Pause and Remember the Homeless

As you snuggle and play with your youngsters around the Christmas tree this year, remember the children who are less fortunate or, worse, are among the 3 million Americans who are homeless.

There are as many as 200,000 homeless children in our country on any given day and as many as 1.35 each year. Every minute a child in America dies as a result of poverty in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The US has the distinction of having the highest rate of poverty in the world.

How many people will hear that statistic and instead of feeling pity or sorrow or be spurred into action will just say “well it's their parents fault?” Their parents are drug users or alcoholics or too lazy to work. Isn't the government is supposed to care for “those people.”

Any way you look at this situation, it's ironic this year in particular. We've come through an onslaught of foreclosures (including renters & owners), barely escaped a second depression and massive lay-offs and company closings which resulted in six million jobs lost. Everyone but the extremely rich is one illness, accident or a paycheck away from living on the street. There are fewer low-cost rentals and, according to reports, it requires more than minimum wage to afford even a one bedroom apartment.

Every minute a child in America dies as a result of poverty in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. 

The United States is embattled in two wars and there are 200,000 homeless veterans on any given day and 400,000 who will be homeless at some point this year. According to a US Mayors (.org) report, “veterans are slightly over-represented among the homeless population when compared to their prevalence (11.2%) in the overall population.”

It's hard to hear those who are crying for help over the loud cries of the more fortunate about SOCIALISM. We are not responsible to help those seven million households who are living below the poverty line, the homeless, or the uninsured.

Does this remind anyone else of “The Christmas Carol?” We just passed the 166th anniversary of the Dickens classic which was first published on December 19, 1843. The tale has been viewed as “an indictment of 19th century industrial capitalism and has been credited with returning the holiday to one of merriment and festivity.”*

In the story, after he was told that many of the poor would rather die than live in the poor houses, Scrooge replied “let them be on with it then and decrease the surplus population.”

Sounds a lot like America today.

Our homeless should not be ignored, herded up like cattle by police nor demonized by those who feel they brought it upon themselves. Things do happen that are beyond our control. In 2008, 15 percent of our homeless were victims of domestic violence. Did they ask for it?

This December 21, the longest day of the year, we honor the 19th Homeless Persons' Memorial Day.

Remember those who have died needlessly. Look at yourself and, in the new year, resolve to at least have compassion for those who are struggling. Put aside all this partisan bickering and start doing what is right.

  • Healthcare is a human right
  • Housing is a human right
  • Physical safety is a human right
  • Remember our neighbors and friends who have died without homes
  • Remember why they died

The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) has sponsored National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day since 1990. This year, they are joined by National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC).

Among the Internet-based organizations honoring the event are Change.org and Bloggers Unite National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day.

Homeless man beside Ohio River in Cincinnati.
Homeless man beside Ohio River in Cincinnati.

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