The Next Question

Posted: October 25, 2007 in Acceptance, Goals, Homelessness, Housing, Money, Poverty

When I wrote the post "In The Beginning…" about a week ago, I mentioned that over the last month or so I had been asked two questions:

"How does a person become homeless?

and

"What are the effects of homelessness on society?"   

I tried to answer the first question, although it took me five posts to do so. Those five posts left me emotionally drained. Because of that I was going to postpone answering the second question for some other time in the future, but now I see that I can’t do that. I have to try and deal with that question while it’s fresh in my mind. So, let me quote from a three part report titled: "Globalization and Labor," which you can find on the National Coalition for the Homeless website.

According to the 2002 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Program of the 6.2 billion people on earth, 1.2 billion live on less than $1 a day for their hard work. This would be OK if they were able to afford basic food, clothing, shelter, and access to health care for their toil. Unfortunately, this is not the case. All across this planet, people are desperate to work, but the wage they are paid won’t afford them the basic necessities in life.

Homelessness directly disrupts the lives of the homeless themselves, but it also indirectly disrupts the lives of those in the community in which they live. And it all comes back down to one common root: money. For the homeless, it is the lack of money. For the community in which the homeless live, it is the cost of maintaining the homeless.

As the number of homeless increase in any community, the burden of providing for the homeless rest on the shoulders of the taxpayers to pay for such things as: homeless shelters, day centers, emergency room visits, and in some cities, additional police personnel to man special "homeless task forces."

Although I haven’t seen any actual studies or reports that would confirm my thesis, I believe that it costs more to "support" the homeless than it would if there were some type of "safety nets" to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.

Let me explain my reasoning…

For every one person who becomes homeless two things happen: the area loses a taxpayer and, the rest of the community ends up having to spend more in taxes to maintain that person. It’s a "lose lose" situation. Plus, the longer that person remains homeless, the more it will cost the community overall.

There are a lot of different statistical numbers floating around on just how long most people remain homeless, but those numbers are actually a moot subject because as one person finds their way back into the mainstream of society, there are one or two other persons who become homeless and take their place.

Perhaps, we should start thinking about preventing homelessness as a type of investment: an investment in the future of not only the local communities, but the entire nation.

By investing in preventing homelessness, it would cost less overall. That would mean that we would be behaving in a fiscally responsible manner. The net result would be a stronger economy. Stronger economy, strong country.

To me then, it would seem reasonable to also endeavor to find an effective way of integrating back into society and making productive members of the communities in which they live. That would put people back on to the tax role. More taxpayers. Less taxes required per person.

Of course, if we were able to figure out some way of re-introducing the homeless back into society and making them productive taxpayers, I’m sure that politicians would still figure out some way of raising taxes and foolishly spend that money as well.

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