Hidden and Growing: Childhood Homelessness a Major Problem in Dallas

Documentary photographer spent a year photographing homeless children and their parents in Dallas

Homelessness continues to be among the major social issues facing the city of Dallas. Often missed, however, is the striking number of children that are among the homeless.

Estimates vary, but Ellen Magnis, executive director of the Family Gateway Shelter in Downtown Dallas, said their research places the number at close to 6,000 children from over 2,000 families.

"People need to know that there are kids sleeping in cars at night," Magnis said. "Who is sleeping in the car today could be tomorrow's leader, but we would never know because they would never get that chance."

Documentary photographer Richard Sharum has spent the last year photographing homeless children and their parents.

Some are staying in shelters, but others like 34-year-old Chiquita Hindman confound expectations of what homelessness looks like.

Hindman lives in a modest apartment paid for by Family Gateway with her 12-year-old daughter who has both autism and cerebral palsy.

"We'd be at the budget suites somewhere living and that's real," Hindman said.

Hindman is studying to get a college degree and dreams of opening her own janitorial company one day.

"She's a real fighter and that's why I thought I would do what I can to help her and her daughter," Sharum said.

Sharum hopes that in his work people will see not just homeless children and parents but people not indifferent from themselves.

"With all my work I'm looking for something that is unifying," he said.

Universal recognition of a problem that continues to grow, perhaps, is the first step to a solution. With empathy, Sharum believes the key to it all.

"That's the thing that gets things done, that solves problems, is empathy," Sharum said.

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