Tee Sanders says the face of homelessness is changing.
The things people are stigmatized for can speak volumes about a culture. As a series of stories, WFUV News is speaking with people who say they live with stigmas everyday. As part of the series, WFUV's Will Germain introduces us to a woman who hopes to break a couple sterotypes with her own story.
Tee Sanders has a Bachelor's degree in communications from Rowan University and a Masters in Criminal Justice from the Univesity of Baltimore. She's a mother, a motivational speaker, and the founder of a non-profit called Long Winding Roads Programs that mentors at risk youth. But she's also homeless. Sanders lost her financial footing after she pumped most of her money into starting her non-profit. She says she doesn't have a history of substance abuse or other risky behavior that led to her current situation.
"And my friends and family know that, but I was still embarressed because of that name, that stigma, that goes with being homeless"
Tee says the assumptions people have about the homeless - that many have mental illness, or suffer from addiction, are facts but they're not the only facts.
"The other piece is, the downturn of the economy has eroded the middle class. The lack of affordable housing is the number one cause for homelessness in America. You see a lot of people who are working and they can not afford housing."
She says the one thing she wants is for people to look past the superficial before they reach a conclusion about a homeless person.
"Just say good morning to a homeless person. And not just believe that they're degenerate. You have no idea what's behind that person's eyes."