Homeless father of five struggles to find shelter that takes men with children: 'I never thought this would happen'

A homeless father of five from Michigan is having trouble finding a place for him and his family to stay, amid the lack of shelters that take men with children, WJBK reports

Joseph Cantu, of Pontiac, was forced to move out of his home last month after his wife left him and their children. He was also recently fired from his job as a car polisher after he couldn't find someone to help watch his kids, of which only two are back in school. 

"I never thought this would happen to myself anyway, but what bothers me the most is that they [his children] have to endure it as well," he told the station. "Luckily, they're small enough they probably won't remember it."

Since then, the father has been forced to find temporary sleeping accommodations. 

"There's been several nights where we stayed inside [a] van," he said. "We pull inside a rest area sometimes to sleep. And then there's several nights that some people will donate money here and there, so we can sleep in a motel room."

Although many homeless families often turn to shelters for help, Cantu — who learned not long ago that he qualified for childcare assistance from the Michigan Department of Human Services — said he has had difficulty locating a shelter that will take his family in. 

"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.

While single mothers make up the majority of primary parents in homeless families, Cantu's situation is reflective of an underrepresented demographic that deserves more examination, experts say. 

"Focusing on this population of men is especially pertinent in relation to concerns about responsible fathering," a 2007 study published by the National Council on Family Relations notes. "Recent research on responsible fathering has highlighted the need to examine contextual influences on parenting. Fathers at the margins, such as homeless fathers, may experience unique constraints to responsible parenting."

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