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PROSECUTING POVERTY (Has America Gone Mad?)
Threatened with Arrest for Feeding the Poor
Raleigh, North Carolina closed a "soup kitchen" at a church who has fed the hungry for six years with dedication and love. Loves Wins Ministries, headed by Rev. Hugh Hollowell passed out food on the weekends in the city to hundreds of hungry people. Recently, however, the workers were met by the police who told them they could not hand out the breakfast sandwiches to the 70 people waiting or the workers would be arrested. The police instructed these charity workers to get a permit and that the permit would cost $1,600 and likely it would not even be approved. Really?
In Columbia, South Carolina, there has been a hotline established for businesses to call in a homeless person's "presence". While Columbia has an open shelter on the outskirts of town, it's homeless population is six times that of what the shelter can house. Additionally, homeless people cannot leave the shelter and head downtown because if they do, they will find a police officer in their path that will make them go back to the shelter. How does that homeless person look for work then? Not all homeless people are lazy.
Miami, Tampa, Orlando and other cities have made it virtually illegal to be homeless as well. Three charitable workers were in fact arrested in Orlando for handing out food to the homeless. As many as 50 others in different incidences in Orlando have been arrested for feeding the hungry.
Other cities including Portland, Seattle and Detroit have followed suit. Philadelphia, Houston, Dallas, Las Vegas, and New York City as well as some cities in California also have laws in place to prosecute the poor siting "quality of life" reasons and have closed soup kitchens nationwide.
Do you know of someone that has been displaced because of the economy?
Who Is Homeless?
As many as 3.5 million people in the U.S. are homeless or have had to use a homeless shelter for domestic instability or other issues. 1.37 of these are children!!
Yes, some homeless people have health issues, mental issues, and are possibly permanently disabled and cannot work. For many, they can't get assistance or it takes a red-tape bureaucratic miracle to get approved for health insurance, disability or other assistance.
Let me give you an example here:
- One person needs Cymbalta, an anti-depressant. It costs approximately $220.00 for 30 days of the lowest dose.
- They also need Januvia, a time-released diabetic medicine. This is $289.00 for a 30 day supply of 50 mg tablets.
- They also need generic Synthroid for a thyroid condition. This is $19.00 for .25 mcg of a month's supply. For these three medications alone,
- The amount is over $500.00 per month. I selected these medications because they are common prescriptions.
Blood pressure medication is another good example. Very costly. The amount of $500 for medication per month is a good amount for an apartment in most areas of the country. Healthcare factors are a big contribution to many of today's homeless people.
U. S. Veterans, unfortunately, make up a large percent of our homeless population. I will address this more later.
Regardless of the reasons for homelessness, America's poor consist of children and people of middle class standing who recently lost their home to bank foreclosure because of the economy.
Preventing the poor from eating, arresting charity workers, closing soup kitchens and banning organizations who feed the poor is not acceptable.
Regardless of ethnicity, age, health conditions, or addiction, hungry people need fed.
Reasons for Homelessness
Housing instability (economy)
Unemployement and cost of housing
Lack of education, illiteracy
Environment, either home, schooling or other
No affordable health care
Lack of education and mental stability
Hurricanes and other disasters FEMA has not helped
Lack of assistance to U. S. Veterans
No transitional programs for Veterans
Solutions For Veterans
After being a medical transcriptionist for 20 years, I developed health conditions that made the job impossible for me to continue. I went to my local vocational rehab office and asked for assistance. I thought if I could cross-train for something else, I would be able to continue in my field or a similar skill that would allow me to move around a little more than my transcription job.
I was denied assistance there and put in for disability and of course, I was denied that too. I wound up taking a job with much less pay (about $480 per month less).
I say all this, to say that people do have legitimate health issues. While I was not homeless, it could have been easy to become that way.
Likewise, our Veterans, in my opinion, do not have transitional rehabilitation. What does that mean? It means more can be done to help Veterans transit out of the military.
- Recruiters lie. They are glorified headhunters and they have a quota to meet. They get you to join the service and make tank repairs seem like the greatest job in the world. So first and foremost, before one joins, they should ask themselves, "When I get out of the service, where will I be able to use this skill?"
- The military needs to stop promoting alcohol by offering it at half the price civilians pay (and tax free).
- The Veterans Administration needs to pay for disabilities acquired in service the very month Veterans are released - not YEARS later. Further, the Veterans Administration should be done away with entirely and the disabilities acquired while in service, should be part of the out-processing of military discharges so that no Veteran has a time of unemployment. The military has access to the health record and decisions should be made upon final review of the health record and the ribbon campaigns awarded.
- One other option for military Veterans is the government making it worthwhile financially to stay in for the 20 year hitch and then be able to still obtain free medical without conversion to a non-affordable health coverage.
All of these things could be financed by the Federal Government ridding itself of the Veteran's Administration.
Loss of Dignity
In the Holocaust, Hitler's regime did a slow, torturous evacuation of the hope and health of the Jewish people, raping their joy and freedom. He literally wore them out until all hope was gone. He robbed them of their dignity until some literally went off the deep end.
Like the Trail of Tears, all hope was lost. Robbed of their culture, their homes, humanity, religious rights, and dignity, racism prevailed. They were enslaved by dictatorship, cruel and unusual and needed rescued and their dignity restored.
When one is homeless and displaced for a period of time, it would be reasonable to believe that they have lost hope - Hope they once had in humanity and hope for themselves.
Homeless people need the same kind of rescue. Their poverish state has diminished their dignity, wounded their pride and robbed them of their normal culture.
These people need understanding and assistance that leads them back to productive citizenship.
Help for the Homeless
Homeless people should have a "safe house". Not only should they be allowed, they should not be banned.
Safe houses should offer rehabilitation to get homeless people off the street and back into a productive society. I'm not talking about hand-outs, I'm talking about you do A, B & C, and we will help place recipients that achieved their goals into employment positions, working with local businesses and universities.
The following issues need addressed, not only to end homelessness, but to prevent it in the first place:
- When joining the service, make sure you apply for a position that transfers to civilian life. i.e. medical field, administrative fields, bilingual skills, etc.
- The military recruiter should help ROTC participants and other military applicants with risk of nonconversion fields such as explosives by helping them to convert the field in the civilian world - working on mines for example, and show how an extremely limited conversion field such as driving a tank may not produce civilian employment.
- Illiteracy should be addressed in school and at home while the child is still in grade school. "Every child should pass" produces an illiterate adult. In addition, illiteracy programs in the homeless shelter should be part of a goal/achievement process.
- FEMA needs to do a check and balance to ensure all natural disaster victims are actually helped.
- Domestic violence programs should be in place in homeless shelters and violence shelters so that women and children (and men are abused too) are not left homeless and abandoned by empowering the victims to find gainful employment and safely relocate.
- Efficient goals/achievement programs for drug addicts and alcoholics who want help should be offered in a way that is rewarded by temporary help. Structural programs should be put in place where the effectiveness is proven whether or not it is politically correct.
- The Federal government should do whatever it takes to assist people in hard times to keep their homes and help Americans keep gainful employment with affordable healthcare.
From what I have read, the biggest objection for homeless population in the prestigious business downtown sections of U. S. cities is public urination.
While no one wants to visualize that, address those who are in a desensitized homeless environment as indecent exposure (if port-a-johns are in place and they are not using them) and pollution. Don't arrest homeless individuals because they are homeless.
Mother Teresa ate and lodged with the poor, yet she is one of the most revered persons and recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize. Should we renounce her prize? How dare we arrest those who are serving others.
While I am not for enabling bad behavior of any kind, I do have compassion and there must be answers other than arresting those who are feeding the poor and those who are the poor.
Even for those who choose to live without a home should not be arrested. This is America. We once accused Native Americans of being savages and treated them as such because they weren't "civilized" the way the English colonies thought they should be. Because one lives in a tee pee, without electricity such as the Amish, or any other lifestyle is not for us to judge.
Does the issue of more than 3 million people in America homeless need addressed? Yes, it does, but arresting them is not the solution and kicking them while they are down is not the answer either. Visit a reservation. We've already kicked people while they were down and it isn't working. The crime is the contribution to the hopelessness of the people.
We are all perhaps, just one paycheck away from being homeless. It could happen to me and it could happen to you!
If we can prosecute people for their financial status, who will be next?
© 2013 T. Clifton