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What is the actual definition of homelessness? Wikipedia states that homelessness is defined, as a person who “lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence.” Sadly, for an increasing number of Americans this is true, and a “normal lifestyle” is no longer an option. Each day in the United States, at least 800,000 persons are homeless. It is atrocious that the wealthiest country on the globe has thus far been unable to prevent homelessness and poverty when it has the funds to do so. If homelessness in the U.S. is such an area of concern for social service providers, government officials, and humanity, why aren’t our politicians doing anything to fix it? For example, why don’t they stop millions of our jobs being sent out of the country? They don’t think we have a problem according to U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, who recently said that U.S. trade deficits “don’t matter.” The economy is crumbling, poverty in the U.S. is exploding and homelessness in this country continues to grow. If things are really “getting better,” as they say, than why do we have more than a million school children without homes?
Police recently discovered in Kansas City, a network of tunnels where thousands of homeless people, who are now being referred to as “tunnel people” are living underground beneath the streets and it’s not only happening in Kansas, it’s happening in all major cities including Las Vegas and New York. Tent cities are growing at a rapid rate and the numbers are at a constant rise all over the country. People and their families’ are being forced to live in their vehicles while masses are often reminded of such tragic poverty-taking place in regions of Africa or Ethiopia, and they make million dollar donations to these other countries, many often overlook the very same poverty that is taking place right here in our own nation.
The Obamas cry about all of the other “spending cuts” that are happening, but they continue to blow millions of taxpayer’s dollars on wildly extravagant parties and vacations. Since the last election, the White House has seemed to go into permanent party mode. Who’s paying for the “Memphis Soul” party, which includes big names such as Justin Timberlake, Al Green, Cyndi Lauper, Queen Latifah, and Sam Moore? Overall, we the Americans, the U.S. taxpayers will spend over a billion dollars on the Obamas this year. I wonder what all the homeless children and tunnel people that live in America will think about that.
What this poor country really needs are jobs, and unfortunately there has not been a jobs recovery in the U.S. since the recession ended. In fact, the employment crisis looks like it is starting to take another turn for the worse. The number of layoffs in March was thirty percent higher than this time a year ago. At this rate the poor people will end up in prison. Approximately twenty-five percent of the U.S. prison population is not just violent criminals. If you lose your job and get behind on your bills, such as court-related fines and fees, credit cards, or car loans you could be thrown into prison. The homeless are often victims of assault, drug and alcohol abuse, and exposure to extreme heat and cold. Also, homeless people are more likely than the general population to contract tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C, because they don’t have access to any healthcare.
For decades, cities all over the country have worked to essentially criminalize homelessness, instituting measures that outlaw holding a sign, sleeping, sitting, or lying down if you live on the street. No population has their human and civil rights so casually and routinely trampled on, as do the homeless Americans. Five of the worst given treatments to homeless people are listed below.
1.) Outlawing sitting down: People can exist in public, but sometimes the homeless make that civic rule inconvenient, like when their presence perturbs tourists.
2.) Denying people access to shelters: The Bloomberg administration tried to institute new rules that would force shelters to deny applicants who failed to prove they had no other housing options, such as friends or family.
3.) Making it illegal to give people food: Philadelphia announced a citywide ban on giving food to the hungry in public parks. The city of Orlando is committed to wiping out the scourge of public food donation. In 2010 twelve people were arrested and Orlando’s Mayor deemed the group “food terrorists.” Why is it that in certain U.S. cities feeding a pigeon is okay, but giving a homeless child a handout is a $2000 fine? Certain parts of Dallas will fine a church $2,000 for distributing food in select areas.
4.) Destroying possessions of the homeless: Police regularly conduct sweeps of homeless encampments, destroying or confiscating tents, blankets, and other private property, including medications and documents. The destruction of property caused by law enforcement raids clearly violates constitutional protections against search and seizure without due process.
5.) Kicking homeless kids out of school: Good educational opportunities are not bountiful for homeless children. For example, a homeless woman used her babysitter’s address to sign her child up for an education. She was reported, her child was kicked out of school and the babysitter who helped was kicked out of her apartment complex.
It is not uncommon for an American to look down upon a homeless person and assume the worst while being entirely ignorant of the cause of that individual’s current state. People are becoming increasingly more focused on the acquisition of material goods and wealth while becoming less focused on working with society as a whole and maintaining a sense of humanity and compassion. Common kindness and humanity has slowly been drained from our modern society, and the U.S. can be an incredibly cold and cruel place to live. Sadly, mercy and compassion are in very short supply these days.