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....

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tree Houses vs. No Houses: Is it Right?

I spent the July 4th holiday at a parade like countless other Americans. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, which I don't do well, I volunteered to take pix for my sister and brother-in-law's builder who wanted their 54 Chevy (or do I need to say Chevrolet?!) to pull his float. It was a beautiful day. The town of Blowing Rock, NC, quaint and vibrant, had people lining the streets, in some places 10-deep, to see this modest parade. Yet I was troubled....

First off, the white-faced crowd belies the reality of multiracial America. Where were people of color?

Most ironic for me, however, was the tree-house. Me, the voice in the wind on behalf of children without houses, accompanying a well-built domicile that will land in a stately tree in the builder's backyard, an instant mecca for neighborhood kids. I'm not begrudging these kids their house, but I wonder what it will take to make sure all kids in America have a house, a secure modest place, to put their heads at night?

The latest grossly understated homeless government figures on the plight of homeless children, teens and adults reminds me of the pathetic attempts by BP to mask the dreadful reality of how much oil spills from the gushing Gulf well. Well, it's not so bad. Like hell. Even 1 family is too many. Millions--unacceptable.

The Obama administration just released "Opening Doors," a revised plan (pdf) on addressing skyrocketing homelessness, and they at least mention families, albeit minimizing the quantity that lack a place to call home. Furthermore, the resources to carry out the plan, well, let's say we'll have to wait and see. But if your family was the one experiencing homelessness, a wait-and-see attitude would be impossible. Outrage, yes. Patience, no.

Millions of kids this summer are spending their time dreading each day instead of splashing around in a cool pool. Their parents struggle for survival, and the kids pick up on that, absorbing anxiety instead of enjoying childhood. Night-by-night "plans" of where to sleep, day-by-day agendas of where to hang out, worrying that "back to school" time will be a battle because of a lack of permanent address. More and more kids are traumatized by homelessness and poverty...and some kids, by virtue of birth and "luck," will have a place to call home, and a refuge in a tree to boot.

Seems to me that strengthening the human infrastructure of America should be the first task on our national agenda. Spending our nation's dwindling resources destroying countries and killing in the name of peace haven't proven effective for them or us. And it makes a lousy excuse that fails to explain why some kids have tree-houses and some have no houses.

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