This story was from a couple of days ago, and I thank crys for sending in the tip. I have heard of people living in storage units as an alternative to a flat, but I thought it was an urban myth.
Sheena Johnson (27) has been charged with 2 counts of child endangerment after her 5 and 10 year old sons were found all by themselves in a storage unit in New Jersey. She was originally being arrested for criminal mischief for slashing her ex-fiance’s tyres, but she told police that her two young sons were by themselves in the locker.
In court, Sheena broke down, explaining that she had no other options but to live in the locker. She’d fled her home with her two sons and some stuff, and went to live with a relative. She had a blue with the relative and then moved to a hotel. After that, she spent most of the time moving from hostel to hostel or couch surfing with friends. When she was denied benefits and money ran low, she thought her only option was to live in a storage unit filled with junk.
Sheena and the boys would sleep on the mattress, with blankets stacked on top of them to keep them warm. They would eat takeaways and go to friends’ houses so that they could shower and the boys could watch telly. The boys continued to go to school despite their living conditions. What’s even more strange about their locker, is that half the junk in there looks like it’s broken! The chair’s missing a leg (and wouldn’t be practical in a locker), there’s an old grotty bean bag, some old tacky Easter decorations (???) etc. Come on, Sheena, did you really need to grab an Easter basket when you were fleeing your home?
Sheena tried the usual sob story of how she had it so hard growing up. Born to drug addicted parents, working at 14, pregnant by 16, yadda yadda yadda. Listen, sister. You knew how hard you had it growing up, and you probably swore black and blue that you would never put your own kids through that. That’s no excuse. You did not “run out of options”. There were plenty of options. Stay with the friends that let you use their showers and TVs. Go to a women’s shelter. Not fight with your relative and respect the rules of their house that they so kindly shared with you. Living in a storage locker with no electricity or running water may be fine if you’re single with no kids. But it’s just not good enough when you have children. You cannot let their quality of life slip.
Sheena has also been charged with domestic violence and violating a restraining order, which is interesting. I don’t think it’s a case of the helpless woman fleeing in the middle of the night from her violent and abusive husband. She must have been dealing it out as much as she’s been taking it.
Sheena’s attorney is arranging for her to be put in transitional housing where she can live with her boys. Hopefully she will get back on her feet and make a better life for her boys.