He Who Lieth, Frieth

Posted: October 8, 2008 in Bureauacracy, Children, Homelessness, Housing, Morality

In late July of this year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a press release making claims that the numbers of homeless in the U.S. had been reduced by 32,000 persons. The media went wild with reporting the "good" news. Everyone else applauded and patted HUD on the back for their efforts.  

Me? I was skeptical because I knew that HUD had changed its method of counting the homeless – and all to make themselves out to have really done something of actual significance in reducing the numbers of homeless. Sadly, none of the homeless folks who weren’t counted because of HUD’s "new" method of enumerating were any less homeless.

Another reason I was skeptical is because I could see the numbers of homeless in my small community increasing. Subsequently I had little faith in the HUD’s press release being an actual representation of reality. And over the past couple of months my lack of belief that HUD has not done anything noteworthy, with regards to ending homelessness in our nation, has only continued to grow as I’ve read news article after news article about the rising numbers of homeless in community after community.

For example –

A couple of days ago I came across this UPI article: Massachusetts homelessness at record high. For its opening lines it said this,

Homelessness in Massachusetts is at an all-time high and is likely to continue to rise because of surging home foreclosures, advocates for the homeless say.

Services providers say homeless shelters across the state are filled to capacity and that 574 Massachusetts families are being housed in hotels and motels, The Boston Globe reported Monday.

That’s an increase from the 27 families housed in motels at this time last year, the newspaper said, adding that an additional spike in homelessness is expected as winter approaches.

That would mean that in one year’s time there have been 547 additional families who have become homeless. And, if we use the minimum number of two persons per family, that’s 1,094 additional homeless people compared to 54 homeless people the previous year – a total increase of over two thousand percent! That number sure out outweighs HUD’s claim of a decrease of only 15 percent in homelessness.

The reality is this: HUD has skewed the numbers by changing their enumeration methodology. They’ve made it seem as though there are less numbers of homeless than there really are. Then by taking the numbers of homeless who have been helped off of the streets and compared it to their homeless "count" they’ve made it seem that there has been this great surge in the helping of the homeless. But the numbers are bogus. And, the American public fell for it hook, line and sinker.

Shame on us for taking the word of this specific government bureaucracy at face value – particularly with all of the bad press and controversy they’d been receiving with regards to the housing crisis. Didn’t it occur to us that they were blowing their own horn? Didn’t it occur to us that they would do whatever was expedient to make themselves look good in the eyes of the American public, especially considering their recent bad "track record"?

As far as I’m concerned all HUD has actually done is manipulate the truth in such a way as to present the American public with a fairy tale.

The problem is that homelessness is not a fairy tale. For millions of Americans, homelessness is a reality – with families which have dependant children being the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.

Approximately 1.35 million children will experience homelessness this year. Nearly half of them will be under the age of 5. That is the reality.

And all the while, HUD is bragging about having helped 32,000 chronically homeless adults into supportive housing. Yet, they seemed to have forgotten all about this nation’s homeless children.


Because HUD considers chronically homeless adults to be the ones who are most "at risk" – although they never quite provide a definitive answer as to what they mean by "at risk."

Maybe it’s just my sense of what is right and wrong, but it seems to me that needs of this nation’s homeless children trump everything else. And to my mind, this seems to indicate that there is an enormous disconnect between HUD’s priorities and the reality of what 1 million plus homeless children will endure living life on the streets.

But saddest of all is that we, the American pubic, are not completely outraged by HUD’s lack of providing any types of programs or funding to help get homeless families with dependant children back into housing.

How many homeless children will there need to be before we raise our voice in disgust at HUD’s seemingly disregard to the suffering to our nation’s homeless children?

As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to HUD’s claims of their having had a significant impact in reducing the numbers of homeless, I can only quote a friend of mine: "He who lieth, frieth"

  1. AnAmerican says:

    Is there anyone out there that actually believes that government agencies have the best interest of any Americans at the core of their mission? Until we have accountabilty to rebuild trust for government agencies we will never make gains to solve this problem….and when the numbers are padded to suggest they are in fact doing a great job why should they strive to improve services?
    I say..let HUD frieth and let’s get some new HUD players who aren’t burnt on their lies!

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