The issue of homelessness has continued to pop up as an alarming issue for me. Whether it’s the individuals I see on the street corners, or the stories of Homeless people who do not survive the night. Perhaps it’s the fear that any one of us, could become homeless at any moment. I often ask, how is this possible? President Obama shared in his speech about raising the minimum wage that those working full time should not be living in poverty. Well, 42% of all homeless have full time, minimum wage jobs. The catalysts that thrusted these people into homelessness range from alcohol issues to job loss to young people who come out to their families. Domestic violence leaves women homeless, and then often times are re-victimized on the streets either physically or emotionally by those who look down on the Homeless not realizing that they themselves could end up there just the same.
Families who are facing foreclosure are more likely to end up homeless. They get thrown out of their home, are unable to find a home because their credit reflects the foreclosure and are often left with options that don’t fit their needs. This may be in housing too small, or having to rent motel rooms on a weekly basis, etc.
There have been various different efforts underway to help reduce homelessness but unless the causes of homelessness are addressed, this issue will not actually be addressed. It will simply be a revolving door of people in and out of homelessness.
Our democratic infrastructure has a lot of work to do:
- Address the needs of returning vets, provide mental health support, substance abuse treatment, adequate housing and support in finding a good sustaining job. Our country should have enough jobs for those who need to make a living and leave the lower paying jobs for the teens that are being pushed out of the work force so they can have the jobs necessary for professional development that many of us benefitted from growing up.
- Greater public education and reprimand towards abusive parents, spouses, partners. Victims of abuse should not have to choose between getting beaten or living on the streets, or in a crowded shelter. More services for individuals must be made available and greater public intolerance to abusive situations must happen.
- STOP with the HOMOPHOBIA. 1 in 4 youth who come out to their parents are made homeless that very same day. Why is that? Because there is a disgusting tolerance of homophobia. We blame it on ignorance and religious freedoms. Well, when the citizenry sees decision makers treat the LGBTQ population as a second and third class citizenship, their homophobia is being reinforced. If our decision makers show value to our beautiful diverse community, then perhaps at home, diversity may also be accepted. And, for the parents who do not value diversity and kick out their kids, they must be held responsible and pay for their kid to live outside of the home, ie. rent, food, school expenses, medical bills, etc.
- RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE. Everyone benefits. Our minimum wage population is contributing 20% less to our economy today than they were in the Reagan era. What does this mean? This means that if we did not have inflation, the minimum wage would have DROPPED by 20% over the last 30 years!
- Creating jobs is not enough. We must create GOOD PAYING jobs. Lets take the AFL-CIO as an example. THE AFL-CIO was an interesting beast back in the day, in fact they were perpetrators of keeping women at home and men in the workforce. Relax, I‘m not advocating for this. Let me explain. This Union believed that one worker in the household should be able to make enough money to provide for the whole family. They believed in good paying jobs, albeit, in a pretty sexist way at the time, but nonetheless, good paying jobs.
- Pass laws for JUST CAUSE in employment. people should be allowed to be terminated because of a personality clash. There must be protection for those who are not the boss from being fired one day to the next. Job loss has contributed to 35% of homelessness.
- If you pass a policy to ban urban camping, then you had better be ready to build more low-income housing, shelters, transitional housing units and give the individuals you are kicking out of their “homes” a new place to stay.
- Declare Homelessness a national disaster and rush services to the victims of homelessness. Rebuild their housing, give them food, job training, and support in getting back on their feet.
What do you think we can do to address homelessness?
Check out this Pinterest page about Homeless Women
Coalition for the Homeless
Denver Rescue Mission