Pineapple works to serve the children of homeless shelters around Chicago, one being the Primo Center, located in West Garfield Park. West Garfield Park is just six miles outside of the loop with a total population of 17,433 residents, 93% of which are black. This area faces a great deal of struggles rooted in its history?
Prior to World War II, West Garfield Park was home to Irish, German, and Russian immigrants. But when African Americans began moving into the area in the 1950s, realtors began to scare off white residents into moving out of the area. Along with redlining, a process by which banks refused to offer mortgages or offered worse rates to customers in certain neighborhoods based on their racial and ethnic composition, one of the clearest examples of institutionalized racism in Chicago, the population shifted to this majority black population within ten years?
. Today, 63% of West Garfield Park residents don’t have college degrees, 24% are single-parent households (in comparison to 9% in the city of Chicago), and the per capita income is just $14,000, far lower than the city of Chicago’s average of $37,000. The U.S. Bureau of Labor found the cost of raising a child to be an annual average of $12,980, with 18% of that value just for food. About half of the residents in the area that work must travel outside of the neighborhood, or even outside of Chicago itself, to work, leaving children at home for a long time. All these factors make it extremely difficult for residents of West Garfield Park to raise a child. More recently, the pandemic and protests of summer 2020 have left a lot of the area damaged both physically and economically speaking, leading to about 75% of the businesses closing shop. Of course, it must be mentioned that West Garfield’s per capita rate of shootings is nearly 20 times higher than in the downtown area, making it one of the most dangerous community areas?
Thus, although living in West Garfield Park already is a difficult life, one can only imagine the greater difficulties facing homeless women and children. In fact, 85 percent of homeless families are headed by single women. The reason for this overrepresentation of women is that women are often the primary caregivers of children, and with 1 of every 4 homeless women being homeless because of violence committed against her, often brings the child with her to escape the violent situation?
. Terms-the homeless children (who make up 1 in 30 of all children in the United States), these children face unique challenges due to their situation. A study conducted by researchers at Children’s HealthWatch of Boston Medical Center found that experiencing homelessness before or right after birth puts children at high risk for poor health. These children are at risk for developing many chronic health problems, such as obesity. These children typically miss vaccinations and lack basic health care, which helps explain how homeless youth are twice as likely to be emotionally distressed than their peers who have housing?
. By the age of five, most homeless children have at least one major developmental delay?
. Homeless children are also more likely than their peers to have lower academic performance?
. Thus, beyond living in a low-income neighborhood, homeless children of West Garfield park face many social factors that make them especially vulnerable having little to no access to healthy food, leading to malnutrition and obesity.
to learn about stories of women and children living in the shelter.