invisible homeless kids

Hard to imagine that in this country way over 3 MILLION kids are without homes. H-O-M-E-L-E-S-S Kids. I don't get it. Are we willing to discard these kids? Not me. So this blog will relentlessly focus on this issue, hoping to light a spark to fuel a compassion epidemic. Chime in, argue, but do something....

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sort of Obscene....

Every year at this time a couple of things happen. One is a special holiday which coincides with the winter solstice, National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day. I find the day a whole lot less commercialized, well, perhaps obscure would be a better description, than Christmas.

The other event is the annual drum roll from our nation's capitol as the HUD homeless grants are announced. The lingo goes something like "this year, President Doe is pleased to announce the highest funding ever to address homelessness...blah, blah, blah...."

This year is no different. The benevolent leader bestows the crumbs from the table on the poor homeless people.

Pardon my cynicism, but the phrase "too little too late" comes to mind. Having been a part of the HUD funding/feeding trough for many years, and not being on the take now, I can say a few things that need to be said about the process and the needs.

The history of modern homelessness is a fascinating subject, and serious research would bear out the points made in the report by the Western Region Advocacy Project. The bottom line: massive federal cut-backs in housing assistance from the early 1980s fueled an ever-growing rate of homelessness, compounded by a round of social service cuts and economic catastrophes over the past 20+ years, not to mention, well, I will, lack of things like health care, living wage jobs and affordable housing.

I want to reiterate a point made in the WRAP report. We have demonized homelessness in this country, blaming the victim, while going on our merry way thinking the government will solve this complex and entrenched issue. Lest anyone be thinking that homeless people are demons, I urge you to try to survive on the streets for even a short time and report back on how easy and pleasant it is. It's not.

And shelter/service programs typically face painful uncertainties as their most vulnerable funding hangs on the precipice of Congress' budget "process" which add up to a mere $8 BILLION of earmarks, which, compared to the $1.5 billion to care for the 3 million-plus homeless adults and children in our country seems a little distorted....

Instead of solutions, more fall into the abyss, victims of the latest subprime mortage debacle just showing up on the radar. Tent Cities spring up in communities ill-equipped to deal with the exploding homeless population. And what HUD doesn't want to talk about are the numbers of families losing their homes. Nah, that would sound bad.

So, good people in this land, and plenty are out there, at least do something--start homeless shelters, rustle up volunteers, put bandages on the wound of homelessness. They wait for the government to respond, which it does by scraping crumbs from the table and bragging about it.

Seems to me that we could all use a dose of reality. Homelessness isn't fun--it tends to be deadly. I think of babies of homeless parents I've known...babies who have died because of poverty and homelessness. On this day of remembering homeless people who have gone to the big home in the sky I take a deep breath and hope we can one day wake up from this nightmare.

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