If 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…
“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 »
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 »