When first asked why I decided to participate in HomeWalk, I didn’t have a profound answer. I thought it was as simple as supporting the cause of ending homelessness, but with more time I tapped into a narrative that was buried underneath, almost forgotten. My childhood was filled with a pattern of unstable housing situations, making me wonder how different my life could have been with a consistent place to call home while growing up. As Cambodian refugees, abruptly forced out of our homeland, my family experienced financial hardship during their resettlement in the United States. This translated into various housing situations; a couple pleasant, the majority not.
When my family first arrived to the U.S. they were placed in an apartment with limited bedrooms, but plenty of people. Ten recently arrived refugees to one or two bedroom apartments was the norm. Another time, we lived in a Section 8 apartment, which were really converted military barracks. My fondest housing memory was a four bedroom house with intergenerational and extended family members in each bedroom, but even that was short-lived due to a house fire.
Although my housing transitions were excessive and at times traumatic, I was fortunate to always have a safe place to rest my head, a place that I could call home with my family around me. Not everyone is so lucky though. I know that rarely when we think of the homeless we imagine entire families out on the streets, but in reality homeless families comprise one-third of the homeless population in our nation. In honor of my family and other families similar to my own, you are in my thoughts and I walk for you.
“Why do you walk?” I walk for all families, immigrant and native,
that have no home to go to or safe refuge in times of need.
Please visit www.homewalkla.org to register or give today in support of ending homelessness in LA!
Elizabeth Ul is a new United Way intern supporting Home for Good. She is in her final year at UCLA, studying for her Masters of Social Welfare.