“I Don’t Want to Live Like This Forever”: A 14-Year-Old’s Story of “Hidden Homelessness” Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

BY: Patrice Taddonio

Fourteen-year-old Kyah misses having a bed.

For the past year, she, her mother and her older sister have been living out of a single room in a relative’s house — experiencing what’s been called “hidden homelessness” in order to avoid entering the shelter system.

“I have to sleep on the floor, and my sister and my mom sleep on the bed,” Kyah says. She feels it’s the right thing to do, she says, “because my mom’s back is more fragile than mine.”

So each night, Kyah uses blankets to create a comfortable place to sleep on the carpet, and then folds them up and puts them away when morning comes.

“I really make this look like a little twin-size bed,” she says, flashing a smile as she demonstrates her nightly ritual.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, almost 12 million children in America were estimated to be living in poverty — a burden disproportionately borne by kids who are Black or Latino. Kyah is one of them. Her story unfolds in Growing Up Poor in America, a new FRONTLINE documentary that follows children in three families — one Black, one mixed-race and one white — in the battleground state of Ohio as they struggle to make ends meet.

Read the full story and learn more on FRONTLINE’s website.