The Children Left Behind

Posted: June 14, 2008 in Children, Family, Homeless Shelters, Homelessness, Housing, Morality

As if folks didn’t already know, the U.S. economy really stinks right now. The price of gasoline keeps going up, as does the overall profits that the oil companies are making – $400 million worth just for the first quarter of this year. Yet, they’re belly aching how they’re not making any money.

I think the key word there is: profits.  

The dictionary defines the word profit as:

‘The excess of revenues over outlays in a given period of time (including depreciation and other non-cash expenses)"

I’m not an economic wizard, but it seems to me that if you’ve made a profit you’re ahead of the game. With $400 million dollars in profit, you would think that the oil companies have nothing to complain about. But, because of their corporate greed, every mother’s child is now spending significantly more of their money at the gas pump. Which, of course, means the amount of money they have left over for other things like mortgage, rent, and food is drastically reduced.

This past Friday, I read a CNN online news article, 73,000 homes lost to foreclosure in May.

I think that the article’s first paragraph says it all:

"The housing crisis grew worse in May, as more than 73,000 American families lost their homes to bank repossessions, up a staggering 158% from the 28,548 households that were dispossessed in May 2007."

There are two things I wonder about regarding those numbers.

The 73,000 families mentioned in the article represent only folks whose homes were foreclosed on. It doesn’t take into account those families who faced evictions from rental units. Since it’s hard to believe that there were absolutely no evictions for the month of May, it would be safe to say that the numbers of families who found themselves without a place of their own to call home is probably a lot higher than just 73,000.

So naturally I have to ask: where are all those families now living?

Some may have been able to move in with family or friends. Others may have been able to secure housing by renting an apartment or house. But have all of these families been able to avoid becoming homeless? In my opinion: highly unlikely.

The article quotes a Mr. Rick Sharga, of RealtyTrac (which, according to Business Week, is a company that "collects and aggregates foreclosure data; appends the data with estimated property values, comparable sales, loan history, tax lien and bankruptcy records, trustee and lender information, and property details"), as saying that there is a possibility that record foreclosure filings could potentially continue for about the next 18 months.

Only time will tell how many more families will lose their homes as a result of a sagging economy, rising inflation and wages that aren’t keeping up. And only time will tell how many of those families find themselves homeless and trying to get assistance from homeless support service agencies.

It’s bad enough when single adults become homeless. In fact, most homeless support service agencies are primarily geared toward helping single homeless adults. However, when a family becomes homeless, there are the needs of children which become a part of the equation. Yet, despite the fact that homeless families are the fastest growing segment of America’s homeless population, services to accommodate the needs of the nation’s homeless children is so woefully inadequate as to be virtually non-existent.

What irks me the most about all of this is the number of organizations which provide aid to children living in poverty. However, the children that they help are children in other parts of the world – not here in the U.S.

Even Hollywood celebrities and musicians, whose exorbitant earnings we pay for each time we go to the movies or rent a DVD or video or buy their CD’s, are on the band wagon of helping children in remote parts of the world, but not here at home.

In Washington, DC – our elected leaders are walking around with their chests all puffed out like male pigeons in heat; so proud of themselves regarding the so-called "No Child Left Behind" initiatives. Yet, on the streets of this nation’s cities there will be over one million children who will experience homelessness this year.

Perhaps the initiatives should be renamed to "Some Children Most Definitely Left Behind." That would be more accurate of a term.

I have no problem at all with our nation wanting to help children who live in poverty in other parts of the world. But then, why aren’t other countries offering to help our nation’s poverty stricken children?

The National Center on Family Homelessness fact sheet, America’s Homeless Children, provides the following statistics:

  • At least 1.35 million children are homeless during a year’s time.
  • Most children living with homeless parents are very young (42% are under the age of 6 years).
  • Homeless children go hungry twice as often as other children and 25% of homeless children report eating less after becoming homeless.
  • 47% of homeless school age children have problems such as anxiety, depression, or withdrawal, compared to 18% of other children.

What do these statistics say of us a society?

I can tell you what it says about our priorities…

  1. Although I’m in Canada, I completely agree with you.

    So many missions, and support groups are sent to the developing world to help those in need there. What about the families closer to home who need help though, and there are lots of them in North America.

    The reality of it is that those huge corporate profits you mentioned could give alot back to the people in need, at home and overseas.

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