Who’s To Blame?

Posted: March 18, 2008 in Employment, Government, Homelessness, Misconceptions, Money, Stereotypes

Most folks who use the Internet know about search engines and have a basic knowledge of how to use them to find information: you type in a "search term" and – voila – you get a list of links that (hopefully) will send you to a sight that has the information you asked for.

One of the administration tools available to me, with regards to this blog, it the ability to see what types of search terms a person has used and which has lead them to these pages.  

For the last couple of days, I noticed one search term in particular:

is homelessness their fault?

Actually, that’s a very good question. One which does deserve an answer.  

The answer?

Yes and No.

There are certainly those individuals who are homeless because of their own actions, inactions and choices. Some have found themselves homeless because of drug and/or alcohol additions. Others are homeless because they have been irresponsible with their finances. And yes, some are homeless because they are just too lazy to do anything productive with their lives. On top of that, there are even some who have deliberately chosen to be homeless.

On the reverse side of that, however, are those who have become homeless as a result of a string of "bad luck" or circumstances that could not have been foreseen, let alone prevented.

There are those homeless who have mental disabilities and are unable to care for themselves and, subsequently, cannot provide a stable living environment for themselves. The lack of adequate homeless services designed to meet their specific needs means that they end up on the streets. Even in communities that have organizations and agencies for providing aid to those with mental disabilities are limited in how many services they can provide due to lack of funding.

For senior citizens living on fixed incomes, all it takes is one bureaucratic snafu that causes them to miss receiving their monthly social security check and they can – and in some instances do – find themselves homeless before they can get things straightened out.

The same is true for those persons with physical disabilities.

The current national economic crisis doesn’t help matters either.

On January 24th of this year, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) presented a list of recommendations to Congress to lessen the effects of "… the economic distress of the mortgage crisis…"

U.S. Conference of Mayors President, Douglas Palmer (Mayor of Trenton, NJ) stated,

"Up to 2 million homeowners face foreclosure this year. The word ‘recession’ is on everyone’s lips. Now is not the time to be timid. We need strong and immediate action from both Congress and the mortgage industry."

At a November 20007 meeting held in Detroit, MI, with mortgage lenders and community activists, a delegation of USCM Mayors, presented a report which projected that,

"… the foreclosure crisis would result in 524,000 fewer jobs being created this year and a potential loss of $6.6 billion in tax revenues in ten states."

It’s anyone’s guess how many of the possible 2 million homeowners facing foreclosures will eventually end up homeless.

If that weren’t enough, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, give the 2007 national unemployment rate as being, 4.6% – approximately 7,078,000 persons.

For February of this year, the unemployed rate is given as 4.8%

There are just too many reasons why persons become homeless. And it isn’t always possible to know why a person is homeless just by looking at them. The only way to really find out why a person is homeless is to come right out and ask them. At least that way we’d know if someone was really at "fault." There’s no need to assign blame where it doesn’t belong.

But, rather than ask ourselves whose fault it is, perhaps we should be asking ourselves how we can turn things around and reduce the numbers of homeless.

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