This is the transcript of my interview: The Brutal Heartlessness of a Billionaire Governor-- Casting Teen Moms and their Babies onto the Streets
Thanks to Tsara Shelton for help with transcript editing.
Rob: Welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, sponsored by Opednews.com, available on iTunes, Progressive Radio Network and Stitcher and on opednews.com/podcasts. My guest tonight is Ann Holcomb. She's supportive services supervisor for Unity Parenting and Counseling, which runs 9 homeless programs, mostly for youth and children. Ann also went through a few times in her life when she was homeless. Welcome to the show.
Rob: So the reason that I'm having you on is because your organization is going through a pretty traumatic time because it has had its funding cut off, which means that basically you have a lot of single, young, mothers with children who could be out on the streets again. They were homeless. Your organization, Unity Parenting and Counseling, provided them with a place to live, with job counseling, parenting skill counseling and things like that. The state of Illinois is withholding funding and, have I got this description right?
Ann: Exactly. So, there's 28 youth heads of household, mostly females that are affected and 32 of their very small children, which range from infants to 5 year olds. So these are teen moms primarily, and they were homeless and we have a program where they can stay for up to 2 years to really mature and get their life together and get some education, get their first jobs and get something sustainable so that they're never homeless again. We promise them that they can stay as long as they follow the rules and they follow their case plans and they work with staff on what those case plans should be -- that we're going to provide them housing for 2 years, so they can actually not just think about where they're going to eat and sleep the night, but make goals for tomorrow and make progress and really resolve the issues of them becoming a dependent and getting on their feet and never ever being homeless again.
Rob: Tell me a little bit about what it means when they were homeless. What was their life like when they were homeless?
Ann: Well one of the youths that I've been working with a lot recently. She -- her mother is basically mentally ill. I don't know if she's ever been diagnosed, but it sounds like she has Bipolar Disorder. She gets very depressed at times and gets very manic and angry at other times. So this young lady was homeless since 15. She would go back and forth. When her mother was reasonable, she would be home. When her mother wasn't reasonable, she wouldn't be home. So then, when she became pregnant, her mother kicked her out of the house.
Rob: Are you saying that she was Bipolar or her mother was Bipolar?
Ann: Her mother was Bipolar.
Rob: Her mother, okay. Go ahead.
Ann: Yeah, and so she stayed house to house with friends, but as her pregnancy progressed, that wasn't working too well. So she had a job at one point and when she became pregnant, she had gotten laid off or something. She lost the job. But anyway, she had a car left over from that job, so she started sleeping in her car. So here she is, 5, 6 months pregnant sleeping in her car every night.
Then she was trying to work out something with her baby's father, he was somewhat supportive. They were trying, you know, he was trying to get a job and save money and things like this so that maybe they could get a place together and have it ready for the baby. She was standing by him on his mother's porch and they were talking about plans when a car rode by and he was the victim of a drive-by shooting. So, she was standing right by him when it happened. She did not get shot, but she was covered in his blood and completely traumatized. He did survive, but he's now, in between what is a paraplegic and a quadriplegic. He has some use of his arms, but not of his hands and so forth. This only happened now 7 months ago. Okay?
So now the baby is born and she's now living with us and she's made an amazing stride. She's working with our therapist regularly to address the trauma that you know, she experienced by you know, witnessing that event and being so close to being a victim herself. You know, just the stress -- she's still involved and loves this man, who now has a life sentence in a wheelchair you know, so she's dealing with all of that and being a mom for the first time.
Believe it or not, this young lady last month went and got a job and so, and it's a job that may actually have a career, a future. It's not just a minimum wage job. So this is something and she said over and over that before she got into Harmony, she wasn't sure if she wanted to even survive. You know, she was getting so depressed after everything that had happened -- you know, the trauma of living in her car while pregnant, then seeing her baby's father shot right in front of her, almost getting shot herself and having no support. She said, you know, she was actually considering you know, the peace of ending it all and if it wouldn't have been for Harmony, she might have done that.