January 28, 2011

Life on the Streets

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For most of us, this time of year is brutal on our heating bills but could you imagine actually living outside?  Last night, I joined a team of volunteers and ventured out in Washington, D.C. to document a problem confronting far too many Americans – street homelessness.  In 2009, volunteers like these counted nearly 260,000 persons living on our streets during a single night.  They were living in public parks, wooded areas, their cars and other places not meant for people to live.  This is a national tragedy. 

Just last month, we marked a sobering day of remembrance – Homeless Memorial Day.  It was a sad reminder that beyond the daily hardships of living on our streets, people are actually dying out in the elements.  How can this be happening?!  In part, it’s because homelessness is an invisible problem though it’s actually out there for all to see.

As part of HUD’s Let’s Make Everybody Count! campaign, communities across our country are participating in a national street and shelter count of homeless persons.  These one-night counts usually occur at the end of January, traditionally the coldest time of year in many parts of the country.  Conducting these snapshot counts at this time of year is designed to make it easier for communities to account for as many homeless persons as possible since clients are more likely to seek shelter and less likely to be among the unsheltered.

Understanding the scope of this problem is critical in solving it.  Which is why President Obama is throwing the full weight of our government behind a national plan to prevent and end homelessness.  Opening Doors is the name behind the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness and puts the country on a path to end veterans and chronic homelessness by 2015; and to ending homelessness among children, family, and youth by 2020.   And just last week, HUD awarded another $1.4 billion to help keep nearly 7,000 local homeless programs operating in the coming year.

So my appeal to those reading this blog is to take a moment to recognize that we have neighbors living outside.  And, of course, if you want to help, here’s a good resource to find a locate a homeless assistance provider near you.

7 Responses to Life on the Streets

  1. ****Homeless Count********

    Did they count…………
    ..the ones in the crackhouses, whorehouses, methlabs?
    …the unsung heros who open their basements and attics to homeless people?
    …the ones who slept on their ex-girlfriend’s sofa last night?
    …the ones who broke into factories?
    …the ones who traveled to the suberbs to find a house under construction?
    ….the ones who sleep in the sewer system?
    ….the ones who stay in abandoned stores, factories, houses?
    ….the ones who stay in their cars?
    …the ones who stay at the library?
    …the prostitute staying at a customer’s house until he gets sick of her or when their wife gets back in town?
    …the ones who go out of their way not to be counted. (the teen runaway, the convict, the one dealing with extreme paranoia)?
    ….the ones doing favors to find a temp bed?
    ….the ones on the highway hitchhiking across town?
    ….the ones working the truck-stops?
    ….the ones at the motels/hotels?
    ….the ones traveling out of town to find a job?
    ….the ones sleeping in the woods?
    ….the ones in the hospitals?
    …the ones at the campground?
    ….the ones sleeping in Kinkos bathroom?
    ….the ones who made their home in a dumpster?

    *******That’s just the beginning*********
    *******There are thousands of places the homeless make their home that the average American would never consider.******

  2. I couldn’t have POSTED it any better John! Repeat Repost and Repeat again 4 the WORLD to HEAR!My my my America and lets not get started on the GOOD SUNDAY morning TUESDAY&WEDNESDAY evening going to church LORD I LOVE U Chistains! Interestingly whom LOVE the LORD whom they cannot see and QUITE A FEW N E V E R will but who cares about thw homeless families that are NOT my kids!How oh my LORD JESUS is this happening to your daughter America the beautiful! Why is she looking so filthy-ugly-greedy-insensitive-immoral??? Whats it going to take to WAKE HER UP! Church folks, my fellow brothern-sisters in Christ,professed born again believers ??? R u shucking UR part in loving humanity over 2 governmental systems, the WORLD and anyonelse who will deal with the POOR, HOMELESS, and UNDERSERVED??? Pleeeeeez DONT DO THIS, it is as much a living part of the bible as yoy PREACHING it! Clergy leaders ACROSS this UNIVERSE love is a verb annd it maintains peace! S T O P horting believers and get busy being about our FATHERS business less U find yourself in the soup and foofstamp line! God Bless the HEARERS that DO HIS WORD while maintaining PEACE in LOVE!

  3. Fred/Paul these are good. Fred I would love to be a part of this and essentially I am trying to do my small part in Baton Rouge, LA by helping homeless women and women who could potentially become homeless. Paul your words are so true and really all of us need to be counting the homeless but more importantly if we lived with an ‘others’ mentality each person could help a homeless or potentially homeless. Unless we’re millionaires, which I am not, we’re all one step away from becoming homeless ourselves. I would love to see more programs for those who fall just over the 200% poverty level because these are the ones that are potentially at risk. I know because I am/was one of those. I’ve found myself homeless, but not a true homeless, but homeless nonetheless. My heart and passion is in saving/helping people to not become homeless.

    I know both of you are doing some things to do your part in saving peoples humanities and dignities; keep up the good work. Donna

  4. In response to John Disque,as a homeless advocate for transgender people,I find your questions valid, and there is evidence that we are “going into the woods” to find them count them, and hopefully bring them to shelter.HUD’s Let’s Make Everybody Count, for instance, and many local advocacies are opening their hearts ,and dedicating their time to make this colossal event ,this “homelessness count” happen.

    For the transgender person, homlessness can be a death sentence due to sexual violence, and hate crimes they are vulnerable to.(see NCTE report on transgender discrimination)

    We must be willing to do more research and outreach to remedy the underlying causes of homelessness, such as chronic unemployment due to discrimination, mental illness, and substance abuse.There are no easy answers to this homlessness epidemic, but talking it out ,as we are here, is very valuable, and we are blessed to have such a venue as this,HUD Blog, not for “tweet points”, or speaking points, to hear ourselves speak, or even to complain for the sole purpose of complaining.

    I do not see your questions as complaining,but the beginning of a national, community dialog to address ,and find solutions to help those most vulnerable in our society.

    We must all LOOK, however painful it is.I believe we are searching,counting , listening, then as a nation we need to search our hearts,collaborate, and pool our resources to bring an end to this tragic ,chronic,and systemic problem of homelessness.

    Because of this administration’s efforts, there is a feeling of boots on the ground, and clearly visualization of this problem has moved to the implementation phase.Now, let’s hope the more “tabloidesque” media outlets will report the full story , regarding HUD’s efforts , and this administration effort to get the job done.

  5. Congratulations in your effort on the Make Everybody Count program.It is truly nice to see that there is compassion for the homeless.

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