They say homelessness is invisible, largely because most folks choose not to see it. I recall that old Roy Orbison ballad “Pretty Paper,” which tells the story of busy holiday shoppers consumed with their own lives, blind to the homeless man on the sidewalk right in front of them. Today, in the pages of the Washington Post, I read a most heart-felt story from a parent who opens up about his son, once an adorable toddler but today lives on the streets of San Francisco. “My son is schizophrenic” reminds us that homelessness isn’t a choice…sometimes, it chooses you.
Here at HUD, a relatively small number of people, heroes really, wake up each morning and work to end homelessness in all its forms. Most folks don’t realize that there is a federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. It’s called Opening Doors and it sets a very ambitious marker that some may consider pie in the sky. The plan puts us on a path to end Veterans and chronic homelessness by 2015; and to ending homelessness among children, families, and youth by 2020.
So, the next time you pass by a homeless person on the street, if you do nothing else, make certain they are visible to you.