Cindy and Patrick Kennard have college degrees. Patrick Kennard works at a bank call center and until recently, Cindy Kennard worked as a director of a daycare facility. They have three children, share 19 years of marriage -- they’re also homeless, NBC reports.
The family from Johnson City, Tenn., represents the growing number of families who maintain jobs but don't have a place to call home -- a "historic juncture" in regard to homelessness post-recession, NBC reports.
“I had the stereotypical man holding up the sign,” Patrick Kennard told the news outlet. “Homelessness can happen to anybody. We’re proof of that.”
The economic recession played a part in the rise of employed homeless families, with the number of sheltered homeless families rising by 9 percent from 2007-2008, according to a report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
What's more, more than 1 million children in the 2010-2011 school year were homeless according to a report by The U.S. Department of Education.
"The number is horrifyingly high but it probably is half of what the number really could be if the kids could be counted," Diane Nilan, founder and director of HEAR US told the Huffington Post. She points to homeless infants, children not enrolled in school and those not wishing to be identified.
Besides the feelings of uncertainty and shame that come with living in shelters, homelessness also affects children’s learning. According to a report by The U.S. Department of Education, 52 percent of homeless students were proficient in reading, while 51 percent were proficient in math.
The Kennards are now receiving help from a church shelter that will help them move into an apartment. The family first ran into trouble when Patrick Kennard suffered from kidney problems. Between the medical bills, student loan debt and a broken-down car, the family found themselves more than $35,000 in debt, according to NBC. In the toughest times, the couple said they pawned their wedding rings for $100 to pay for food and gas. “That ring on my finger meant the world to me,” Patrick Kennard told the news outlet.