Homeless father of five can't find shelter that takes men with children
PONTIAC, Mich. (FOX 2) - There are two things that Joseph Cantu says keeps him staying strong: His faith in God and hope that his kids won't remember it.
The 'it' is the housing struggles of Cantu and his five children face.
"I never thought this would happen to myself anyway but what bothers me the most is that they (his kids) have to endure it as well," Cantu said, "and luckily they're small enough they probably won't remember it."
Cantu is homeless. After his wife left him and their children, they were forced to move out of their home last month. To accommodate sleeping arrangements, the father has orchestrated a hodge podge of temporary solutions.
"There's been several nights where we stayed inside this van. We pull inside a rest area sometimes to sleep," he said. "And then there's several nights that some people will donate money here and there so we can sleep in a motel room."
The woes don't stop there for Cantu, however. Until recently, the father was employed. But without someone to watch his kids, of which only two are back in school, he lost his job.
He now gets questions from his kids wondering when they can go home. But home has become an increasingly difficult idea for the family. The natural placeholder solution for the family would be a shelter. But this poses another problem.
"We're waiting on a placement through a shelter, but unfortunately here in southeast Michigan, there's not many shelters for men with children," he said.
Despite the unusual case of the father being the single parent in the household, Cantu is increasingly part of a new face of homelessness - one that is made up of seniors and families with too many expenses and not enough opportunities to pay them off.
He has managed to find a path to child care, recently learning he qualifies with the Michigan Department of Human Services. But until he finds a stable place of employment, the rain will continue pouring.
"I'm a professional polisher with the auto body industry - a finisher. After a car comes out of the paint booth, I'm the last one to touch it so I have to wet, sand, compound, polish, find any imperfections and fix it," he said