There’s something very wrong with the mentality in our country…

11 05 2009

I read a news blip today about the city of New York now enforcing a decade old law that allows the city’s homeless shelters to charge rent.

Yes, I thought I had misread it as well, but it is no mistype.  The premise is that an individual using a homeless shelter but yet finding an income should pay rent for the use of the facility – out of concern that patrons may abuse the privilege.  The privilege of spending your night in a gymnasium sized building on a cot-style bed used by hundreds prior to you.  Yes, that’s something likely to be abused.  How, I do wonder, the city anticipates that these homeless will work their way out of the shelter and into a lifestyle that at least includes a lock on a door and their very own mattress if their income is to fund the shelter.
In 2003, Key West began bussing homeless 150 miles north to Miami to help boost the tourism industry in the Keys.

Denver has been practising this for over twenty years by giving homeless a one-way ticket to anywhere in the continental US.

California tried to institute this practise in 2006 in the San Francisco area, but it has not been favourably received.

The homeless situation in our country is dire – a survey by HUD in 2007 determined that 3.5 million people in the US are homeless.

Of them, 40% are families with children.

41% are white and 40% are black.

Of the 3.5 million homeless, 1.4 million are not yet 18 years of age.

Our country has sent 12 billion dollars to Iraq to help the country stabilize – with no tangible clue as to where the bulk of those funds were spent.

Another 5 plus billion was sent to Pakistan to help their military in 2007, this is in addition to our annual contributions of 300 million to their military – and in addition to the invoices we paid for their fuel, ammunition and other costs to support our forces there.

We have spent over 10 billion dollars to build a fingerprint data base of all foreigners that visit our country legally – this is to help stop terrorism.  (Just a quick clue for the slow folks behind the shiny desks, the legal visitors aren’t the issue.)

The US government funded a research project lead by the National Institute on Health with a price tag of half a million dollars to study the behaviour of intoxicated homosexuals to help reduce the transmission of AIDS – even though the study is being done in Argentina.  The expensive task left to the researchers is to scope out bars and watch the sexual habits of homosexuals after they have had a few too many in Buenos Aires.

1 in every 466 housing units in the United States as of January 2009 is in foreclosure.

In Alabama that rate is 1 in every 2323.

In Nebraska it is 1 in every 25,187.

In Florida it is 1 in every 214.

In Nevada it is 1 in every 76.

In some areas, such as California, new vacant homes are being demolished as it was determined to be less of a loss than to leave the home abandoned.  This has been done in other cities such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Buffalo, Bridgeport, Rochester, Jacksonville – I could go on.

I guess they do not have homeless issues in these cities.

Obviously the latter statement was rife with sarcasm.

So with the abundance of wasted monies and the need to charge homeless rent and the desire to destroy vacant homes when there are so many in need – why is it that our government cannot seem to gather its wits about it to make some solutions?

It seems to me that a housing project of vacant homes in Anytown, USA could reasonably draw up a deed for Homeless Family A with a government funded down payment that could be funded from any one of thousands of their usual projects with high price tags and get these people off of the street!

One would think, or at least this one would, that the only way to solve our homeless crisis is to help the homeless move up.  They aren’t going to find that steady job without use of a bathroom and clean clothes.  They aren’t going to solve their hopes of saving up enough to move up if they are paying rent for a hot and a cot.

Our county where I live has the highest foreclosure rate in the entire country.  The entire nation.  One in eleven homes is in foreclosure.  Our county courts hear an average of 1000 foreclosure cases a day, spending less than one minute per case.  Many are houses that greedy investors bought up to flip a quick return following hurricane season 2004 and 2005 when the housing market boomed – many of these foreclosed homes are not even lived in.  Our homeless rate is estimated at 3500.  In one week we could solve our homeless issue in our county.

But the idea of giving a homeless family or person a home to live in at no cost until they get on their feet is not something many people, certainly not pocketbook minded government officials, can agree with.  Why should this person who has no job, no home, and who has failed to find either be given a home?  What have they done to earn it?  That’s the general mentality.  It is that mentality that gave way to justifying a bill that would allow homeless shelters to charge rent.

I haven’t ever been homeless.  I slept in a field near my family’s farm once for about five hours as a kid.  I thought I heard a snake and I knew I felt a bug and that was all it took for me to go home then.  But about 6 years ago I almost became homeless.  I had been laid off.  I was denied welfare because when my parents died I had been left a trust fund with 60k.  It didn’t matter that those funds had been long gone more than ten years prior.  I had two kids.  I didn’t qualify for unemployment.  And my ex-husband hadn’t paid child support – ever.  After three months, I was served my eviction notice.  And though my boyfriend at the time, now my husband, had offered to move my children and I into a house, he and I had only been together a few months prior to my downward spiral and I could not take him up on that offer.  I had no family to turn to and even attempts to get a job flipping burgers were fruitless.

Fortunately, things turned around for me.

But for many they don’t.  And it really upsets me that so many officials seem to view our nation’s homelessness issue as a problem that people get themselves into, as though they had a choice.  And to make matters worse, officials would have the audacity to presume that people in this unfortunate situation are there to leach?  They are branded as drug addicts or whores or alcoholics and handed a bus ticket to be someone else’s problem where they can be once more swept under the rug.

The homeless issue isn’t going to solve itself.  These individuals will need a hand up to a solid foundation before they can turn their lives around.

If you think otherwise for one moment, set your cell down, your keys aside, your wallet or purse behind and take a one way bus ticket into the metropolitan area of your city one brisk morning and try to find your way home – hungry, penniless, without a person in the world to call on.

This is what our country expects of our homeless, except they are doing so without a home to return to.

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3 responses

20 06 2010
Qibb

I couldn’t agree more!

15 07 2010
protogere

Thanks Qibb!

10 02 2011
Blackjack

Can I just say what a relief to seek out someone who truly knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You positively know methods to convey an issue to mild and make it important. More people need to read this and perceive this aspect of the story. I cant consider youre not more popular since you definitely have the gift.

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