Since 1993, San Luis Obispo has held its annual SLO International Film Festival. The event brings big name entertainers to the community, screens award winning films and documentaries, but is also a showcase for films produced by independent film makers.
One such film was a documentary titled "Suckerfish" which dealt with the serious topic of homelessness. The film has created an impact among those who were fortunate enough to see it, and started a chain reaction of events, least of which was the birth of this blog.
The title for the film came from something one of its interviewees said:
"You’re just one paycheck away from being in the same f—king place, Suckerfish!"
I’ve often wondered just how true that statement really is.
Homelessness doesn’t just happen overnight. The majority of those who are unfortunate enough to experience it first hand will tell you that it was a series of events that lead to their becoming homeless.
It could have started with the loss of a job, a serious medical condition that led to mounting medical bills, rising costs of housing and any number of other things. Among women, domestic violence is the prime cause of their homelessness. Yet, the bottom line is that lack of sufficient financial resources is the reason the vast majority of Americans become homeless.
According to a press release, on 24 January 2006, by ACNielson, 22% of Americans have no "spare" cash. These people are literally living paycheck to paycheck. That would mean that there are roughly 65 million Americans who are at serious risk of becoming homeless if their source of income is in any way interrupted – that’s 1 out of 5 people who are one paycheck away from becoming homeless.
Since approximately 39% of all America’s homeless are children that would mean there are potentially an additional 25,535,000 children who face possible homelessness. And, since 48 percent of all homeless children are under the age of 5, there could be as many as 12,168,000 pre-schoolers who could end up having to live on the streets.
And, before someone accuses me of making dire predictions let me clarify: I am NOT saying these will children will become homeless. Based on current trends however, there is a strong chance that some of them will indeed become homeless.
Is it just me, or is anyone else bothered by the prospect of homeless children?
How can we, as a nation, have the arrogance to tell other nations how they should be treating their citizens when we are completely ignoring those children within our own borders?
How can we continue to tolerate our nation’s leaders foolishly spending taxpayer dollar on those things that do not help improve the living conditions of those of our country that are forced to live in sub-poverty conditions?
Maybe Congress should stop spending $100 per toilet seat and $25 per light bulb and do their shopping at Wal-Mart like the rest of us.
Perhaps then, they’d have money left over to spend on things that really matter – things like making sure that no child goes hungry or without proper shelter!