A Stitch In Time…

Posted: February 7, 2009 in Bureauacracy, Family, Government, Homeless Shelters, Homelessness, Money, Morality, Politics

Okay. I’ll admit it. Sometimes I’m not the brightest bulb in the chandelier – which means that sometimes I’m slow on the uptake.

For example –

I have a zip-up lightweight polar fleece jacket.  

A couple of days ago I noticed that there were a couple of threads near the bottom of the zipper which had somehow worked themselves loose. My first thought was that I would need to get a needle and thread to mend it before it came undone completely. At the same time, from somewhere in the recesses of my mind came the phrase: "A stitch in time, saves nine."

Suddenly… wham! There was a flash of understanding and it finally occurred to me what the phrase meant. It was definitely a "DUH!" moment, one which made me feel like slapping myself on the forehead with the heel of my palm.

Of course, I was pleased with myself for finally figuring out what the phrase meant. I was about to give myself a pat on the back when another thought popped into my head: "Yeah. If I’m so clever, then how come it took me so long to understand its meaning?"

Sigh.

The thing about that phrase is that it brought two others to mind: "Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today" and "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Over the last three decades, the numbers of families which have become homeless has increased almost exponentially. Families now represent nearly 40 percent of the nation’s homeless population. However, it hasn’t been until quite recently that it has been receiving more media coverage than ever before. But I have to wonder if it would be getting any notice at all if the economy weren’t in as bad a shape as it is.

We hear about it everyday: Homes being foreclosed in record numbers; tens of thousands of jobs being cut at a time; nationwide companies going out of business.

The result is that folks are finding themselves homeless and seeking assistance from local area shelter systems. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a noticeable increase of homeless support services. In fact, in some areas, services have been cut back due to inadequate funding. Some shelters have actually been forced to close their doors permanently. Consequently, folks are being turned away.

To make matters worse, as local governments scale back on their budgets, it is the "non-essential" programs which find their funding reduced. And guess what? In so many communities, homeless support organizations do not rank high on the list of programs which are considered essential by local leaders. In anything, these organizations generally get "left over" funding – which is political speak for: "If we have any money left over, then we’ll consider how much of that we want to allocate toward helping the homeless."

There is an absurdity to that type of reasoning – particularly during these tough economic times, when more and more Americans are finding themselves in need of emergency homeless services. To further reduce the already miniscule funding these agencies receive is irresponsibility of the worst kind.

This "nickel and dime" method of addressing homeless in our communities will, in the end, cost us more – not only fiscally, but in terms of human suffering.

Isn’t it peculiar how politicians are clever enough to raise funds to run their campaigns? Yet, once in office, they don’t seem to be as adept at finding ways of adequately funding programs to assist those in our communities who need it the most.

But, it isn’t just the politicians. The rest of us must also be willing to shoulder some of the burden.

I realize that times are economically tough for everyone.

So many folks are only one or two paychecks away from homelessness. Some of those folks are our family; our friends; our co-workers; fellow parishioners. If perchance they find themselves homeless, how will it make us feel knowing that there aren’t enough homeless support resources available to help them?

Even worse – what if we are the ones who find ourselves at the door of the local area homeless shelter and are turned away?

Wouldn’t it be nice if those agencies had been properly funded in the first place?

The National Alliance to End Homeless projects that within the next two years there will be an additional 1.5 million Americans who will become homeless due to the current economic crisis.

A stitch in time may indeed save nine. Sadly, when it comes to homeless support services in this nation no one seems to have heeded those words.

Now, the lives of so many of our fellow Americans are unraveling because we weren’t astute enough to consider the consequences of thinking of homeless support services as being non-essential.

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