A Cash Strapped Society

Posted: April 14, 2009 in Bureauacracy, Children, Family, Government, Homeless Shelters, Homelessness, Politics, Stupidity

The issue of homelessness has been getting a lot of media exposure over the last few months. More and more, these news reports are spotlighting "average" American’s who have become victims to the nation’s economic struggles – and who have subsequently found themselves homeless.

Despite a decrease in the numbers of chronic homeless, the media has been pointing to an overall increase of homeless nationwide. Yet, many folks do not realize that this increase has been occurring steadily over the last decade or so.  

The increase is due to a number of factors: a decline in the number of affordable housing units; a federal minimum wage which has not kept up with the rising cost of consumer goods and services; and a lack of both private and government funding with which to provide assistive services to the homeless.

Most homeless support services agencies are so cash strapped that they are not able to provide more than the absolute basic services: a meal and a bed. Some have reached the point where they are in danger of having to shut their doors permanently.

This is why it bothers me when I read a news article like one in the San Bernadino County Sun: Foundation for homeless burglarized on Easter.

It seems that persons unknown broke into the Time for Change Foundation office and made off with about $15,000 in computer equipment and other items.

The foundation operates two shelters in the area which provide services to homeless women and children. This year, due to the economic recession, they have seen a jump of about 36 percent of clients seeking shelter.

With its funding already strained to the limits, this loss will only add to its financial stresses.

Foundation Director Kim Carter said,

"My clients are here today and they’re just devastated. They’re really afraid that I may not be able to recover from this."

On top of that, she received additional bad news: her insurance company will not cover the cost of replacing the stolen items.

What disturbs me about this story is that funding for these types of organizations has never been a government priority. What little subsidizing they receive is piece meal.

Most times, government officials will use a variation on the standard "… we don’t have enough in the budget" as a way of justifying their lack of providing funding. Yet, they seem to always find funding for programs which do little or nothing to help the average everyday citizen.

For example –

At the federal level, funding to help the nation’s homeless has never been substantial enough to provide remedial services. The little which is appropriated in the Federal budget is spread thinly among the thousands of homeless support services providers across the country. Consequently, HSS agencies are seldom able to provide any services of actual substance. The result is that those who do find themselves homeless remain so for extended periods of time.

In contrast, the Federal budget never seems to be lacking when it comes to providing funding for agencies like NASA. This year, they will receive $18.1 billion in taxpayer dollars.

Of that amount they will spend:

  • $1.3 billion to explore Mars and other destinations in the solar system.
  • $1 billion for the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, a new piloted spacecraft that will allow astronauts to land anywhere on the Moon, support a lunar outpost, and eventually support human expeditions to Mars.
  • $1 billion for the Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle, a new rocket that will launch Orion.

They are also spending taxpayer’s money looking for the remnants of a "hypothetical world" named Theia.

Rather than spending money searching for "hypothetical worlds," perhaps our government should be searching "closer to home" and look for ways of helping our nation’s homeless by providing increased funding for organizations like the Time for Change Foundation.

To me that would be a more responsible way of spending American taxpayer dollars – especially now with everyone being as cash strapped as they are.

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