Our nation seems to be in an endless debate about which family values are “right.”
“Every child should have two parents,” some people say. “Single parent households are ruining their children.” As if any single parent chooses to struggle to raise children on his or her own. What parent chooses to work a dead-end, night-shift job, worrying about whether or not the kids are okay at home by themselves?
And, speaking of choice: “A woman should have the right to choose to terminate her pregnancy,” some say.
Or, on the flip side: “Unborn children have the right to be born, no matter what.”
“Too many families are abusing the food stamp program!”
“We don’t offer enough benefits for families in need!”
The arguments about families go on and on. Advocacy and political groups from both sides spend millions of dollars lobbying the government, convincing voters, and cultivating sympathetic donors.
In the meantime, the actual state of families in America is getting worse. Just look at homelessness statistics. In January 2013, there was an increase in homeless families from the previous year, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. This occurred even while homelessness among individuals was going down.
Bloomberg blames it on the fact that household incomes are not keeping up with the cost of rent. The average hourly wage among renters is $14.32 while the hourly wage needed to rent an apartment at fair-market value is $18.79 (according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development).
The numbers don’t add up. Families cannot afford to buy food, pay utilities, and pay rent, so they end up on the streets.
It’s easy to view these facts through lenses fogged up by our political perspectives. If only that mother hadn’t dropped out of high school, she would be able to get a better paying job! If that deadbeat dad hadn’t dumped her for a younger woman, she wouldn’t be in this position in the first place!
Those lenses, however, won’t hide the fact that more and more of the children in our country are growing up without roofs over their heads. We can debate why this is happening until we go hoarse, but the fact remains that there are children out there with no place to call home.
The increase in homelessness among American families is an indictment of the state of our nation.
It is a wake-up call for every decent, responsible person in this country to work toward providing a better future for the next generation. If we allow our nation’s children to be raised without homes, we will create a generation of Americans who are more likely to drop out of school, get arrested, or earn wages that don’t even cover their rent.
We will create a new generation of homelessness.
If we truly value families, we should set aside our political and philosophical differences and make sure every family has a home.
That’s what I call family values.