“Homeless in America: Homeless but not Hopeless”

Most people just don’t realize how lucky they are and just how good they have it. They have jobs, food to eat when they’re hungry, appropriate clothes to wear for whatever weather conditions, and most importantly they have a roof over their heads. They are living the American Dream living the American Dream.

These fortunate people go about their daily lives never realizing that in the center of that large clump of overgrown Honeysuckle bushes alongside the freeway off ramp, under the bridge they cross over each morning on their way to work, and in the rear of that old station wagon parked along the roadside near the river, there are people living in

Hidden homeless camp

makeshift shelters because they have no where else to go. Individuals and families less fortunate than ourselves, some suffer from varying degrees of mental illness, drug addiction or alcoholism, but with today’s sagging economy a growing percentage of the homeless are people who have lost their jobs and are unable to find work, people whose unemployment has run out, who have eventually lost their homes to foreclosure.  These are America’s homeless.

And their numbers continue to grow. Estimates range from 1.6 to 3.5 million depending on the time of year. It’s nearly impossible to know the exact number of homeless because there is no single method that can guarantee that they are all accounted for. Numbers are generated by the Center on Homelessness and Poverty, who survey assistance programs and providers across the country such as day shelters, emergency homeless shelters, halfway houses, rescue missions, rehabs and rooming houses. Since not all homeless people utilize available service providers, the actual numbers of people experiencing homelessness are likely to be on the higher side. These estimates also don’t take into account temporary or makeshift camps hidden among the trees and bushes along freeway corridors, off and on ramps and remote highways, or larger unauthorized homeless camps that are springing up across the country. Like the homeless tent community in Colorado Springs with the large sign posted out front that reads ‘Welcome To Obamaville: Colorado’s Fastest growing Community.”

Obamaville indeed. Seems there’s tent         homeless but I find it equally as sad that the blame is being placed on President Obama. Mr. Obama inherited the current budget problem, he didn’t create it!  This economic slump  was George W’s parting gift to America after his eight years in the White House. Most people don’t realize that the U.S. went from a budget surplus of over $200 billion dollars in Clinton’s final year as president, to two terms of deficit spending under Bush.The national debt under George W. nearly doubled and the income gap became the widest in history. The great divide between rich and poor was already worlds apart, and Bush and his right wing cronies managed to widen it even further.  It’s foolish to believe that today’s dire economy and unemployment is not fallout from the Bush Era. Simply foolish.

Pictures I’ve seen of some of these camps are quite disheartening. Some look like scenes out of a third world country. They remind me of the encampments described by John Steinbeck in “Grapes of Wrath” people living in tents and makeshift lean-to’s, families with small children with nowhere left to go, huddled under a canvas tarp in a rainstorm, people standing in long lines for hours to get food for themselves and their families. What the hell is wrong with this picture?

Most of these people are not here by choice. They simply can’t afford an apartment or house, and many times assistance programs are stretched thin and there is no available aid or shelter. Then, to add insult to injury, the authorities step in to clear the land and not only force the homeless off the premises but actually destroy their tents and shelters. In one video Police can be seen using shears to cut through tents while outraged homeless are held at bay and told that it is being done for their safety. What bull shit!

Is this really America? We can invest $700 billion to bail out the banking industry, $17.4 billion to bail out General Motors and Chrysler! We spend nearly $700 billion annually for our defense budget, $18 billion so NASA can “expand our horizons and feed our curiosity, while learning and attempting to answer the big questions about ourselves and the cosmos.” Please! Is space exploration really necessary? Talk of space stations and colonization baffles me! Our national debt is spiraling out of control! Let’s learn to conquer our own space before we even consider conquering outer space! It’s time for America to bail out the homeless.

America is broke and needs fixing. The homeless problem will not simply disappear or fix itself, and can no longer be ignored.  Everyday it continues to get worse. Legislators need to forget the ‘blame game’ and work together to find solutions to our budget woes and the growing number of homeless.

Homeless Camp in St. Louis

It’s been said that there are countless people who are just a paycheck or two away from becoming homeless. Most of the homeless are people just like you and I who have caught a bad break or two. They deserve better. They are working to improve their situation.   They may be homeless, but they are not hopeless, at least not yet…

Just Saying…

JS

 

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