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South Park – North Park – Golden Hill

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Can you be homeless if you have a roof overhead?

Can you be homeless if you have a roof overhead?
Not all homeless people are living on the street or sleeping in shelters.

In high school my tight-knit group of friends and I would converge on weekends at our friend Lauren's house. We would load up on snacks, candy, and pop and settle in for long nights of staying up late gossiping and watching MTV in the basement. That basement was our own personal refuge, a fortress of female friendship.

One day Lauren's mom picked us all up and drove us one town over, where we arrived at Lauren's grandparents' house. We were all wondering what we were doing there (no sleepover in our favorite basement tonight?).

Our questions were soon answered. Sitting in the unfinished basement of the house, cross-legged on cold linoleum, Lauren told us her family would be moving there. They could no longer afford their home in the affluent suburb in which we grew up and were forced to move in with their extended family. 

"It's OK," Lauren said. "I'll still go to the same high school, since we're technically homeless."

The sentence didn't really strike a chord at the time. It didn't carry any weight because she wasn't actually homeless--they had a place to go to, family who cared about them. So we all smiled and laughed and played hand-clapping games while imagining what our new fortress would look like when they finished renovating the basement. 

It was beautiful when it was done, and it did become our new hangout space. It was like nothing had changed, and I didn't give the idea of homelessness a second thought.

That was, until my family found ourselves in the exact same situation a few years later. 

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