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....

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Moral Outrage Turned Off?

Moral crisis requires moral outrage at both the problem and the seeming imperviousness of the problem to viable and permanent solutions. We need to be morally outraged at what poverty and systemic injustice is doing to people. Michael Maher

Moral outrage might be headed for the history books as national and global economies swirl down the drain of greed and destruction. Liberty and justice for all reflect ancient ideals. Now it's survival of the richest, and those ranks dwindle as the 'dog-eat-dog' mentality takes hold.

Moral outrage, which used to motivate some of us to protest war,cruelty or injustice has been replaced by don't piss off 'the man.' Be nice. Go along. Or you might find out that government, aka 'the man,' refuses to help, kicking sand in your face in the process.

In Atlanta, one of the main emergency shelters for this city's unwanted and neglected adults has seen the writing on the Peachtree City's wall. Allegedly tied to frustration with the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless' refusal to go along with the "chronic homelessness initiative," the City, holding an unpaid water bill of about $160,000, shut off water for this shelter that houses about 700 people a night. Nice.

As a former shelter director, the prospect of a waterless night at a shelter sends shivers down my spine. It's the ultimate indignity thrown at a population that feels nothing but scorn all day long. Their nightly humble haven, the human equivalent of a sardine can, has now been violated by the authorities--those with power to do good or evil--who have chosen to do personal harm to each person staying at the shelter.

The disrespect of the cut-off reeks--not allowing people the dignity of flushing a toilet or taking a shower or brushing what's left of their few dentist-deprived teeth. Many people without homes still try to maintain human dignity by practicing at least basic forms of hygiene. Water is crucial for that. Shutting off the tap stinks. It hurts.

Imagine waking up in the morning, not being able to wash up, hesitating to eat or drink anything because of the Third World conditions in the restrooms, and going forth to meet the day, with no hope in sight. It's not like restrooms doors are thrown open to those who look obviously homeless. And for hygiene-impaired individuals, boot-strap-jobs are unattainable.

The Metro Task Force, by refusing to play nice with the City on the 10-year-plan, apparently has taken a moral, though risky, stand. I admire their courage. And I agree with their refusal to shape their program to comply with the morally reprehensible approach to homelessness of Bush's anti-homelessness initiative.

Case in point: if the federal 'homeless czar' really cared about the well-being of homeless people, he'd have been on the phone to Atlanta's Mayor Shirley Franklin, demanding that she restore water to the shelter that takes 700+ people off the street each night.

In a few weeks, a long-awaited change in presidential leadership will take place. Changes in presidents bring changes in policy. The absurd failure of HUD's "chronic homelessness initiative" will hopefully be halted and reversed.

It seems to me that Mayor Franklin should read the writing on the wall. Knowing that HUD policies will certainly change for the better, why not do the right thing and let the tap flow at the Peachtree and Pine Street Shelter? The way the economy is going she might be showing up there for a stay....

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