invisible homeless kids

Hard to imagine that in this country way over 1,700,000 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....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Can It Get Uglier?

Compared to issues like water-boarding, steroids in baseball, and the economy, the DEFINITION of HOMELESS gets little attention. But to the little people affected by this issue, way over 1.5 homeless children and youth, it's a critical issue, one that seems to be going down the toilet.

According to our homeless children/teen "lobbyist" Barbara Duffield, hopes in DC are at the lowest point ever for negotiating improvements in the definition of homelessness to include the population missed thus far--families and teens who are "outside" the system.

HUD seems to be fighting this effort to expand the definition to include families and teens in motels, doubled-up with others, or outside the sparse HUD-funded shelter system. Big cities--with their big power--seem to be behind some of this strange behavior, maybe because they get funding to get those "chronic" homeless adults off the streets. I dunno...

In the meantime, in Georgia, walking along a highway, a wildly-determined 11-year-old Zach Bonner aims toward DC, wanting to meet with President Obama to raise awareness about homeless children, an issue that rightly appalls him. Zach started his nonprofit, Little Red Wagon Foundation, when he was 8. He's already walked from his home near Tampa to Tallahassee, then Tallahassee to Atlanta, taking important steps to walk the walk.

And I sit in Tillie--my RV home/office, desperately trying to help both Barbara and Zach's efforts. With technology at my fingertips, I can blog, call, and tweet. I'm pleading with people to:
Seems to me we need to convert the energy spent on changing the system into energy spent improving the hopes and dreams of kids without homes. In order to make that happen, lots of people are needed to rattle the cages of President Obama and legislators. Listen to Zach! And Make Homeless Kids Count!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Questions from ‘Mom’

Truth be told, I'm not a mom. But I feel like it when it comes to the millions of homeless kids in our country. So, taking indecent liberties with that, I'm going to ask some serious questions as a mom:

President Obama

  • You publically stated at your March 24 press conference that "I'm heartbroken that any child in America is homeless." What does that really mean when your heart is broken?
  • Does it mean that your administration is ready to change the abysmal business as usual with HUD's homelessness policies that seem bent on ignoring homeless families and teens?

HUD Secretary Donovan

  • You represent a new era at HUD, one which has been long awaited. How much attention have you paid to the pending issue of the definition of homelessness?
  • Did you notice that the definition, a hold-over from the previous administration, absolutely slams the door on a significant number of homeless families and teens on their own?
  • Do you not have a different approach to addressing this heartbreaking issue?

Nan Roman, NAEH President

  • You and your organization, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, profess a commitment to, well, ending homelessness. Why are you supporting a definition of homelessness that excludes so many children and youth, making them more invisible and less likely to get the help they need to avoid homelessness as adults?
  • The definition of homelessness that you support requires kids who in motels or doubled-up situations to move around a lot before they are considered homeless – are you unaware of the research on the impact of mobility on child development?
  • You support a definition of homelessness that considers people in motels to be permanently housed unless they only have enough money to stay for 14 days. Do you really consider a motel room a home, adequate for raising children?
  • How many families and unaccompanied youth in motels or doubled-up situations have you spoken to directly? Can you really say that they are less vulnerable than those in shelters?
  • If the same youth moves from shelter to couch to motel, are they less homeless when they land a spot on a couch or in a motel?

Kevin Chappell, Senior Editor, Ebony

  • What led up to your question posed to President Obama at the March 24 press conference about homeless children? Were you satisfied with the President's answer?
  • Are you aware of current legislative "shenanigans" that will essentially put into place a very restrictive definition of homelessness that in effect doesn't count or adequately address the unmet needs of millions of homeless families and teens?
  • What would you like to ask the President about this issue to further shine light on our nation's abysmal failure to house and care for families in poverty?

Readers and people of compassion across this nation (CLICK HERE FOR 2 1/2 min. video)

  • Since homeless families/teens are in effect being bullied by the system, are you willing to fight back on their behalf?
  • Do you think our nation needs to ensure that children, teens, families and other vulnerable people have a roof over their heads and access to help to move out of homelessness?
  • Will you step up and advocate for this to happen? (link to advocacy info)

Seems to me that it's way past time to reach way down to the most ignored populations in this country and give them a hand-up. That's what moms do every day.