HUD’s Smoke And Mirrors

Posted: November 17, 2008 in Bureauacracy, Government, Homelessness, Politics

I haven’t posted anything over the last several days. I have however been keeping up with the regular news alerts I receive in the blog’s inbox via email. When it comes to what is occurring with homelessness, the headlines are rather bleak. Nor does it seem as though there’s any relief in sight anytime in the near future.  

Despite the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) press release this past July claiming that there has been a decrease in homelessness, the reality is that most cities are reporting the opposite: there had been an increase. For example –

Fox 13 in Utah had this to say in their news report: Homelessness, Drugs Creates Vicious Cycle for Teen

"The number of homeless people in Utah has increased over 100 percent since last year, and their ages are also getting younger."

Quite literally, the number of Utahan’s who are homeless has doubled in just one year’s time. Since Utah – like most communities throughout the United States – does not have an abundance of available shelter beds, there are quite a number of folks who must go without a roof over their heads each night.

Another city reporting an increase in homeless is Baltimore.

According to a recent Baltimore Sun article, Shelter is ‘always full’

"Even with added space, the county can’t keep pace with growing homelessness"

As it turns out, the county’s main homeless shelter has been relocated and is now at a newer and larger location. However, even with the additional numbers of beds they cannot keep up with the steady increase of persons seeking emergency shelter.

A news report from NBC 13 in Alabama had this headline: New study says Alabama homeless numbers increasing.

What was alarming to me from that news report had to do with the types of persons who were becoming homeless. Despite most folks believing that the majority of homeless persons are drunks, drug addicts or derelicts, the news report stated that there had been a 55 percent increase in family homelessness between 2007 and 2008. Single mothers with dependant children accounted for 66 percent of those homeless families.

In Tulsa, KTUL TV-8’s report, Study: Economy Forcing More Into Homelessness, said,

"A recent survey indicates the down economy is pushing more and more Tulsans into homelessness… Locally, women with children accounted for 72-percent of the families served by the John 3:16 Mission…"

Houston’s Fox 26 news report, Houston ‘Sleepout’ Raises Money for Homelessness, said:

"There are an estimated 12,000 homeless people in the Houston area, and the crisis is getting worse, according to SEARCH Homeless Services."

I noted the phrase "… and the crisis is getting worse" straightaway.

These are just a handful sampling of the many news reports which clearly contradict HUD’s claims of having reduced by 15 percent homelessness nationwide. It seems that not a day goes by when the blog’s inbox doesn’t have at least one or two news articles which speaks of the overall increase in homelessness. In fact, I can only recall two or three instances where some community’s news media has reported a decrease in homelessness.

The reality is this: homelessness is on the rise all across the nation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know this to be true. Yet, HUD continues to hold to its assertions of having made headway at reducing the numbers of homeless on the streets of our communities. And, I have to ask why. What is to be gained by this charade of smoke and mirrors?

Call me simple minded, but it seems to me that the necessary first step for remedying homelessness, is to admit that a crisis does indeed exist. By denying that there is an overall increase in homelessness, HUD is all but eliminating the need to effectively address the issue; they are reducing the importance of adequately funding the programs necessary to help folks get off the streets and into stable housing.

While I applaud HUD’s efforts of having reduced chronic homelessness by 32,000 over a two year period, that number is nothing more than a drop in the bucket when compared to the overall number of 3.5 million people who will have experienced homelessness this year. And, when you take into consideration that the chronic homeless represent only about 10 percent of the overall homeless population; and that the numbers of non-chronic homeless persons has increased, I would venture to state, that HUD hasn’t done anything of any actual significance at reducing homelessness. If anything, they’re operating in deficit mode.

It isn’t noteworthy if you take one homeless person off the streets when three or four other people become homeless in the meanwhile. It then becomes a "take one step forward, two steps back" situation. It certainly isn’t something that would warrant patting oneself on the back and issuing a press release laying claims of successfully making headway at reducing homelessness – which is exactly what HUD did this past July. What HUD should have done was hang its collective head in shame and admit that they have been completely ineffectual at helping this nation’s homeless.

President-elect Obama has promised to do everything possible to help the middle class of America. The sad part is that unless something is done straightaway to stem the tide of folks who are becoming homeless, there may be no middle class left to help.

  1. AnAmerican says:

    “President-elect Obama has promised to do everything possible to help the middle class of America. The sad part is that unless something is done straightaway to stem the tide of folks who are becoming homeless, there may be no middle class left to help.”

    I have seen nothing from the government that even admits this is an issue that needs addressing. The rise in homelessness in middle class America does exsist and will continue to rise until we have stability of the economy. As a tax payer who does have a job I would much rather spend my taxes to promote the welfare of homeless Americans rather than bailing out corporations who were financially irresponsible.

    It is also morally wrong for taxpayers to support federal programs that fail to focus on the true core mission for which they have been established or falsify numbers to veil the truth. I have heard of NO federal employees who have lost jobs, yet employees in the private sector are enduring incredible hardships. What’s wrong with this picture?

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