Monday, May 3, 2010

Ana's Story

So in late December 2009 I was asked volunteer some illustrations to go with a story written by a 12 year old girl from the area.

It was called Ana's Story

She wrote about how circumstances in her family situation had forced her mother, younger sister and herself out into the street.

She went on to write about the difficulties of moving around and trying to have a normal social life at school. What do you tell your friends when they want to have a sleepover at your house...

...When your house is a homeless shelter?

...or the street?

She also wrote about the things and people in her life that inspired her to persevere through the hard times.

Her family was fortunate enough to get into a transitional housing program and eventually move on to affordable housing.

In North Virginia, affordable housing has become a sad political issue. We have a very large population of people making less than 25K a year. These people need places to live, but the housing market in North Virginia is ridiculously expensive, what few plots of land that are left are generally turned into lots of high priced professional condos or "McMansions". This means employees in the service sector have to move farther and farther out of the area to find an affordable home adding to their transportation costs.

What's even more disturbing is local politicians and groups of local home owners have been working together to suppress development of affordable housing. They believe that a close proximity of affordable housing or rental properties near their wealthy neighborhoods will cause their own housing value to drop making it harder for them to sell off their properties for more than what they are physically worth when they decide to retire.

It's unfortunate that the greedy nature of these individuals creates such hardships for the lower income workers in the area. The lower income workers often work longer, harder hours in the foundation services that keep the higher end of the local economy afloat.

It is my hope that this book will bring awareness to the plight of the lower income workers and their families. These are the hands that truly built and maintain our communities and they have just as much right to live in the communities where they work as anyone else. If the current residents cannot comprehend this, then I hope their children can.

As Ana says about being homeless...

"It is not a choice
It can happen to Anyone
If we work Together, we can overcome Homelessness"

We are still working out how we will distribute this book, so I don't have a listing for where you can see the full story and set of illustrations at this time, however, I'll update this blog on that info when a decision is reached.

In the meantime if you are interested in Reston Interfaith and the critical and varied social services they do in the Herndon/ Reston areas of North Virginia please visit there website...

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