Monday, April 18, 2016

The War On The Homeless.

Photograph by Mary Ellen MarkThe Damm family: Crissy, 6; Jesse, 4;
their mother, Linda, 27, a former nursing-home aide;
and their stepfather, Dean, 33, an ex-trucker.

There is a war going on in America, and it is aimed at the Homeless. For Example in an October 2015 article on ThinkProgress which featured the city ordinance that tickets people for sleeping outside is being challenged by the homeless of Sarasota Florida. Also just this year, San Francisco made an active push to rid any sign of homelessness during the Super Bowl. There are reports of Los Angeles harassing the homeless by tearing down Tiny Homes that were built for them by a community group. 

The homeless have always been a sign of urban decay, however that doesn't mean cities shouldn't be showing them compassion. Approximately 16% of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2005). Research indicates that 40% of homeless men have served in the armed forces, as compared to 34% of the general adult male population (Rosenheck et al., 1996). Also 50% of the 24 cities surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2005). Studying the entire country, though, reveals that the problem is even more serious. Nationally, approximately half of all women and children experiencing homelessness are fleeing domestic violence. So as you can see there is a vast amount of issues as to why a person or even a family could be homeless. Penalizing them, only makes what is already a stressful situation, even worse for those individuals and families. 

A Homeless camp being raided by Police
Homeless Family make up about 33% of the homeless population according to the 2005 U.S. Conference of Mayors, and that number is only going to rise as economic realities start to set in because of policies that have been promoted by Republican Lead legislators, city councils, and other government bodies. There have been a number of laws put into effect that have come to bite GOP lead states in the ass. For example Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed into law, a required drug test for anyone applying for Food Stamp benefits, a limit of $25 a day for those getting cash benefits, and lets not forget the 2013 attempt of kicking 20,000 people out of the food stamp program because of a misguided attempt at reinstating a failed work requirement, and that is all from just one state. There are several states that have tried to use drug testing as a way to show that the food stamp program has failed. Only it didn't show that, in fact of the people that were drug tested Kansas only found 11 people that failed a drug test. That's after having spent $40,000 on testing 2,783 people. That's what is considered a failed policy. 

There seems to be this elitists thought process that by some how harassing the homeless, they won't want to be homeless anymore. Or maybe it's just the social embarrassment by city councils that they continue to enact policies and local laws that harm or make it harder for those that are already, or just about to be homeless. Compassion has been a rare commodity as of late, and it doesn't seem to be getting much better. Everyone seems to be focused more on self, than on others, or even giving out a helping hand would almost be two much for some it seems.

Homeless shelters are in trouble, so if you know of one, be sure to give a donation, or even volunteer at one. Because you never know when you might just be the next occupant.