|3 sisters in Reno, NV bemoan their plight|
Why does this seemingly obscure issue rate a mention? Well, since the beginning of the federal McKinney (now McKinney-Vento) homeless programs in 1987, Congress--the body that decides funding for agencies--has been, well, confused. I suspect they think all homeless people are, well, bums.
Now I'll be the first to dispel the myths about homeless adults, having run shelters for 15 years. Homeless adults need and deserve all kinds of help. It's not--nor should it be--"us vs. them" when it comes to funding. But the level at which families and kids have been excluded is obscene.
|Camping in NW Oregon. 3 girls and parents.|
Clearly, Congress, federal (state and local) bureaucrats and policymakers just don't get it. Which is why some of us worked hard to facilitate a Congressional hearing on homeless kids by courageous homeless kids. (See it)
Here's something people don't realize about numbers:
- Schools have identified (2009-10 school year) nearly 1 million students without homes. (This is probably 1/2 of the actual homeless student population--they're hard to identify.)
- That doesn't include an estimated 2-3 million youth not in school (and not with parent/guardian)
- Nor does it include younger siblings (infants-5 year old), a number that could easily hit 1 million.
So, when HUD reports a mere 650,000 or so homeless people counted in these PIT tallies, and Congress responds in kind with chump change for homeless programs, well, it's infuriating. And it's wrong. Which is why I got a little, umm, testy when being interviewed on CNN last month.
An effort is afoot in Congress to change the definition. Yep, it will increase the numbers. But at least we won't continue to be stumbling in the dark, ignoring reality.
And HEAR US is working with a small group of people to shine a LED spotlight on the ultra-ignored segment of the homeless population, homeless infants and toddlers. Littlest Nomads we call them.
Seems to me that it's time to have a big ol' camp out in front of the Capitol. It will make it easier to count the growing number of people without homes. Then what will the excuse be?