COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Homelessness is probably not what you think it is. For the most part it's not people you see living under bridges or camping out by the creek. Most of the homeless are people you don't see. The numbers of these invisible homeless are skyrocketing.
Family homelessness is the invisible homelessness in this country, and in this community.
Donnis Martin with partners in housing says many families here in Colorado Springs are just one paycheck away from being homeless.
"You don't see these folks. They are not standing in the street corner. They are living with families, and they move from one family to another family until they have burned all their bridges and people can't support them anymore," said Martin.
The program Partners in Housing helps anyone, including individuals and families. They provide them homes at low rent and teach them how to stand on their own two feet once more.
Sharon Johnson is a recent graduate of the program. She is a happy positive woman with four children.
She was a young wife and mother, but then, a bombshell.
"On my 14th anniversary I found out he was engaged to someone else," said Johnson.
The stay at home mom filed for divorce, then her ex-husband stopped paying for their home, and foreclosure followed.
"Maybe I was a little naive; maybe I just didn't understand everything. I figured, I can do this; I can take care of my four kids; I can move on; I can get a job.
That's not what happened. Sharon hadn't worked outside the home before, and it was very difficult to make it to an interview.
They were like, ‘What have you been doing for the last 15 years of your life,' and I'm like, ‘I have been a mom. I have been taking care of my family,'" said Johnson.
Charity programs couldn't help, and Sharon was running out of time.
"No you are not in need yet. You have to be on the streets in order to qualify. I can't wait until me and my kids are on the streets," said Johnson of her experience with other charities.
Then, she met Donnis and Partners in Housing a few weeks before her family would have been left on the street. The program gave her and her four kids a nice place to live. Sharon went to school, worked and saved money. She now rents her own home, and continues to work and hit the books to become a certified social worker. Her children can hang out at home and be happy thanks to mom and Partners in Housing.
"Despite what happened, and how my marriage ended, and different things like that, I am still here 3 years later. I may not be exactly where I want to be in my life, but I am not where I use to be," said Johnson.
Partners in Housing has a 70% success rate. If you need help or know a family who does call 473-8890.