A child’s life and that of his family are associated with a relational climate in which he has his singular place. But, before or at the same time, their personal and family life is associated with a physical place: a roof under which to live. They may have an affective place and a material «non-place». It is precisely the current acute poverty that has had a special impact on housing, and rarely has the evaluation of what needs to be done in justice put the rights of each child before the fact that his or her immediate environment is not destroyed. The home is a physical space where a good part of childhood is built, where experiences of security are developed, where awareness of uniqueness and intimacy are acquired. And all this has entered massively into crisis with the impact of poverty on housing.
Poverty reports insist on differentiating four different «roof» situations for children. All of them, increasing and changing in the crisis period.
1 Boys and girls, families with children, homeless, who are on the street. Poverty generates new street dwellers. Some of them are, for example, teenagers outside any care system, on the borderline between legal emancipation and social loneliness.
2 Boys and girls, families with homeless children. They have no «home» and are sheltered in different institutional shelters (especially shelters for gender violence or protection). They have no place to return to.
3 Families living in substandard housing. In a rented room, sharing small spaces with other families, in places without sanitation, etc. Children without a family space to grow up and be, in which the street becomes the predominant living space.
4 Families who have a house and a home but in total instability and insecurity for a long time, pending eviction, eviction from an occupied place, or the possibility of not being able to keep a cheaper house?
In all these situations, we must take into account children’s experiences of change, of the «newness» and temporariness of social housing and how the family rebuilds itself in the new home (in another neighborhood, another environment, potential new relationships).
Thinking about responses means taking into account the realities of the «roofs» under which children are sheltered. How each of these realities’ conditions educational stimuli, affections, personal securities. We can help a mother in how she should stimulate the psychomotor development of her baby, but we must do so without forgetting that the family has only a few meters of housing to survive. We can help in bonding, but we must keep in mind that each of their days is full of insecurities.
I invite everyone to read Matias’ post with the topic of the day.