There's a couple I know quite well -- our kids are friends -- who have struggled more than we have. They're also both disabled, and both are still in the long red-tape period with social security. The big difference between us is that they were renting their home when hard times hit, whereas we bought ours.
These friends rented an apartment. When that became too expensive, they found they couldn't rent something else due to dropping credit scores. They lived in a cheap motel room for months. When the motel suffered a fire, they were running out of options. They house-sat in a retirement community for a little while, but were kicked out for being too young.
Now they live in a small RV. It's old, a lot of stuff is broken, but it's shelter. They've had to drive around and look for places to park and sleep. They've struggled to stay connected to family and friends. At the moment they have electricity and water, but no gas for their stove or heater.
These are not drug addicts or alcoholics. These are my peers, good parents with grown children, hard workers until illness and injury forced them to stop. They don't deserve their plight. They have a great attitude and continue to solve each problem as it comes. I admire their tenacity.
I took food over to the lot where they're parked. Several families appear to be living on the land. I really couldn't guess at the accommodations the other families have. They appear to be keeping warm, anyway. You should have seen them react to the food, though. These are people who don't get donations from churches or other charities. They haven't been able to stay in one place long enough to know the neighbors. They've always provided for themselves and wouldn't dream of begging or even asking for help. But they have no community.
There's a whole social group now living in these circumstances. They have too much to warrant charity, but not enough to live on. They fall between the cracks everywhere they turn. What do we call these people? They aren't "lower class," certainly. They're educated and responsible and know how to contribute their fair share. But they're becoming nomads. "Upper transient" might be an accurate description. I wish there were a term that we could all use. A name helps to start the ball rolling toward societal solutions. "The new homeless" and "the new poor" are just news sound bites that don't get a second thought, and sound bites don't feed people.
As we enter an election year, as we debate democratic socialism and income inequality, let's keep ALL citizens in mind. The lucky and unlucky, the wealthy and the poor. Those with homes and those without. But especially those who, despite their good behavior, or maybe because of it, have fallen between the cracks. Let's find them and know them and validate them. Let's share what we can and ask for help on their behalf. Let's elect leaders who recognize that there are huge groups of Americans that don't fit the model, for whom the American dream has become simply a source of heat and a good meal.