for hungry families and individuals, winter can be one of the toughest times of the year. thousands of people end up having to choose between paying their heating bill and putting food on the table. it's a choice too many had to make in 2014. heat or eat...tough choice. nationally, a very hard to fathom figure of 46.5 million americans rely on food banks to get the nutrition they need to stay healthy and well fed. we all should be aware that keeping hunger in check and hopefully reducing it to near zero
is a critical first step in the true success of any community. almost overnight, too many people went from having plenty of money to worrying about what to feed their family the next day. i hope that in 2015 we get nearer the ultimate goal of having fewer and fewer families making the choice between food for their children and paying the utility or rent bills. it can be a heart wrenching decision that no mother or father should ever face.
for those experiencing homelessness, 2014 was a difficult year. across america the winter of 2014 was a cold and brutal one. it complicated the survival of the homeless in cities across the country. many died, some of them children. missions and shelters saw record numbers of people come in from the cold to find warmth and survival. it seemed to take everyone by surprise during a year when many cities and homeless agencies were reporting significant progress in reducing homelessness. when school started this year, another surprise was waiting. an incredible number of homeless students were reported. as winter approached cities such as washington dc, san francisco, new york, houston and others realized that after having a year to prepare, they weren't ready for another winter and the number of homeless that they were expecting to seek shelter and services, particularly the number of families. our agencies continued to express their belief that progress was being made in reducing homelessness. hud and usich continued to push their free housing with no strings attached program even as the number of homeless children and families continued to spiral upward. the obama central planners continued to push their "end chronic homeless among vets by the end of 2015" political extravaganza even as 53,000 homeless people were preparing for another winter in washingon d.c, just blocks from the white house. cities whole heartedly endorcing free housing with no strings attached, such as san diego, continued to declare that it is the answer to ending homelessness, even as their numbers continued to increase ten years after they initiated their program and plan.
it is a time for resolutions and promises. and i'm sure we will hear them all in the coming days. new promises, new plans, new programs....same results, or lack of. i think now, at the beginning of a new year we should inject something we don't ususally do in our resolutions and plans concerning the homeless. i think we should insert the truth and some hope. maybe now, at the beginning of 2015 we should just be quiet. maybe we should just be humble and perhaps embarrassed. maybe we should quietly apologize to the homeless and just admit we failed them in 2014. instead of promises that won't be kept and plans that won't be completed, we should just tell them quietly that we know we didn't do enough in 2014. this year we tell them that we don't know what 2015 will bring, but it probably won't bring the end to homelessness. we don't know when that will happen, but in the meantime we will house, re-employ and assist as many of them as we can with the money we have available. i think the truth in 2015 would be more valuable to the homeless than all the promises, plans and false hope that we have given them in the past. this year instead of the moral outrage, let's give them the moral elevation of the truth.
see you around town