The Plight of the Homeless

10 Jul

Photo depiction of Gustus-BozarthIf or when you ever gave a thought to the homeless, what was going through your mind? Do you think of them as being lazy and mentally deficient; people whose only interest is in standing on a street corner and panhandling for money? Perhaps you saw a man sitting in a wheelchair, or standing on a pair of crutches with one leg amputated at the knee and thought, “What is his story?”

What rarely crosses our mind (but perhaps we’d do well to remember) is a simple phrase, “There but for the grace of God go I.

More and more families are realizing that they are only one paycheck away from joining the Middle Class homeless population.

I know this for myself, firsthand. I’ve lived out of my car; I did so for approximately six months in 2002 while looking for full-time, permanent work and as I began the process of rebuilding a life that had come unraveled a little at a time over the previous three years. What money I made during that time went to pay for the storage unit within which my life’s belongings were stored, gas in my jeep and food for my nourishment.

My point is just this; many of us are much nearer to joining the ranks of the homeless than we would ever want to admit.

According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, Urban Institute and specifically the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers (and estimates drawn from a study of service providers across the country at two different times of the year in 1996):

On a given night in October, 444,000 people (in 346,000 households) experienced homelessness – which translates to 6.3% of the population of people living in poverty. On a given night in February, 842,000 (in 637,000 households) experienced homelessness – which translates to almost 10% of the population of people living in poverty.

Converting these estimates into an annual projection, the numbers that emerge are 2.3 million people (based on the October estimate) and 3.5 million people (based on the February estimate). This translates to approximately 1% of the U.S. population experiencing homelessness each year, 38% (October) to 39% (February) of them being children (Urban Institute 2000).

— National Coalition for the Homeless

Tonight’s blog entry is written with a two-fold purpose in mind… Clearly, I want others to realize just how serious this problem is. Most importantly, I want our elected representatives to start taking the issue of our economy and other problems facing the average citizen (nutrition being one of those) and our dependency on foreign interests SERIOUSLY!

I’d like to see our country get out of the business of policing the soil of others and return its focus on taking care of our own. I’m not talking about handouts but rather, opportunities.

I’m all for progress and I would never want to return to those long-ago days when black men and women were slaves, women did not have the right to vote and diseases/illnesses that we now have medicines for were killing off people by the hundreds or more. No, I’m proud of the advances that have been made over the course of the industrial age and the eras that followed, but…

I also recognize that we have become complacent; both in our homes as well as our local communities AND at the National level.

The other reason I’m writing about this topic today is in order to shine the light on a homeless man who deserves some praise for demonstrating that patriotism is not dead. Read all about it here.

Mr. Bozarth, thank you…


Related Links:

National Coalition for the Homeless

“The National Coalition for the Homeless is a national network of people who are currently experiencing or who have experienced homelessness, activists and advocates, community-based and faith-based service providers, and others committed to a single mission.” more »

Gustus Bozarth, Homeless yet Patriotic

Bozarth’s selfless act was captured on surveillance tape — and now the video has caught the attention of people all over the country who want to reward him for his patriotism — and help him get back on his feet. more »

A Paycheck Away…


Tags: ,

About The Author

54-years old and determined to sail through life with a smile (but sometimes brash as hell). LOL. Born and raised in Carlsbad, New Mexico but having lived more than half of my life in Texas. Raised with a strong faith in God but describe myself more as simply a faithful person rather than a Christian. (Too many people rely on their religious 'beliefs' as an excuse to maintain a closed mind rather than emulate the loving nature I believe Jesus Christ did represent.) Registered as a Democrat but fiscally I'm probably more likely to identify with the Republicans. Am equally disgusted with both parties at the moment and tired of the status quo in Washington, D.C. I'm a spiritualist who believes you should reach for your dreams and believes you can attain them, for the only thing that really stands between you and your goals ... is yourself. Favorite quote of recent is "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, the present is a 'present' (a gift)..." —Author unknown

Add a Comment

I love comments! However, all comments are moderated and will not appear until they are approved. Are you an abusive troll with nothing to contribute? Don't bother. Selling something? Don't bother. Spam linking? Don't bother but if you have something of value you'd like to add to the conversation (or would just like to drop in with a quick hello and something pleasant), by all means "Proceed!" >^..^<


Your personal information is optional. Email addresses are never shown and are only used by myself if a public reply would be too personal or inappropriate here. The URL link to your website or blog will be provided, so only fill this in if you want people to visit!

Comment moderation is in use. Please do not submit your
comment twice -- it will appear shortly.

  1. Davide

    July 10, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Very good read! Too many homeless. Thanks for posting this. BTW sorry about last night I had too much wine

    • MichaelM

      July 10, 2010 at 11:11 am

      I appreciate the comment and yes, there are too many homeless. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve given somebody a little bit of money or bought a meal for somebody on the street, because they were down on their luck. After a while, I just began buying those coupon books from McDonalds and Burger King. It isn’t a solution to the entire problem but at least I can rest easy that one or two people have a meal in their stomach at the end of the day.

      Don’t worry about last night (I though your wine influenced comments were rather funny)… LOL

      Take care. 😉

      • Sebastian

        July 10, 2010 at 10:41 pm

        Michael, When I was in seminary we always wore “clerical dress” so when on the downtown streets we were always approached by panhandlers.

        Some in my class argued over how to treat a “request for a quarter to buy a cup of coffee (Yes, in those day one could buy a cup of coffee for 25 cents or less). The majority of the guys said, tell the guy you’d take to a diner and pay for his coffee. Then the debate was, Should you stay with him or just pay and leave.

        An Irish-American priest who was a faculty member was sitting close by. He said, Fellas, if you take a man and pay for his coffee, you had better stay and talk to him. He is a human being, not an animal that just needs a plate of food set on the floor.

        Then he went on to say, “I know you are afraid that if you give him the quarter he might spend it on booze and you don’t want to contribute to alcoholism. But you making the decision how and where to spend the quarter “for” him, might just take away the last shred of dignity and self worth the guy has; your treating him like an “object of your charity,” like a “child” could be the last thing to put him into final depression or dispair. Please treat him with the human dignity he deserves.

        If it’s true, and around meal time, tell him you are on your ways to lunch and invite him to dine with you and converse with him as a new friend. This is not a time to scold or preach at him. If he refuses your invitation just give him the quarter.

        I learned a lesson about compassion, about treating human beings (even panhandlers) with the human dignity that everyone deserves. I will never forget that lesson, and although I fail some times, that’s how I try to live my life.

        Thanks for the post Michael.

        • MichaelM

          July 11, 2010 at 12:13 am

          That Irish-American priest made some wonderful points! Thanks for the comment…