The Secret Life Of Adolescent Homelessness In S. Fla.

MIAMI (CBS4) – Thirteen year old Dontral Jackson kept it a secret until now. Hiding the fact that he’s homeless from his classmates at school out of embarrassment.

“I never tell them,” said Jackson.

When his friends ask to come over to his house to play Jackson always made up an excuse.

“I just tell them my mom is not home, I gotta do homework or something,” he said.”

Jackson is one of five children. His mother, Maddy Wright, became homeless more than three weeks ago when a relative she was staying with lost their home to foreclosure.

“It was horrible because I didn’t know where I was gonna go,” said Wright.

That night she slept at a bus stop with her children laying across her.

“I stayed up all night watching them,” she recalled.

The next day a shelter took her in and paid for a room at a motel on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami. The motel has been home to her family and at least a dozen others like it for weeks.

“This is a roof over our head better than being on the bus stop for now,” said Wright.

But the number of homeless children are much larger than the dozen or so living in that motel.

“More than five thousand kids this school year will be homeless,” said Laura Chiarello, a homeless liaison for Miami-Dade Public Schools.

She said it a situation that’s become worse over the last couple years.

“With the economy the way it is and with so many foreclosures, we’ve noticed that a lot of these families that maybe have had a foreclosure like a year or two ago now is when they’re actually having to leave their houses,” said Chiarello. “So its putting them in a situation where they’re having to go to hotels motels. We’ve got families living in their cars.”


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