Social Immaturity

Posted: August 15, 2008 in Bureauacracy, Children, Compassion, Family, Government, Homelessness, Housing, Morality

Last week, the news was full of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) claims of the numbers of homeless have declined. Of course, the declining numbers represent ONLY those who fit the definition of "chronically homeless" persons. And an extremely narrow definition it is at that.  

Please don’t misunderstand me; I think it’s an extremely good thing that some homeless folks are somehow being placed into stabilized housing. That being said however, I wonder if it isn’t a "one step forward, two steps back" situation.

Despite the reduction in the numbers of chronically homeless persons, the overall number of homeless persons hasn’t declined. If anything the number of folks who find themselves homeless has risen – in particular the numbers of families who are homeless.

This is where the "one step forward, two steps back" theme comes in:

A chronically homeless person is defined, at the federal level, as a single, unaccompanied adult with a disability. One person.

A family on the other hand, is a minimum of two persons. A couple: two people. A single parent with a child: two people. A couple with a child: three people. A family: multiple persons.

Because of the current economic slump the nation is undergoing, and the housing crisis, more and more families are finding themselves without a place to live. Unfortunately, in the minds of the majority of American’s, a homeless person is thought of as a single male adult who has a drinking problem. But that "vision of homelessness" is a far cry from actual reality.

Time and time again, over the last 17 months, I’ve been saying that homeless families are the fastest growing segment of America’s homeless population. As a result, there are going to be approximately 1.35 million children who – through no fault of their own – will experience homelessness this year. With an expected 2 million additional properties facing foreclosure over the next 12 months, it is a safe bet that there will be more and more children who will face homelessness.

Despite HUD’s claim that the numbers of chronically homeless has decreased, more and more cities all across the nation are reporting an increase of homeless families. And to tell you the truth, I have a big problem with that.

I’ve always been of the mind that children are a gift; a blessing. I’ve also always been of the mind that, while it’s a good thing that we care about children in remote parts of the world, our first priority should and must be the children of our own nation. They are the future of our society. When we ignore their cries, we belittle ourselves.

Not doing whatever is necessary to help the homeless children of this nation, while we continue to pour billions of dollars annually at the federal level to other nations is unacceptable. To continue to make donations to all of the charitable organizations which feed children in other countries, while our own nation’s homeless children go hungry is morally irresponsible.

And that we are able to ignore our nation’s own children simply because we have stereotypical misconceptions about who is homeless in this nation – and why they’re homeless – shows that we are socially immature.

We want to be knows as the greatest nation in the world, yet we are behaving dishonorably by not requiring out elected leaders to do the right thing – especially with regards to our nation’s homeless children. If anything, it shows a lack of greatness.

My love for our nation is darkened by our seemingly willingness to be mediocre when it comes to our homeless, and our homeless children in particular.

How can we expect other countries to respect us as a nation when we don’t respect ourselves enough to provide adequate resources to help those who need help the most?

How can we chide other nations for "human rights" violations when we ourselves are denying our own nation’s children the basic human right to proper shelter?

We need to sit down and take a good hard look at how we are severely impairing our nation’s future by ignoring our homeless children.

What makes it worse is that we have the capacity; the ability to correct the situation. But, until we put our words into action, our nation’s homeless children will continue to pay the price for our social immaturity.

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