As the Housing Director at Heading Home, Dorothee Otero has the opportunity to interact with the many children who we serve through our Families Heading Home program. Children do not choose to become homeless or to live in a shelter. They are the innocent victims of a very different pandemic than what we are dealing with today – that of family homelessness. Recently Dorothee sat down with one of the children in our program who was willing to share his experience of the Families Heading Home program from his point of view.
Twelve-year-old Julian recalls the day that he came through the doors of Heading Home’s downtown office just over two years ago. He, along with his little brother and mom were downtown when they were approached by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). He recalls the experience as being scary because “they had done nothing wrong”. His mom told the APD officers that they were homeless and in need of help. The officers were part of a team that works closely with Heading Home and they brought them to the office. Because the kids were hungry, the officers purchased food and shared a meal with them. This memory is forever etched in Julian’s mind. He remembers them for their kindness and concern.
Julian recalls that before being connected to Families Heading Home, he spent three long years at a local shelter. The family was displaced when his dad was tragically killed in a car accident. It left the family with nowhere to go. His younger brother was born while they were at the shelter.
In July 2018, the family was housed through the Families Heading Home program. They enjoy their new home and within the last few months, with the help of our Disability Benefits specialist, his mom was approved for disability benefits. Julian is doing on-line schooling and knows the importance of making good grades. His dreams of becoming a police officer one day are still on his mind but he wants to keep his options open.