09/28/2011 09:47 am ET Updated Nov 28, 2011

Don't Lose Hope When a Celebrity Becomes Homeless

The stories of celebrities who were formerly homeless bring inspiration to millions. They are like ABC afternoon specials, filling us with hope. If Jim Carrey or Jewel can overcome the devastating effects of homelessness, then surely we can conquer our own personal struggles.

If Nick Ashford, the legendary songwriter and singer, can transition from a homeless man living on the streets of New York to a musician respected by America's musical royalty, then those of us who stumble with mediocrity have a chance to make an impact in this world.

But what happens when that ABC afternoon special turns into a horror film, a la Alfred Hitchcock? What happens when our favorite celebrity goes from million dollar baby to a broken homeless man living on the streets?

I thought of such a scenario after reading that Sly Stone was found living homeless in a vehicle in south Los Angeles.

What happened? Sly was that legendary soul singer who wooed the hearts of millions of Americans with his paradigm-shifting funk that formed the foundation for today's urban music.

The media found him self-medicating his sorrow, living in a van in south Los Angeles. The creator of Sly and the Family Stone lost his family connections and celebrity status to become another one of the thousands of homeless statistics in the Homeless Capital of America.

Is it that easy to burn through a million dollars of Michael Jackson's money for the publishing rights of your musical art? It's like a jumbo jet cruising at 30,000 feet living the high life above the clouds, and then plummeting to earth, the rubble becoming life on the streets.

What does the downing of a musical legend's jetliner career say about those of us who attach our hopes to his success? Should we lose hope in humanity? Is ending homelessness just a pipe dream?

Homelessness is a sad result of a country that has neglected its citizens and ignored their pleas, simply because of political or philosophical dissent or depraved priorities bent on serving the "haves".

Our hope should not be based on some celebrity we will never meet who happened to be homeless years ago. And we should not be distressed when some formerly wealthy superstar ends up on the streets. These are stories for the National Enquirer to exploit.

Our hope is found in hard-working Americans who spend their days working to house homeless Americans, and the passionate advocates who challenge our leaders to prioritize hurting Americans.