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, May 23, 2016

Diane's Gettysburg NO Address

(Title credit, Mary Ann Parks)
“FOUR score and seven years ago, our forefathers could not have imagined the nation they founded (conceived in liberty) would turn their collective backs on their brothers and sisters who are without shelter and comfort.” (Thanks to Deborah Cooper Harding for the adaptation)
I’m scheduled to give a keynote to a group in Gettysburg on June 9. The topic is affordable housing and homeless families. My FB friends have great faith in my ability to deliver a stem-winder. Sure hope so. Sure don't know what to say.
Having tracked and posted news on FB about homelessness of families and youth for the past 11 years as part of my HEAR US endeavors, I’ve noticed that we’re not seeming to make progress on this essential issue. In fact, the numbers of homeless students identified by public schools has continued to skyrocket, over 1.3 million, more than double since I started driving around the country chronicling this epidemic. And attitudes of a seemingly growing number of people appear, well, snarly when it comes to kids. Like it’s their fault.
A few recent stories demonstrated worthwhile journalism. The Eugene, OR Register-Guard shared a poignant and thorough look at what I’m sure I’ll see when I’m out there later this summer. Not pretty, despite best efforts of my friends out there working in the schools.
I get what Abe was saying here. Three decades of working
on homelessness issues makes me feel like
an Old Woman!
Perusing family/youth homelessness stories with today’s news cycle is damn depressing. Mainstream media seems intent to portray the worst of the nation and world--ignoring the plight of vulnerable children in the process. And as Debbie paraphrased, it seems like we’ve turned our collective backs on our brothers and sisters without shelter and comfort.
I don’t know what kind of human could read the OR story and not feel agony for these families. I’m baffled that this national plight has yet to stir any significant movement.
Another op-ed piece, quite well written, described the apathy and cruelty toward single adults, bureaucratically labeled ABAWDs (able-bodied adults without dependents) who now will be “lucky” if they get 3 months of food stamps/SNAP. Knowing ABAWDs as I do, this is going to cause a real hardship. For some it will be life/death. And remember, some of these folks live doubled up with families who will share their their own peril.
Theses stories have garnered little attention. Bathroom crisis has swallowed up what’s left of the news stream after the big “stories” of politics.
With no political will, or so it seems, what am I supposed to say about affordable housing to this Gettysburg crowd? Let’s be nice and do the right thing and magically create enough affordable housing for for millions of our sisters and brothers across the land. What would Abe say?
Abraham Lincoln's carefully crafted address, secondary to other presentations that day, was one of the greatest and most influential statements of national purpose. In just over two minutes, Lincoln reiterated the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence[5] and proclaimed the Civil War as a struggle for the preservation of the Union sundered by the secession crisis,[6] with "a new birth of freedom"[7] that would bring true equality to all of its citizens.[8] Lincoln also redefined the Civil War as a struggle not just for the Union, but also for the principle of human equality.[5] Wikipedia
Oh, so human equality isn’t a new concept??! Way to go, Abe, you radical Republican! Wondering how today’s bootstraps’ and every man for themselves compares to those listening to Abe? My historically-astute friends Pat LaMarche and Pat Vandoren could probably say something about this.
I know what I’ve seen in 250,000+ miles of travel through 48 states over the past 11 years. Despite herculean dedication of McKinney-Vento homeless liaisons, shelter staff, human service workers and a handful of astute political leaders, plus courageous and stalwart efforts of parents and loved ones to get their kids through these tough times, it’s harder and harder.
When the new president steps into office in January 2017, she/he will replace Cabinet officers, including that of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). So whatever progress we’ve made, including the dubiously titled “functional zero” way of describing (faux) ending veterans’ homelessness, the quickly forgotten and equally ineffective “10 Year Plans” and the 2020 deadline for ending family homelessness, all will be scrapped. I want to be clear--many people have worked hard, in good faith--on these efforts. It’s just that their hands have been tied behind their backs by lack of funding and zippo political will. HEAR US will continue to encourage action, large and small, via our “Compassion Epidemic” section of our website. 
So back to my Gettysburg NO Address. Maybe I’ll just let the experts explain.