Many Double Up As Last Best Hope Before Going Homeless And Living In Cars

I … Michael Luo of The New York Times reports in article Doubling Up reports: Of the myriad ways the Great Recession has altered the country’s social fabric, the surge in households like the Maggis’, where relatives and friends have moved in together as a last resort, is one of the most concrete, yet underexplored, demographic shifts.

Census Bureau data released in September showed that the number of multifamily households jumped 11.7 percent from 2008 to 2010, reaching 15.5 million, or 13.2 percent of all households. It is the highest proportion since at least 1968, accounting for 54 million people.

Even that figure, however, is undoubtedly an undercount of the phenomenon social service providers call “doubling up,” which has ballooned in the recession and anemic recovery. The census’ multifamily household figures, for example, do not include such situations as when a single brother and a single sister move in together, or when a childless adult goes to live with his or her parents.

For many, the arrangements represent their last best option, the only way to stave off entering a homeless shelter or sleeping in their cars. In fact, nearly half of the people in shelters in 2009 who had not previously been homeless had been staying with family members or friends, according to a recent report, making clear that the arrangements are frequently a final way station on the way to homelessness.

A New York Times analysis of census “microdata,” prepared by the University of Minnesota’s state population center, found that the average income of multifamily households in the records fell by more than 5 percent from 2009 to 2010, twice as much as households over all, suggesting that many who are living in such arrangements are under financial siege.

Holly’s parents had been enduring their own financial struggles. Mr. Maggi, 58, lost his job as a high-end furniture maker in early 2009. Complicating matters, he and his wife had allowed Holly’s older sister, her husband and their two children to move in with them after they lost their home to foreclosure in 2008. They finally scraped together the money to move out just a week before Holly arrived with her family.

“I was just thinking, ‘Is it ever going to end?’ ” Mr. Maggi said. “I thought I was done raising my kids.”

Nevertheless, the Maggis said there was never any question about their taking in Holly and her young family.

“She didn’t have any other options,” said Kathy Maggi, 53, who has not worked for several years because of health problems. “It was here or on the streets.”

Back in Gainesville, Holly Maggi had worked as a manager at a self-storage facility before being laid off in 2007. She eventually took a job at a Häagen-Dazs, only to lose that as well. Mr. Wilson’s job as a flooring contractor sustained them, until that work also dried up in early 2009.

II … Going homeless is not good, as one carries the smell of the fire in one’s clothes; and many times, one can fall into the fire or one can suffer serious burns from having one’s tent catch on fire from the use candle of candles. Furthermore, the constant sound of rain beating down on the tent can cause one to literally “go nuts”.

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