I took this pix of Congressman Foster (guy with the suit) who recently met with constituents who stood in line on a Saturday morning in a freezing cold grocery store's bakery department. Despite the discomfort, it was worth it because he admitted to me that he "blew" the issue of the definition of homelessness.
I'm back. A week's vacation, tech issues and an unplanned week dealing with a family emergency knocked me out of the box for the past month. Hope I was missed! For those who can't get enough of my insights, I'm still doing a weekly piece for Change.org's Poverty in America blog.
A while back I decided to take advantage of a Google feature that lets me be notified once a day of stories and blogs on the topics of my choice. My keywords: homeless children, homeless teens, homeless students.
I rightly figured that those 3 would keep me busy. Since doing that, I've been astounded about the fairly significant news coverage of these issues. No reports of a dearth of homeless kids, quite the opposite, to no surprise. Some stories report gallant efforts, some tragic happenings. Accounts filter in from across the nation, from places I know and those I've never heard of, despite 4 years on our country's backroads.
I've found myself pondering one question: With what seems to be common knowledge of the existence and plight of America's homeless kids, why is the learning curve so steep for Congress?
I just left for my vacation when Congress passed and President Obama signed the reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, the piece that governs HUD's homelessness efforts. While some improvements have been made, I was glad I was out of town and without phone/internet access.
The key issues some of us were hoping for did not pass, despite a herculean effort. Instead, a much-flawed version is set to become law, fortunately for just 2 years instead of the customary 5 year period.
A good story about a house-less family in a no-tell motel in affluent DuPage County (IL) ran this week on Chicago's Fox TV. Mark Saxenmeyer, the reporter, put together a compelling piece that included a poster-child family (mom, dad and 2 boys) who have spent a year in a motel. Chicago Coalition for the Homeless rep and my friend, Rene Heybach, did a superb job emphasizing the issues.
Seems to me steep learning curves need special vehicles. HEAR US plans to be that vehicle. Soon I will announce the game plan. But in the meantime, I'll be glued to my computer, reading about the problem some in Congress think we don't have--kids living without homes in our great nation.