Wishful Thinking?

Posted: January 21, 2008 in Bureauacracy, Discrimination, Goals, Government, Homelessness, Hopes, Politics

Yesterday morning a gentleman left a comment on my post: Fatigue.

Mr. Perez mentioned that he was "sad, worrying 24 hours a day" about many of his "American" friends – some of who are in danger of becoming homeless in the very near future. He went on to say that his friends were middle class, some of them military, who are losing their homes.  

He spoke about how he had moved first to Panama, then all the way down to South America. However, what struck me the most about Mr. Perez’s comment was the very last line:

"Sorry, My American dream is gone."

Throughout this nation there are millions of Americans for whom the same is true: their American dream is gone. Now they call the streets of this nation’s cities "home."

They come from all walks of life, every religious background, educational levels, men, women, children. None are discriminated against by homelessness. Yet, their homelessness causes them to be discriminated against by their fellow citizens. They are viewed with suspicion, scorn, disdain – and in some cases even with malevolence.

But, it doesn’t stop there.

The "red tape" that most of them must to wade through just in attempt to try and get some form of aid from government agencies only serves to prolong their homelessness. Despite the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (the first and ONLY major Federal legislation pertaining to homelessness) there is still wide spread homelessness, which seems to be getting worse.

Former Vice President Al Gore – then a Senator and one of the McKinney-Vento Act’s chief sponsors said of the McKinney-Vento when it was first introduced to the Senate:

"(McKinney) is an essential first step towards establishing a national agenda for action to eradicate homelessness in America… No one in this body should believe that the legislation we begin considering today is anything more than a first step towards reversing the record increase in homelessness"

I find it interesting – and disturbing – that no other legislation has been presented by Congress to further expanded or strengthen this nation’s need toward finding a true remedy for homelessness.

True, there are Federal mandates, through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that require local governments to implement 10 year plans to end homelessness or face losing Federal Funding. However, the requirements are minimal at best. Furthermore, there is little or no funding to ensure that HUD can truly enforce the mandate.

In essence what has been created is more bureaucracy. This will certainly make it more difficult for the homeless to receive the type of government assistance that could help them transition back into the main stream of their community. And all the while, politicians at every level of government will go home each night, crawl into their beds believing that they’ve made life better for those Americans who are plagued by the experience of homelessness. When all they really will have done is condemn the homeless to prolonged bouts with homelessness.

The American dream or the American fantasy?

It’s a toss up.

Not many of the homeless that I’ve met actually believe in the American dream anymore. To them the phrase "The American dream" is nothing more than hollow words. Nothing of substance. In fact, the only dream they have is about having a bed in which to sleep in tonight…

Or should I have called it "wishful thinking?"

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