Homeless people are in every community and in every town in our country. In response to the growing tide and frustration communities have responded in a variety of ways. Some have become proactive and are working to develop innovative strategies to provide permanent solutions to those interested in ending their homelessness. Other communities have responded by criminalizing homelessness through city and county ordinances that target the homeless for activities and behaviors that sheltered individuals enjoy every day.
I offer this opportunity to openly discuss these issues in this forum and invite readers to consider the following:
- As a nation how do we respond to the shocking numbers of homeless veterans? What obligation does our country have to those who served?
- As a community how do we come together to problem-solve an issue that hinges on the very issues that divide us? How do we agree on effective solutions if political motivations drive spending dollars?
- As volunteers how do we deal with knowing that there are people who will never fit into the system currently designed to "solve the homeless problem" because they do not fit the criteria for services? How can we work within the current systems to promote quality changes?
- As individuals how do we deal with the moral dilema of how to help without perpetuating the problem? Can we face our own bias and stereotyped images in order to hear and see differing views? Do we believe homelessness is a chosen lifestyle for most, all, none, the lazy or just those who are too downtrodden to rise up?
- As humans how do we invest ourselves in a compassionate manner without feeling as though nothing makes a difference? Can we give more than a little, but sustain our own lives? How do we decide where to give those precious few dollars and who/what agency or program is most worthy of our resources?
- As parents what does it mean to us that a large portion of today's homeless youth will be tomorrow's chronically homeless adults? What does it mean that the majority of homeless youth have been in foster care at some point in their lives? Does transitional support for youth really provide an effective solution to turn the tide of homelessness for today's youth?
Please post your comments here and remember to respond to differing opinions in a respectful manner. Thank you.