Photographer Documents Life of Homeless Family Living in Shelter in Powerful Series
She said she wants to help destigmatize homelessness.
A Texas photographer has produced a series documenting the life of a homeless family of six and their daily life in a shelter.
Sara Easter, who worked with the homeless as a social worker before becoming a photographer, said she wanted to capture the family to highlight the fact that homeless families are just like any other.
"They love their kids in the way anyone else does so I just kind want to help take some of that stigma off of the population of families parenting while homeless," Easter said.
Jared and Dallas Henderson, both 27, have four children together, ages 1, 3, 5, and 8.
The family has been living in the Tarrant County shelter since July 2017 and said they live there so that they can be together, which they wouldn't be able to do while staying with family or friends.
"We don't have nowhere else to go" Jared Henderson said. "It's really just us. It's the most stressful thing ever, but splitting up my family is just not an option."
The family stays in the a living space the size of an average bedroom, with just enough room for a full size bed, bunk beds, and a crib for the baby. They have a bathroom attached to their room, four drawers, and a few cabinets for storage.
Toys are usually sprawled all over the floor.
The family says they try to keep the room clean, but there isn’t much space to put things away. They store clothes and toys on the bed and the kids sleep together in one.
Jared Henderson works nights and tries to sleep when he can, despite the noise.
The shelter feeds its residents in shifts since not everyone can fit in the dining hall at once. Families with children go first.
This means that the Hendersons have to be up for breakfast at 5 a.m., lunch is served about 10:45 and dinner is at 3:40 pm.
The older kids attend an elementary school around the corner during the day while the younger two remain at the shelter all day with their mom.
Easter said she admires how Dallas Henderson manages to parent her children, despite rarely having a break.
“It takes a lot of patience,” Easter said.
The playground at the shelter serves as a much needed getaway from the family's room. It's a popular spot for families living at the shelter to congregate.
Jared and Dallas feel they are often judged for living at a shelter and they realize the situation is not ideal.
"We are looking for a place of our own," Jared Henderson said. "We need a place so bad it's not even funny."
In the meantime the couple is trying to parent the best they can in their situation.
Just like any other parents with young children, they struggle with arguments, temper tantrums, lost shoes, meltdowns and teething babies.
"Parenting is hard no matter where you do it," Easter said. "They love their kids in the way anyone else does."
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