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Homelessness is Society's Cancer

Updated on June 26, 2014

An Isolated Incident?

In 2009 I moved to Beaverton, Oregon, to begin a new teaching job. I packed up my belongings, made the 100 mile trek, unloaded it all into my new apartment, and then headed out to get acquainted with my new home city.

I remember driving around for a couple hours, taking a mental picture of the road system, memorizing the location of some stores I would need to shop at, and just collecting first impressions of Beaverton.

It was, and still is, a clean city. Obviously the city fathers believe that cleanliness is next to godliness, and they take litter seriously.

After driving for about fifteen minutes, I was struck with the fact that I had not seen any homeless people. Strange, I thought, because I came from Olympia, Washington, and the homeless there are very visible. Where could they all be? How is it possible that I have not seen one homeless person?

When I got back to my apartment I asked this question of my landlady, and to my complete shock she informed me that Beaverton does not allow homelessness.

Beaverton does not allow homelessness!

She went on to explain that a law was passed several years earlier, forbidding the homeless within city limits. The citizens had decided that homeless people were bad for business.

Bad for business!

Naively I believed this to be an isolated incident.

I was wrong.

Humanity One World
Humanity One World | Source

Not Isolated at All

Homeless legislation exists in quite a few cities across the United States. They all fall somewhere under these general guidelines: to prohibit activities such as sleeping, camping, eating, sitting, and begging in public spaces, to include criminal penalties for violation of these laws.

Typically the criminal penalties are fines; at times, they include incarceration.

So far, appeals courts have not agreed with these homeless laws. In 2006 the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in a case involving the city of Los Angeles and their criminalization of homelessness, ruled as follows: “the city could not expressly criminalize the status of homelessness by making it a crime to be homeless without violating the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, nor can it criminalize acts that are an integral aspect of that status. Because there is substantial and undisputed evidence that the number of homeless persons in Los Angeles far exceeds the number of available shelter beds at all times, Los Angeles has encroached upon Appellants” Eighth Amendment protections.”

But cities keep trying.

In 2007, Boston took action to keep loiterers, including the homeless, off the Boston Common overnight. In 2012, a federal district judge in Philadelphia ruled that laws prohibiting serving food to the homeless outdoors were unconstitutional.

In every city in America
In every city in America | Source

The Statistics

The very nature of homelessness makes it impossible to accurately assess the numbers who are homeless. The current statistics are as follows:

Number of homeless in the United States: 1,750,000

Percentage that do not get enough to eat daily: 28%

Percent of homeless with addiction problems: 66%

Percent of homeless who have been homeless for at least two years: 30%

Percent of homeless that are Veterans: 40%

Percent of homeless who are male: 44%

Percent of homeless who are female: 13%

Percent of homeless who are children: 36%

Percent of homeless who are African-American: 50%

Percent of homeless who are white: 35%

Percent of homeless who are Hispanic: 12%

What Should We Do?

I am not insensitive to those who argue that homelessness is bad for business. I understand business owners being concerned when the homeless camp out on sidewalks and make it difficult for customers to enter stores.

I also understand the health issues involved. I am sympathetic to city leaders who say that there are health concerns when the homeless are unsanitary, that public urination and defecation is a major problem. There is no doubt that it is.

But…..

How is the problem solved by issuing fines to the homeless? How is the problem solved by jailing the homeless?

I am a fairly logical person, and I simply cannot see how issuing fines will eliminate the problem. This is like telling a cancer patient to take two aspirin and get more sleep…it might alleviate the symptoms for a few hours, but the cancer still remains. This type of reactionary solution only perpetuates the problem, and I don’t know of anyone who wishes to see this problem continue.

The Cost of Homelessness

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, homeless people spent an average of four days longer per hospital visit than non-homeless people, an extra cost of approximately $2,414 per visit. The rate of psychiatric hospitalization is over 100 times higher than for non-homeless.

Homelessness both causes and is the result of serious health care issues, including addiction, psychological disorders, HIV/AIDS, and other ailments. The inability to treat normal health problems aggravates these problems, leading to more costly remedies and care.

It is a fact that the homeless spend more time in jail and prison, which obviously is an added expense at the local, state, and federal level. According to a University of Texas two-year survey of homeless individuals, each person cost the taxpayers $14,480 per year, mostly for overnight jail. A typical bed in prison will cost a state approximately $20,000 per year.

The cost of emergency shelters must also be considered when discussing the cost of homelessness. Interestingly, an emergency shelter bed funded by HUD’s Emergency Shelter Grants program is about $8,067 more than the average annual cost of a federal housing subsidy.

And finally, the homeless do not contribute to society, so we add the cost of no productivity to the total. Imagine if those 1.75 million people were productive members of society. Imagine how that would help the economy.

Who in this group will be homeless next year?
Who in this group will be homeless next year? | Source

But Rather Talking About Cost, Let’s Talk About This…..

These are human beings.

They are not statistics. They were born as you were. They had dreams as you had. They feel pain as you do. They are made of bones, muscles, ligaments, skin, and blood, as you are.

These are human beings.

Put aside the discussions about costs for a moment. Put aside the arguments about the homeless being an eyesore, and bad for business, and unsanitary, and just for one moment reach into your heart and allow your humanity to surface.

These are human beings.

Do not tell me that the most powerful nation on earth cannot provide jobs for an additional 1.75 million people.

Do not tell me that the only solution is the one that has failed miserably since day one.

And please, do not tell me that these human beings are not worth the effort.

That would simply be beneath you.

These are human beings, and as long as they are ignored….as long as they are fined and then ushered to the city limits….as long as they are looked down upon as less than human…..

Then shame on all of us.

What Is the Solution?

Stop giving aspirin to 1.75 million cancer patients.

The economic reality is that if permanent housing were provided in every major city in America, money would be saved.

The economic reality is that if the economy was healthy, and jobs made available, money would not only be saved but the economy would benefit.

The moral reality is that the supposedly greatest nation on earth, one founded on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, has failed miserably to uphold its promise.

Shame on all of us.

This problem will not magically go away by sweeping it under the rug. It is going to continue to fester and grow, and the costs will increase. It is time for proactive actions and not bandages on an open wound.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

God bless America!

It is time for us to live up to those words.

2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 2 years ago from Arizona

      Staggering statistics. Many of these homeless have gotten their due to bad luck and serious issues--of course some on their own steam so to speak. I particularly sympathize with Veterans--that makes me sad and also children going hungry. I am glad you brought this out as most of us have our heads in the sand and involved with our own problems. The statistics is what really shook me..Makes it very real.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I am shocked to see the number of homeless in the United States 1,750,000. You summarized a great deal here.

    • Trisha Roberts profile image

      Trisha Roberts 2 years ago from Rensselaer, New York

      I completely agree with many of your points and definitely feel the same way. I think it is really unfortunate how homeless people are considered more of a number rather than an actual human being. This was a very eye opener hub with a lot of great points and information. Thank you for sharing!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, although they are all sad members of this sub-group of American society, the veteran group is something every American should be ashamed of, and thank God my dad is dead so he didn't have to see what happened.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DDE, many of us who live here are shocked as well. Thank you for visiting.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Trisha. This problem will not go away simply by wishing it to....this will take a large group of caring people to force change.

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 2 years ago from On A Mountain In Puerto Rico

      Great research Bill. The numbers are staggering. I look at all the abandoned buildings and I wonder, why aren't organizations working with these and making shelters for homeless? We all better start getting a handle on it, because the economy is getting worse. For all I know, I could be one of those figures at any given time.

      Good job Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Greg, there are few of us who are safe in this economy and yes, i have often wondered by abandoned buildings are not used....this whole situation makes no sense to me.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 2 years ago from New York, New York

      Bill, what can I say, but thank you always for being the moral voice of reason here. The statistics themselves say so much and speak volumes, but it is people like you who truly do make a difference right from word, go, so again just know I thank you 100 times over.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 2 years ago

      Bill, I have to laude Philadelphia. I attended a conference there in 2009, and my hotel was about a block from a city park. There was a church between my hotel and the park. I asked about the crowd that gathered in the park every day at noon and was told that they were feeding the homeless. Trucks pulled up, and it looked like these people were having a picnic. I’ve forgotten if it is the church’s work, or how the church is involved. However, out of curiosity, I made a trip to the park during one of these picnics. These homeless people were nice and friendly, and I was able to speak with a few of them. I was even offered food, which I declined, but it was difficult because it was a delicious looking barbecue plate and you know us Southerners and our barbecue. Over in a corner was a truck where someone was handing out clothes. It was a beautiful thing, and I wish all cities would do this.

      Every morning and afternoon on my way to and from work, I pass a local Salvation Army shelter just as the people are congregating to go inside and eat a meal. Mr. B and I try to donate to the Salvation Army on a semi-regular basis. It isn’t much, but every little bit helps. I also donate a small amount of money to the local Food Bank, which reminds me that a donation is due from us right now. I keep saying “a small amount” because there are so many that we make small donations to each rather than one larger one to any particular one.

      JOBS, JOBS, JOBS -- that is the solution to many of the homeless. The tightening of our laws concerning mental illness is another solution. Many mentally ill people cannot help themselves, and in most cases, it is a violation of their civil rights to help them. So they have the freedom to be crazy!

      So here we can place the blame on both the liberals and the conservatives: the liberals for civil rights laws that prevent families and society from helping their loved ones with mental illnesses, and the conservatives for the conglomerates that send our jobs overseas. Shame on us!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine. I'm just doing what I hope most people do, and I wish I could do more.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for that, MizB. I have read about Philadelphia and I applaud them as well. This is our problem...all citizens....and yes, jobs, and yes, more social services so these people can get the medical attention they need, and the mental treatment they very much need....fining them? Please. How illogical is that?

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 2 years ago

      Bill, as usual an outstanding hub backed with facts and real information.

      I know many cities have laws on their books they don't always enforce, but may if they choose to do so. Kind of like our laws against illegal immigration.

      The homeless situation is a really sticky subject. If any city went overboard on providing a better way of life for the homeless, word would spread and they would be overrun with homeless people. I have no doubt there is a really good information pipeline among the homeless. This would be like a "relief camp" near a war zone and would soon be so overcrowed they could not handle the mob.

      The real shame is why there are so many homeless in the first place. As you point out some are homeless by choice, others due to circumstances beyond their control, and some due to mental problems.

      But this is also a matter where citizens of this country and our State and Federal governments just turn a blind eye and hope it will go away.

      We all know the homeless problem will not go away by itself and in fact will get worse unless the current economy makes a quick turn-around.

      I could ramble on about this for hours but that would not help anyone. You covered the subject nicely in your hub and there is nothing I could add other than just "Job Well Done" my friend.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, the other day my son told me he went to Panera Bread to pick up some lunch. He ordered a half-sandwich. The guy behind the counter took a pre-made sandwich from the fridge, cut it in half and threw the rest away! My son couldn't believe it, nor could I. Doesn't Panera know how many people they can feed with what they throw away? Why not donate the half sandwiches to shelters or churches? Unbelievable!

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 2 years ago

      bravewarrior - Many restaurants used to allow representatives from homeless shelters to come and pick up leftover food at closing time. Here in my town, the Health Department put a stop to this so now all this good food goes in the dumpster.

      My daughter works in a retail store that sells some grocery items. When things like Milk, Eggs, Bread, Cookies, Crackers, and candy bars reach their experation date they are also thrown in the dumpster. They are not allowed to take any of these items home or give them to anyone.

      This to me is a law that hurts more than it helps and creats millions of dollars worth of wasted food items.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Poolman, you said it...this is a sticky situation. All I know for sure is that what we are currently doing is not fixing the problem. This will take a concerted effort at all political levels to make it go away....and if I were a veteran my blood would be boiling right now. Thank you for your thoughts on this. I can always count on you to be informed and have a rational opinion on matters such as this.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is unbelievable, but I'm fairly certain it is done because of health restrictions and legislation, as silly as they may be. That's not the first time I have heard of that happening and I'm sure it won't be the last. Thanks for sharing that.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Poolman, right on as always. I know why it is done; that doesn't make it right, as you pointed out.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      what a sad statistic, and one that we ignore.. well many people ignore, not because of cold heart, but because of the severity of their plight... I once heard someone say he hates the soup kitchens because they are right there in front of him.. he prefers out of sight out of mind.. What a great hub my friend.. the stats are right in our faces

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      Excellent hub and topic, Bill. Homelessness certainly is a black blot on America. I am embarrassed in the larger cities, NY, LA, San Fran to have to step over the homeless to get down the sidewalk. I know these smaller towns and cities across America are passing legislation to ban them from their towns. Instead of fixing the problem of homelessness they just push it on to the next town. More kicking the can down the road. Yes, these are human beings, but the people creating this legislation are not thinking of them as human beings but as a problem preventing businesses from making their almighty dollar. I only wish our country could find a solution for the homeless on a large scale. We can volunteer at homeless shelters but that does not solve the problem as a whole.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Frank, these truly are the invisible people...we don't see them...too many of them...part of the scenery...and I find it profoundly sad. Thanks for taking the time to comment today.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Suzette, you might be interested to know that L.A. easily leads the nation in homeless...the numbers are staggering and very sad. I don't know what the solution is, but I know damn well what we are doing is not working and is criminal. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Excellent hub about a very real problem Bill. I read an article yesterday about one US state that were providing free apartments to the homeless, along with a case worker. They worked out it would cost around $11,000 per year per person equivalent of house payments, where it would cost $18,000 to keep them in prison or pay for other costs associated with control and moving them etc. Now I can't find the article or I would show you the link. This is an important hub though. Well done.

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      Bill, you have done an exceptional job bringing the facts to the table.

      There has always been homeless people. That is no excuse. As human beings we should take better care of our own.

      We outsourced our jobs to foreign countries, and scratch our heads when

      there are fewer jobs.

      We pay our military pennies to protect our country, and if they are killed in action, their widow and children are given 30 days to vacate the base premises.

      We live in a world of injustices.

      I have always said that they do more of an extensive background check

      and follow up checks when one adopts a shelter animal and there is no

      criteria to bringing a child into this world.

      Additionally, people are leary of hiring people on the street who are looking for work. It did not work out so well for Elizabeth Smart's family. Mr. Smart was a conscientious man giving jobs to homeless men.

      If it were an easy fix, I want to believe we would have found a way.

      Like many have commented before me, laws have been passed that food,

      which is close to expiring, cannot be given to homeless shelters. That is a growing law in many cities and states.

      We have a long way to travel before we can fix this sad state of affairs.

      You brought up a great article and you have us talking. That is the first

      step in solving any problem...talking about it.

      Thanks, Bill.

      DJ.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 2 years ago

      This is a very important topic. I believe there are humane and common sense solutions to the problem of homelessness, but like so many other problems, it's just not on the radar screen. When the richest country in the world has people huddled in doorways in the dead of winter, something is broken big time. Voted up and useful.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      John, the stats don't lie in this case. It is definitely more expensive to jail the homeless....and besides, how does jailing solve a problem that will not go away? We need forward thinkers to work on this my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DJ, that is the first step. I want people out of their comfort level talking about unpleasant things rather than sweeping them out of sight.....I'll settle for conversations right now and action soon to follow....I hope. :)

      Thanks DJ...now get back to writing.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      breakfastpop, there is no doubt that something is broken. I don't much care who is to blame for this...I just want all sides working on a solution and not fining the hungry in hopes that they will move out of town. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      Your statistics are a real eye opener. As you say, we cannot truly gage how many homeless we have in the US since they are hidden from the radar. I see them everyday walking along the sidewalks in this horrible heat. I wonder how they can survive. As my hubby and I volunteer with the homeless we see many people who just need a helping hand to get back on their feet -- it doesn't take much. Great topic and God bless you for bringing this issue to the front of reader's attention.

    • BruceDPrice profile image

      Bruce Deitrick Price 2 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va.

      Okay I'll take the other side. The word "homeless" is somewhat dishonest because not having a home is not their main problem. In reality, most homeless people are drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally damaged people. You could give them a house on the river and in a few days it would be destroyed or they would've disappeared into the woods. They don't want to be bothered with any of the normal constraints or responsibilities of life. So the question becomes, how big a right do they have to drag everyone else down? People should never forget that the homeless crisis was created in the 1980s when the New York State Hospital system ejected 100,000 people from mental hospitals. What a great idea that was. So these people were out wandering dazed and confused around Manhattan (where I lived at the time), when the week before they were deemed incapable of taking care of themselves! Apparently all this was done to make Reagan look bad. His tax policies were taking off starting about 1982 and the Democrats were eager to say, "Yeah BUT he doesn't care about homeless people."

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bruce, it's always interesting to read both sides of an issue. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I'm not here to debate with anyone. I figure they can write their own articles. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dianna, and bless you for working with these people. I know I was homeless once, and it was not a choice, and I made it because of people like you and your husband.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 2 years ago from South Africa

      I don't know why I keep on believing that the establishment of kibbutzim may be the best solution for the homeless crisis all over the world. Unfortunately many homeless people will rather be beggars than hard workers. Many also prefer to ignore shelters, due to the rules of the shelters - not allowing the use of drugs and alcohol. But still, kibbutzim may at least solve 50% of the problems.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Being homeless anywhere in the world is wrong. I will tell you that Evansville, In. a large city close to me is building shelters and homes, plus refurbishing old run down houses for the homeless. Every town could do this. I know there are drugs and alcohol to think about, people doesn't want them in their neighborhood. I don't know the answer. These people are humans, do something!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for your thoughts, Marie. All I'm sure of is that what we are doing right now is not working.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, that is certainly a step in the right direction. I think it would require supervision and counseling...constant monitoring and jobs available...but any step at this point is better than what we see now. Thanks for your humanness my friend.

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 2 years ago

      There are many things that could be done by both State and Federal Governments. We now have military installations that have been closed and abandoned that would house a huge number of homeless persons. We pay huge amounts of money to contractors to keep these facilities from just crumbling and turning to dust.

      There could be a screening process whereby those who really wanted to rise above the homeless status and once again become a productive member of society could be accepted. The wino's, drug addicts, and insane would not be part of the program.

      Many of the homeless have job skills that could be utilized by local employers on a temporary or permanent basis as needed.

      I know, stupid idea; it is probably better just to ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Kalamazoo is one of the cities across America giving FUSE (Frequent Users Systems Engagement) a try. This CSH (Corporation for Supportive Housing) program is based upon your sort of common sense approach.

      I question your statement: "And finally, the homeless do not contribute to society, so we add the cost of no productivity to the total." Some of the homeless have jobs. Some of the homeless raise children and care for infirm elderly relations. Some of the homeless do good volunteer work, create arts and crafts and poems, or pray for world peace. What are the criteria for being a contributor to society? Did my mother who radiantly loved her family and friends when her home was one third of a little room in nursing home and she was hemiplegic and brain damaged flunk being a contributor to society?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Poolman, you are right on. The costs associated with homelessness, which I mentioned, are far greater than we would incur as a society if we tried one of your ideas.....in other words, if it makes sense then don't do it. I'm shaking my head right now.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brian, all great points. The last statement about not contributing was an economic statement to try to get the right wing to buy into helping the homeless....since one major criteria always seems to be "make more money for the economy" I thought I would play to their financial interests in an attempt rally them. Foolish of me to even try.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      bill...This is one of my most sensitive areas to even attempt to discuss or offer comment.

      It took me long enough to shed my rose-colored glasses as well as contain my disgust and horror caused by this bloody gash across the face of our nation.

      I carry such guilt and feel enough shame to last forever....and I sadly believe that THIS will go on forever. Why? Well, for one thing, homelessness has existed as an egregious reality since the birth of this country. Rather than slowly disappear as we developed and grew to the (alleged) "Greatest" country in the world......this sickness has grown rapidly and become much more visible. What this should tell us loudly and clearly is that "We" as a country are SICK.

      Blind, deaf, dumb and riddled with numbness and paralysis...diseased, are we.

      This topic......there's really very little else that consumes me in such an overwhelming blanket of helplessness...as this does. I get this huge lump of dread within my chest and I've no doubt it is because the task to begin to remedy this bloody gash is an astronomical one......and I am only one small individual.....

      Up+++ Superb as always

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for creating another HOW hub, Bill. The failure to solve the problem of homelessness is a shameful situation in both the United States and Canada. We need to be reminded of the problem. Your hub does this very effectively.

    • pramodgokhale profile image

      pramodgokhale 2 years ago from Pune( India)

      Sir

      I appreciate your study and and root-cause of this wound on society.

      i am an Indian, due to globalization and liberalization of Indian economy, people are migrating big cities and we find more homeless people on footpath, they work everyday but can not buy home.

      India will have problem for future many decades.No government is interested to resolve this issue. Crime graph is bound to go up and people have to suffer.

      pramod gokhale

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 2 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Bill. Your most telling line here? 'They are human beings'. Does society care? I think so. Do the powers that be care? I think so. Unfortunately welfare and strategic planning is missing in this sector of expenditure. Money can be spent elsewhere and be appreciated more by the voters. This attitude is wrong, what is needed is housing and a great improvement in the employment situation. I will stop now before I start to ramble on.

      Graham.

    • cjhunsinger profile image

      cjhunsinger 2 years ago

      Bill

      It is difficult to see the downtrodden and homeless, as it is difficult to see a child that is spoiled because of parents who failed to instill expectations of conduct. Most of these people are homeless due to bad choices and lowered expectations of society. As a parent who fails to correct a child but gives and accommodates the narcissism of the child creates a nightmare. This, I believe, is what you are proposing, a continuation of accommodating narcissistic behavior. Please do not use the words of American freedom to promote irresponsibility, laziness and anti-social behavior. I would suggest that you take into your home as many homeless as you like, spend as much money on them as you like, as you are free to do that, but leave my wallet alone. If you want to help these people then there must be an expectation by society that such a life style is unacceptable and there is a price to pay for irresponsibility and it is not a warm fuzzy feeling. You do not reward it with platitudes and altruism's lest you encourage others to this life style..

      This is from one who lived on the streets.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Excellent work here Bill, thank you.

    • profile image

      Grey Temples 2 years ago

      In most states it is illegal to be homeless. In Florida your tents or what ever you have for a home will be torn down by police plus if people feed he homeless in Florida they will be arrested, the people who are feeding the homeless that is. The homeless have to eat at soup kitchens. However, soup kitchens are few and far between.

      Thank you Bill for posting this article to continuously let people know how bad it is for many, many people. voted up and shared

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      We usually forget until we read an article like this, and see the statistics. We have to learn to share, and to stop thinking that we are helpless to make a difference. The reality is humbling.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, there is nothing I can add to your eloquent and emotional plea. I have disgust for my country and countrymen over this issue, and over the apathy that many show. Will it change? I doubt it, but I also know that mammoth changes in society take a very long time, so I guess there is always hope, Sis.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia. There is little I can do as a writer other than raise awareness and keep the conversation going about this horrible problem.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pramod, I hear your words and I believe their reality. This will only get worse as the years go on, and that saddens me greatly.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Graham, I think you are right....and this will take a massive change in attitudes at all levels...and massive change takes decades to occur. Thank you for your thoughts.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for your opinion, cjhunsinger...I lived on the streets as well and totally disagree with you...but don't worry, your wallet is safe.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      and thank you, Eric. You are a good man.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Grey Temples, thank you for sharing the situation in Florida. I know the same is done in parts of Texas...let's hope the courts continue to strike down these laws.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dora, if we could all just find our humanness once more, maybe we could work together to lessen this horrific problem. Thank you for your thoughts.

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      Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

      Whenever I see a homeless person, I think to myself: There but for the grace of God, go I. Any of us could become homeless! We have a large wooded area here where I live, and many homeless people live there. Some are lucky enough to have a tent; others do not. They sleep in cardboard boxes or on the ground.

      Several of our churches have soup kitchens to help feed the homeless, and that helps.

      Yes, this is a real problem, but I don't see how it will improve.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't see either, Mary, but I know it will never improve if we just forget about it...thus, I keep writing about it. :) God bless you my friend.

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      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      To my shame, I don't know what the statistics for the homeless are for Britain. I suspect that they are worse than I think but I suspect they are better than the USA. I'll look it up.

      Of course we can't ignore them; they deserve the same rights as we do. There but for the grace of God....

      Hope your day's going well, bill.

      Ann

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      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      I'm astounded by the number of homeless here in the US. I akin homelessness to being unable to find a stable job, though not always at the person's fault. Maybe if there were a way to make getting a job a guaranteed thing, the number of homeless might reduce. At least they'll be able to support themselves the way everyone else is. That's just my opinion though. Thanks for sharing on this pressing issue, Bill!

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      Old Poolman 2 years ago

      We also need to keep in mind that our government sends billions if not trillions of dollars to other countries in the form of foreign aid. Gosh, if just a small percentage of this money was spent at home to help our own homeless situation it might make a difference.

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      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      If we can take strangers from other countries and set them up in housing with a check , food stamps and by some means they drive new vehicles to haul their 3+ kids; then surely an organization should be set up to take care of the homeless. Such as the old women and men; shouldn't they be in nursing homes? Children; shouldn't they be in a home being looked over. I don't like that I am made to pay for unAmericans while Americans are in need! It is just not right; we need to all start writing our representative and say what is on our minds. If we never say anything they will never do anything. Yes I knew they were pushing them out into the country were they can get no help; hoping they will just die I assume and then people like me are supposed to feel ashamed I do not like illegals? Well, excuseeeee me!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, I've been there, and it is not a fun place to be....let's hope our society figures this out soon. We all lose in this situation.

      Thank you dear friend.

      bill

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      vkwok, I'm open to ideas and suggestions, as I think everyone should be. Thanks for your thoughts.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Poolman, don't even get me started on foreign aid. I get downright irate just thinking about it. :)

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jackie, as always you raise good points. We need to take care of our own first...no debate on that point....I wonder why that is so easy for you and I to see, but others in power can't see it?

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      MG Singh 2 years ago from Singapore

      What an informative post billy. I was simply overwhelmed with these shocking details. America must look inwards and solve this problem, though I have a lurking feeling with all round debt, it may not happen

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      Old Poolman 2 years ago

      Bill, we also need to keep in mind that we now have thousands of illegal women and children to care for due to our lax border enforcement. The current estimate is next year we will see another 100,000 of these illegals enter our country.

      I guess the homeless issue will need to be handled by private charities, churches, and caring citizens because our government agencies just don't care. I wonder when we will make caring for our own citizens a priority over helping other countries that hate us?

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      MG, I have the same lurking feeling. I hope we are both wrong. Thank you, sir, and have a wonderful weekend in Singapore.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Poolman, I have come 180 degrees on this issue of illegal immigrants. I, too, am tired of helping those who hate us....it makes no sense to me at all. I know it is all tied to economics, but that does not make it easy to swallow. I doubt seriously is this issue will get better with time.

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      Rajan Singh Jolly 2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      The scourge of homelessness is shocking going by these stats Bill. And the laws that are made to keep them off the city is just turning a Nelson's eye to the problem.

      Glad you highlighted this problem and I hope this write up catches the eyes of the powers that be.

      Sharing this all over.

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      Ann1Az2 2 years ago from Orange, Texas

      The most shocking part of this is the statistics. Good grief - 40% of homeless are veterans? What does that say about how well we take care of the very people that gave us the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

      I used to work in downtown Houston. I saw the homeless every day. Most were not quite right - probably due to drugs or just being exposed to adverse weather. In Houston, that means heat and rain. It's amazing that they all disappeared when Houston sponsored a car race one year. They would have been bad for businesses in the area, I guess.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rajan, thank you. It seems most of us understand the magnitude of the problem...now we have to find a way to end it.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, what we have done to veterans in this nation is shameless.....I don't have words for it, but I'm glad my father has passed on and doesn't have to witness it.

      Thank you for your compassion.

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      Linda Rogers 2 years ago from Minnesota

      It makes you want to cry hearing these shocking statistics. Homelessness encompasses many different issues, but the way it's being dealt with is not working. How sad that those with mental illness &veteran's who have given so much, are not getting what they need. You did a great job highlighting this sad and shameless topic. I hope we as a society can work together to eliminate homelessness in a smarter and more ethical way. Sharing this important subject.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Minnetonka. I just wish I didn't have to write about this, that it wasn't even an issue to discuss...but it is...and it must be dealt with.

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      Michelle Scoggins 2 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Very engaging. I too have wondered why we dispense aspirin for cancer. However, solutions that frequently make sense are never adopted into practice. Many of our homeless are also mentally ill and that number is on the rise. When the deinstitutionalization came into effect our rate of homeless slowly started increasing. Without anywhere to legally house the mentally ill they far to often become homeless. That of course is just one aspect of the problem. I also agree that fining or jailing those that are homeless will only increase the costs to care for this population. Looking toward change and moving away from bandaids are the way to go. Voted up!!

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      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very engaging hub and quite painful to see the statistics. Every government tries to take care of the homeless by adopting welfare schemes and projects. But much, much needs to be done, not only by the governments, by social service organisations and the society as a whole.

      Thanks for bringing to attention this cold, hard fact of the society!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you mdscoggins....I don't know the answer to this problem, but I know when I'm looking at something that isn't working, so change is necessary.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you chitrangadaSharan....I really don't believe welfare is the answer...we need to address the cause and wipe that out.

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      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      SO many people slip through the cracks. I'll bet a lot of these people would be better workers and neighbors than some of the people that I know. So many people feel entitled in this day, EXCEPT the homeless. What is wrong with this?

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, it is amazing to me that cities have not come to the conclusion you just mentioned...put these people to work and we all benefit...unbelievable my friend.

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      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      I see them each day and I see that they are people not to be overlooked in their time of need. It is indeed an overwhelming problem, but how did America come to such an overwhelming problem? If, we the people, continue to go around with our eyes closed as if they are not really there ... In my heart, I believe that not one person in America, especially, should be homeless. I do not get ... not allowing homeless people to "be" in a city? It is a matter of ... unseen by choice. Sad choice by most, unfortunately.

      Blessings always

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, as long as we the people ignore it, our politicians will ignore it. It is up to us to light the fire on this problem. I hope we wake up as a society soon.

      blessings my friend

      bill

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