It’s getting closer to the end of the "school year."
At the collegiate level it means students are busy researching, writing and putting the finishing touch on their "term papers." It also means that those who have chosen to write about homelessness are using the Internet to help them find statistics, enumeration data, news articles – and yes, even blogs about homelessness.
Among the questions these students try to address is: "Why should we help the homeless?"
I usually interpret that question to mean "why, we as nation, should help the homeless."
To me, the answer seems quite clear: because it’s the right thing to do.
Beyond that, I’m sure that folks could think of other reasons why we should. But, all in all, the fact that the homeless are our fellow human beings and are entitled to be treated humanely by the rest of us, is reason enough.
Sadly, there are folks who think otherwise.
One search query which showed up on this blog about a week ago asked: "Should we waste money helping the homeless?"
Again – I interpreted the "we" in the question as referring to "us" as a nation.
That someone actually thought that helping the homeless as was a waste of money seemed a bit hypocritical, particularly when you consider that "we" have collectively spent hundreds of billions of dollars bailing out big business. And, despite "our" taxpayer funded bailouts, some of those corporations are still facing potential bankruptcy.
Take the nation’s automakers.
They, like quite a number of other giant corporations, have asked for federal bailout money – which means they are ultimately asking the U.S. taxpayers for help.
Yet, even though they will be receiving taxpayer funded bailout money, General Motors announced earlier this week, that it will be cutting some 21,000 jobs. In addition, they have also stated that they will be closing between 1,000 and 1,200 dealerships. Those closures will cause an estimated 137,330 dealership employees to lose their jobs as well.
Is it just me? Or does it seem to anyone else that this is akin to "biting the hand that feeds you?"
Why do I say this?
Because, the estimated 158,330 GM employees who will become part of the nation’s unemployed are taxpayers – the folks whose hard earned tax dollars are paying for the bailouts.
There is another source of tax revenue which this nation receives. Although most of the time, these folks are seldom recognized by the rest of "us" as taxpayers.
Because they just happen to be homeless.
The National Coalition for the Homeless fact sheet, Employment and Homelessness, states:
"The connection between impoverished workers and homelessness can be seen in homeless shelters, many of which house significant numbers of full-time wage earners. A survey of 23 U.S. cities found that 17.4% of homeless adults who had children were employed while 13% of single adults or unaccompanied youth were employed (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2007). In a number of cities not surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors – as well as in many states – the percentage is even higher (National Coalition for the Homeless, 1997)."
This means that approximately 1 in 5 homeless persons are wage earners – making them taxpayers.
It’s highly unlikely that the IRS differentiates between tax dollars paid by homeless folks and non-homeless folks.
So, it is quite logical to conclude that there are quite a number of homeless folks who have helped fund the multi-billion dollar bailout packages to this nation’s failing corporations. They are also helping to fund the federal stimulus package – and the President’s proposed $3.5 trillion 2010 budget, as well.
Ironic, isn’t it?
Homeless taxpayers who are helping to put this country back on track. Yet, they themselves are pretty much getting nothing in return. There is little governmental funding for programs to assist them find their way back into the mainstream society. Consequently, they are being left on the city streets of this nation.
In response to the person who asked: "Should we waste money helping the homeless?" let me say this –
Providing adequate funding to implement and maintain programs which can effectively help our nation’s homeless get off the streets and into stable housing isn’t a waste of money – it’s an investment in the future of our nation.
Think of it as a bailout for American taxpayers – both, homeless and non-homeless.