I Work hard. I do the right thing. Homelessness is something that will never happen to me.
So many of us think this very thing, but sometimes, all it takes is one life-changing experience to land you on the streets: a job loss, death of a loved one, divorce, natural disaster, or serious illness.
How would you cope? Where would you go? What would you do? You’d figure something out, right?
The Urban Ministries of Durham created SPENT, an interactive choose-your-own-adventure online experience that demonstrates the path to homelessness. At the Coalition office, we accepted the challenge and ‘played’ SPENT. Many of us assumed we could overcome the challenges.
We made the hard choices: we would skip out on that dentist appointment, tell our child they couldn’t go on that field trip, we’d live far away from our job where the rent’s cheaper. We could ‘win’ this game. As we continued through SPENT, the questions grew tougher and there were consequences to the choices we made. More often than not, they were negative consequences. Most of us at the Coalition couldn’t come out on top. Those of us who made it through to the end with some money to spare faced a grim reality: rent for next month is due. Tomorrow.
Even while working and making harsh sacrifices, one wrong or unexpected turn changes everything. Sometimes, there just isn’t enough to make it through. SPENT isn’t a game, it’s a reality for many people living in our community.