the white house, led by ms. obama, toured the country and you would almost think she herself came up with the idea to house chronically homeless veterans. mayors across the country sprang into action and jumped on the wagon to house all chronically homeless veterans by the end of 2015. the money vault was opened up and hundreds of millions of dollars were poured into various cities to house less than 1% of the homeless population.
here is where it ends though. the election year is over. a new house of representatives and a new senate have moved into washington. ms. obama has been silent on housing veterans as of late. not one city has ended chronic homelessness among veterans or any other segment of the homeless population. not one. mayors across america have shifted their focus to other issues now. winter has set in and the reality of the homeless situation across america is seen in every news feed on every service. the illusion is over. child homelessness has skyrocketed, the number of homeless families has reached record numbers, missions and shelters who just a few short months ago were the subject of budget cuts and funding withdrawal are now the only thing standing between the homeless and death during subfreezing weather. most cities are reporting their missions and shelters are over capacity. even cities like salt lake city, phoenix, new orleans and others who were the poster cities this spring and summer for ending chronic homelessness have somehow either found new homeless people, or underestimated the number they had to begin with. or maybe....just maybe it was just the fact that despite the headlines, adulations and patting on the backs of agencies in these cities homelessness wasn't being reduced to begin with. the script changed maybe?
in the end this is our fault. we watched this happen and knew from the beginning it wasn't true. we knew it was a misrepresentation of the facts and that very, very few cities had actually reduced homelessness, much less ended it. anyone involved in dealing with the homeless knew the reality of the situation. the numbers, the people, the facts didn't match the headlines. there was no magic. there was no happy ending. there was ending to anything. it still continues. the homeless are still with us. children are still dying. homeless families in new york, washington dc, san diego, san francisco, nashville, charlotte, virginia still have no shelter this winter. men and women are still freezing to death. this is our fault. we chose to passively participate in it.
if we expect a more productive and successful approach and a more postive result in fighting and reducing homelessness, we have to demand the truth. we have to demand results for the actions, statements and promises by homeless agencies. we have to demand honesty and something akin to virtue. we have to ask ourselves if we're satisfied with momentary satisfaction from reading a feel good article while the homeless still die on the street or if we're not going accept anything short of housing the homeless in large numbers. we certainly spend enough money to do just that. we certainly have enough agencies to do just that. we certainly have enough of the golden egg of the homeless agencies....data....to do just that. can we just sit idly by and smile while homeless agencies report there is no problem while 13 children die each nite on the streets of america? can we continue to nod our heads in agreement when hud and usic declare they have reduced homelessness while missions and shelters are seeing record numbers pour in their doors? can we accept the statements of politicians that say we've found the answer to homelessness in free housing when we have no idea how we're going to pay for it?
yes...it is our fault. we fail to demand anything of the homeless agencies. we fail to ask for quantative results. we fail to ask for an accounting or a return on the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars. we excuse ideological rigidity and blame shifting. we get sidetracked by irrelevant issues such as a homeless bill of rights, whether or not to openly feed the homeless, boycotts, homeless camps and other things while the homeless continue to struggle for simple survival. this is not a call for unprincipled finger pointing. this is not a call for a condemnation of homeless agencies or the people who genuinely strive to end homelessness. this is simply a call for a higher standard than we displayed in the last forty years. this is simply a call for honesty among our homeless agencies and politicians. this is simply a plea for the homeless.
we are still faced with a daunting challenge. we are still faced with the same problems we faced forty years ago. the homeless are still faced with those problems also. let's at least give them the truth and a higher standard of operation. let's at least give them a chance.
see you around town