AURORA, Colo (CBS4)– As the Colorado housing market gets tighter, more and more families are getting squeezed into homelessness. About one-third of the homeless in the Denver metro area are families and it’s having a big impact on the children.
Lisa Fisher makes up a bed in the back of her minivan. She and her kids, ages 15, 13, and 9 are living here.
“Like when we have to sleep in the car… when I lay down, my back starts hurting,” said 9-year-old Ji’Lisa.
The family has been looking for housing for six months. They’ve been sleeping in the car for several weeks.
“I’m a tall guy, so I have to sleep with my feet on the dashboard and stuff like that,” said 15-year-old Sajied.
Sajied doesn’t fit in the car, so he stays with a friend. Each of the kids is struggling with the instability.
“It makes me feel upset… and angry,” Ji’Lisa said.
“I get angry sometimes, just the feeling of waiting after school for my mom, just waiting for hours and hours after school,” Sajied added.
The waiting, the anger, the loss of control, these are the feelings with which Sajied is learning to cope.
A non-profit mental health agency called Devereux Colorado specializes in that.
“For our homeless kiddos and our homeless families that the time it takes for them to attain stable housing is significantly longer than ever before,” said Megan Vogels, the Director of community based programs at Devereux Colorado.
LINK: Devereux Colorado
Megan Vogels said that homeless children experience anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
“The longer a kiddo is experiencing that significant stressor the more at risk they are for major mental health issues,” Vogels told CBS4.
“I’m really grateful for my school. East High School has been there for me in so many ways,” Sajied said.
Providing school supplies, personal care products and academic support, Dorothy Leyba is the educational liaison.
“He’s an amazing student. He’s very vibrant. He’s out there. He’s involved,” Leyba said.
It’s her job to keep homeless kids involved. Last year, Leyba had 17 seniors who were homeless, she got 12 of them to graduation.
“I love being here for them in the school, knowing that they have my office as a safe place for them to come,” Leyba told CBS4.
Sajied has bad days but he hopes there is happiness out there for him and his family.
“I want to see us live in a home… not just a house but a home… where I can come home to my things,” Sajied said.
Not too much for any child to ask for.
Libby Smith is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. If you have a story you’d like to tell CBS4 about, call 303-863-TIPS (8477) or visit the News Tips section.