Used to be when you got together with friends and family, you talked about everyday things, the way things used to be and the way you think things will turn out in the future. Now that the economy tanked, I hear a different kind of conversation and usually it's about families in distress because they are one paycheck away from homelessness or have already had bouts of homelessness. Thanks to the actions of a few, we now live in the age of widespread homelessness and poverty.
I could write you a dissertation full of facts and figures on homelessness that others have already written about based off inaccurate statistics and counts that don't show you the true picture of the homeless epidemic that isn't really slowing down. Pushing around numbers on paper to make things look better than they actually are is standard practice in politics. Rather than write a letter of redundancy, I choose to share with you just how much "real change" I've experienced in the last eight years of being a homeless mother.
I invite you to read "What it's like to be a homeless mother" as it is a letter I wrote to change.org fully expecting it to be thrown away by the then editor, Josie Raymond. To my surprise, she published it and that one letter started a chain reaction I couldn't have predicted. For me, the only real change I've seen is the deliberate unraveling of the American safety net that started with certain people claiming untruths about who the poor are and why they're poor long before the economy tanked in 2008. If you read my blogs at careyfuller.com and on The Huffington Post, you will see that I talk about what daily life is like for me and the homeless youth I volunteer to help while I'm out here.
So while policy makers and politicians make decisions for help at some hazy date in the future, people are dying on the streets right now. While those who assume things about "entitlements" and how they really work or don't work complain about what they don't know or understand, someone is losing their home or committing suicide because of it. Some youth is aging out of the foster care system and heading for the streets, right now. Cities out of touch with the reality of homelessness make bad decisions and often create quality of life ordinances against the homeless. Police departments aren't trained adequately to deal with the growing problems of homelessness and officers have been caught on video in disturbing trends of violence against homeless people. Section 8 is closed to even apply for in many states yet we have more empty homes and buildings than there are people living outside. People can get guns easier than health care or enough food for their families. There aren't enough living wage jobs available to keep up with the cost of living so families have to sleep out of their cars while working more than one job and that's if they can afford childcare.
Yes, we know all about government waste when it comes to funds budgeted to social service programs not being used appropriately and there are cases of individuals using those programs fraudulently, but those cases do not and will never make up for the lack of immediate and affordable housing nationwide. There is something more than wrong when over half the country is one incident away from being homeless. Churches cannot shoulder the bulk of poverty, and common sense would say that if that were true, wouldn't they have done so by now? Community groups are doing all they can to fill in the gaps but the common denominator that dictates just how much those gaps will be filled is always funding.
I'm not a politician nor do I wish to be. I don't sit behind a fancy desk in an office surrounded by pieces of papers indicating how many colleges I've attended. I'm just a person who happens to be a homeless mother of two kids doing the best I can no matter what happens each day. What are you doing?