Give a person a real home – a studio apartment would suffice – with regular supportive services, and you have ended homelessness, at least for that one person. Clearly, an apartment is way better than a shelter bed.
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Cities throughout California are seeing more tents on the sidewalk, sleeping bags in their parks, and bodies of sleeping people sprawled inside of business vestibules. They are clear signs that visible homelessness is increasing at an alarming rate.
Four years after my homeless count blog post, sadly, we are still counting individuals and families living out on the streets that have fallen through the cracks of society.
What if each of these super-rich families tithe 10% of their wealth for one year to build homes for people who are homeless? That amount would be $900 billion, far more than what the federal government invests. If one affordable housing unit costs $300,000, this dollar amount would be able to build 3 million homes.
The issues that today’s mayors face do not reflect fictional television. Poverty and homelessness are real situations, which families and adults in every U.S. city experience on a daily basis.
Over a million homeless children in the U.S. (and countless who have not been included in homeless counts) continue to experience “hard-knock” lives. They don’t need a billionaire, like Oliver Warbucks to save them. They need us to collectively unmask hidden issues and create tangible solutions that prevent and end their homelessness. It is not “their” problem to fix. It is all of ours.
With a full stomach and a thankful heart, instead, I am looking at the larger picture of homelessness in America. Whether or not you see the glass as half-full or empty, a broader view on homelessness can be confusing.
“Homelessness could happen to you.” This is a phrase we may quietly utter to our friends, or even to ourselves, when we stroll by a homeless stranger on the street. “There but for the grace of God, go I,” we say.
If we fail to continue to provide programs that address poverty, more people will end up living on our streets. It’s not as simple as a cash handout. We need to do more.
In a city filled with hundreds of thousands of millionaires, does it really matter that instead of 54,000, we have 36,000 people squandering on our streets like animals?