Morally Responsible

Posted: January 14, 2009 in Bureauacracy, Homeless Shelters, Homelessness, Housing, Money

By now most American’s have probably come to terms with the reality that the U.S. economy is more likely to get worse before it gets better. Even President-Elect Obama has cautioned folks about expecting the economy to make a rebound anytime soon. Subsequently, anyone who is looking forward for a quick turn around will just have to keep looking forward.  

The two questions which go through my mind about it all are:

  1. How many more American’s will become homeless?
  2. How long before we admit that we’re not doing enough to address this issue?

Yesterday, the National Alliance to End Homelessness issued a report stating that there had been a decrease in homelessness from 2005 through 2007. Although, it goes into some detail, it is – in my opinion – nothing more than a rehash of HUD’s official press release in July 2008. As a result I, for one, do not intend to applaud.

As the saying goes: That was then, this is now. As such, it is the "now" we need to be focusing on. And the "now" is far from being a "success story."

For the majority of homeless support services organizations and agencies, that the number of homeless may have been reduced back then does little or nothing to help them in the here and now.

Many of these organizations have seen their funding being cut back. All the while the numbers of folks seeking their assistance has risen dramatically – especially among families. So, to me it doesn’t make sense to cut funding to these agencies when there is a greater need of their services.

It’s for this reason that headlines, such as the one from MSNBC, Neighborhood Protests Proposed Homeless Shelter, are so disappointing to me.

The irony is that most folks agree that "something needs to be done about the homeless" in their community. Yet, no one seems to be willing to have a homeless shelter in their neighborhood. In fact, now that I think about it, I don’t recall ever having read an article which mentions folks embracing the idea of helping the homeless by allowing a shelter to be built in their neighborhood – although, they don’t seem to mind if it’s placed in someone else’s.

But is the building of additional homeless shelters actually a solution? Or, is it nothing more than a temporary fix?

I’ll admit there is definitely a need for additional shelter beds all across the nation. There are far too many American’s who are forced to sleep on the streets of our nation’s cities. Yet, would increasing the number of beds reduce the numbers of homeless? Personally, I do not believe they would.

The National Coalition for the Homeless fact sheet, Why Are People Homeless? makes this opening statement,

"Two trends are largely responsible for the rise in homelessness over the past 20-25 years: a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty."

This being the case, it is reasonable to conclude that the only effective manner of reducing the homeless in any community is to get those folks back into permanent housing. At the very least, even transitional housing would have a better chance of reducing homelessness than simply building more homeless shelters.

Not only would it be a more effective manner of reducing homelessness, but it would be the most fiscally responsible solution as well. In addition, it would be the morally responsible approach to helping our nation’s homeless.

And, shouldn’t that be our goal: to be a morally responsible nation?

  1. Skye says:

    It’s always the way, isn’t it? Let “someone else” do it.

  2. Paul Squires says:

    That seems perfectly reasonable to me. And speaking of being morally responsible, thanks so much, Michael for alerting me to the plagiarist. I have no idea why people do this, it seems so empty and pointless. I will go over right now and blast them. Thank you, you are obviously more than morally responsible, you are a decent and generous human.

  3. AnAmerican says:

    As the numbers of our homeless Americans increase,we all should look into our hearts and realize that our best interests as a nation reside in our empathy for all Americans who are in need of basic food ,shelter and programs that offer a helping hand out of homelessness. Just one kind act can make a difference for someone in need and it sets an example for others to reach out to those less fortunate….and so the cycle may continue.
    An integral part of addressing homelessness is exposure & education regarding the widespread prevalence of this social problem in our country. Your space here reminds us that homelessness is a national concern that needs top billing in order to assure that we address ways to help our homeless citizens…and in turn refocus the direction of our moral obligations.
    Thank you!

  4. Wayne says:

    Thank you, Michael.

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