Fixing America In 500 Words Or Less


Chapter 16

HOMELESS
What Would Jesus Do?
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                                  Born along time ago
                                  In a hole outside the inn
                                  Strung up on the cross
                                  You know, we didn't give a damn
                                  Now he lives out in the city
                                  On the lower east side
                                  Sleeps in the park an' alley
                                  Any place, he can hide

                                  He's cold, his stomach's empty
                                  And his teeth are rottin' out
                                  His face is full'a sorrow
                                  Ya know, his heart is full'a doubt
                                  His clothes are old and torn
                                  And his eyes are dull with pain
                                  But he's not half as dirty
                                  As your hearts of blind insane

                                  Sunday mornin' you carry bibles
                                  Fill your pews with well-fed souls
                                  Dress your windows up in stain-glass
                                  An' drop bread in your silver bowls
                                  You sing "peace on earth"
                                  But you support men of war
                                  Vote for those who help the rich
                                  And screw the sick and poor

                                  Oh beautiful for spacious skies
                                  For amber waves of grain
                                  Your poor and wretched millions
                                  Have become an open shame
                                  Beneath your gilded steeple
                                  Where they beg for crusts of bread
                                  Cry old women and helpless children
                                  With no place to lay their head

                                  Listen up America
                                  Better listen up real good
                                  Try an' understand the reason why
                                  The nails went in the wood
                                  Reach out a hand to help the poor
                                  Reach out a hand to help the sick
                                  Some father's lookin' on an' they say
                                  He carries a mighty stick

                                  Pretend to care about the unborn
                                  Hold up your self-righteous fist
                                  But guess who's comin' soon an'
                                  Great God !  Man, is he pissed !

                                  Born along time ago
                                  In a hole outside the inn
                                  Strung up on the cross
                                  Ya know, we didn't give a damn
                                  Now he lives out in the city
                                  On the lower east side
                                  Sleeps in the park and alley
                                  Any place, he can hide

                                  Ya know, Sodom learned the hard way
                                  Ain't no place we can hide
                                  Listen up America. . .
                                  Better listen up America. . .
                                  Umm ummmm, better listen up America. . . * ** ***


National Coalition For The Homeless

National Law Center On Homelessness and Poverty


DEDICATED TO:  The Homeless Population of modern-day America.  What manner of nation would use half of the world's resources, harbor much of the world's wealth, contain a large percentageof the world's educated elite, continue to build some of the world's most expensive (and entirely worthless) religious edifices, provide unwarranted tax breaks for the extremely wealthy top 1% of the population and an entertainment industry which routinely spends over one hundred million dollars to create meaningless motion picture drivel, claim to have the preferred form of government for the entire planet and to stand for truth and justice. . . and yet look the other way as impoverished homeless war veterans, senior citizen's and children are forced to sleep in cardboard boxes, in back alleyways, under bridges, in city parks and on city sidewalks?  Will the country which Samuel Clemens referred to as the "land of bibles" go down in history as the one nation, beyond all others, that devolved into an utter profane insult to the Creator of the universe?


*FootNote:  Inspired by "Tramp On The Street" by Grady & Hazel Cole and "Greenwood" by Peter Yarrow, as performed by King David's beloved friends, Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey & Mary Travers.

**FootNote II:  "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom:  She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."  --Ezekiel 16:49

***FootNote: UNITED STATES HOMELESS STATISTICS:
According to official government statistics issued in November of 2007, more than 1 in 10 people in the United States go hungry.  And, several sources report since the recession of 2008, this number has grown significantly.  More than 35 million people went hungry in 2006 according to the same report; almost 13 million of them were children and many of the rest were impoverished senior citizens.  In response, David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World said:  "The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that still allows hunger within its borders."

While it is literally impossible to obtain entirely accurate statistics regarding poverty in America, valid estimates can be made based on a variety of agency, government and other sources.  On August 1st, 2003, it was estimated that 2.5 - 3.5 million Americans were entirely homeless and millions more lived in motels, vehicles, garages, abandoned buildings and other makeshift accommodations.  According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, the bare minimum of entirely homeless individuals in the United States in 2006 was more than 750,000.

The actual number today in 2014 is likely over 5 million.  Many cities only count the homeless who are in shelters on a given random date, thus reporting grossly under-inflated figures which in turn, are published as "fact" by federal agencies and the media.  Metro schools for the City of of Nashville for example, reported there were 3000 homeless children enrolled in 2012, while the city reported a total homeless population of 6-7,000.  The true number is obviously far greater, as the large majority of homeless Americans are adult males without children with them.

Suffice it to say, those who work with the homeless claim there are over 1 million homeless children in the United States, while the number of homeless veterans remains in the hundreds of thousands.  Many Americans have part-time shelter, moving in and out of motels and other weekly rental situations.  Others "couch surf" from home to home and, when these and others who live in garages, motor homes, automobiles, abandoned buildings, tent cities and other forms of unstable temporary accommodations are included, the number of Americans without a permanent residence may number well over 10 million.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, over 60 American cities have essentially made it a crime to be poor, introducing measures to make it illegal to beg or sleep on the street, to sit in bus shelters for more than an hour, to stand on the corner soliciting work and some cities, including Las Vegas, have made it illegal to feed the homeless in parks and other public places.  This is a gross violation of federal anti-discrimination laws unless such draconian measures are uniformly applied to citizens of all economic status, including making it illegal to feed relatives and children or to share food with friends at a public picnic area as well.  Meanwhile, neither the Republican or Democratic Party has any plan whatsoever directly addressing America's growing homeless population, nor are the homeless, including homeless war veterans, even mentioned as a priority in their party platform agendas.

In January of 2005, it was estimated by veterans groups there were approximately 230,000 homeless veterans in living on the streets of America.  For more information about homeless veterans, see link above and Operation Stand Down of Nashville, Tennessee.  If only 5% of the current American military budget was diverted to end the growing hunger within our own borders, there would be virtually no hunger in the United States.  An additional 10% diverted annually, if managed correctly, could eventually wipe out starvation on the entire continent of Africa.

One of fastest growing statistical segments of the U.S. homeless population is single women with children.  Lack of affordable healthcare, coupled with a catastrophic family illness, is a growing reason why many formerly working-class and middle-class productive citizens are becoming homeless.  Other homeless statistics compiled by the National Coalition for the homeless include the following:

Approximately 50% of all homeless women and children are fleeing some form of domestic violence.  Approximately 25% of the urban homeless are children under 18. 40% of homeless men have served in the U.S. military.  Caucasians make up only 35% of the homeless, while 50% are African Americans; 40% are single men, 14% single women and 46% are couples, families or children.  While it is true that many homeless individuals suffer from mental disabilities and addiction, several studies indicate that much of the problem, especially in regards to addiction, occurs after individuals become homeless, thus making homelessness a cause of addiction, rather than the other way around, as is so often assumed by many of those attempting to excuse themselves for being unwilling to help.

Studies conducted by Philip Mangano, former National Homeless Policy Czar under both presidents Bush and Obama, reveal that it costs taxpayers on national, state and local taxation levels, far more to not house a homeless person than to house the same homeless person.  Costs for arresting and jailing America's poor, as well as costs for hospitalization, medical expenses, shelters, social workers and other taxpayer supported services, can range from $35,000 to well over $150,000 annually per homeless individual, while costs to house the same individual range from $13,000 to $25,000 annually.  Many homeless people are employed, receive social security or some other income and, when cities charge them 30 percent of their income for housing, annual savings to taxpayers can be considerably more: Link to Philip Mangano Interview.

According to a Los Angeles study, it costs taxpayers in Los Angeles $605 per month to house homeless veterans, while it costs the same taxpayers $2,900 per month in law enforcement, jail, court, health care and other costs to not house them: Link to Los Angeles County Comparative Cost Analysis.  Phoenix, Arizona has dramatically reduced the number and taxpayer costs of homeless veterans by housing rather than arresting them: Link to NY Times Arizona Article.  After conducting studies clearly demonstrating it is statistically far less expensive to house than to not house homeless people, the State of Utah is now on course to virtually eliminate homelessness entirely by 2015: Link to Utah Article.

In Florida it cost the taxpayers of Osceola County over 5 million dollars to repeatedly arrest and jail 37 homeless people over a period of ten years, not including police, court and health costs, while it would have cost only about 3.5 million to house them instead, including rent and utilities: Link to Florida Article.  According to a study conducted by the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, "Florida residents pay $31,065 per chronically homeless person every year they live on the streets", while it would cost the same Florida taxpayers only "$10,051 per homeless person to give them a permanent place to live and services like job training and health care", representing a 68% savings in taxpayer dollars: Link to Florida Commission on Homelessness study.  According to the Denver Business Journal, it costs $50,000 annually to not house the homeless, far more than it would cost to house the same homeless individuals: Link to Denver Business Journal report.

The United States loses many billions if not trillions of dollars in lost productivity annually due to the simple fact that people without adequate health care, when they contract contagious diseases, still have to go to work, take public transportation, still attend public gatherings and events, still eat and shop in public establishments and, their children still attend public schools.  Obviously, people who are sick are not going to be as productive as people who are healthy and quite obviously, untreated contagious diseases get spread around to others, whether they have health care or not who in return, will spread such diseases around to even more people.  Nobody wants common colds, flues and other communicable diseases, regardless of how good of quality our health care may be.

Modern antibiotics may not cure common diseases, but they very much serve to keep them in check and, people who can't afford to go to the doctor and obtain medicine are obviously ticking time bombs endangering the health and welfare of us all.  It is quite literally insane for a modern nation to not insure that everyone within it's borders has access to affordable quality health care.  People without adequate rest, shelter and nutrition sleeping under bridges and otherwise out in the open, are going to get sick much more easily and frequently than people with adequate resources and, they are going to be less physically able to be productive citizens.  Disease knows no economic, political or other boundaries and, many once mighty nations have fallen due in large part due to human disease turning into plague.

Before the Creator of the universe, there is no excuse whatsoever for a nation as wealthy as the United States to have one person within our borders who does not have adequate food, shelter and health care.  And it is beyond the iniquity of ancient Babylon, Egypt, Sodom and Rome combined that our leaders of all party affiliation, who hold the supreme advantage of historical perspective, do not make alleviation and elimination of poverty and disease America's number one priority issue.

Historically, it is beyond all argument that if a nation does not address its own sick and poor, that nation will not long survive, as major plagues and other diseases spread throughout the least on up to the highest rungs of a society without partiality. Historically, large populations living in poverty without foreseeable hope of improvement, either violently revolt and/or, lose all form of country loyalty, often welcoming a conquering enemy to hopefully improve their meager lives of disease, hunger and misery.  According to both Ezekiel and Jesus, God without partiality, will judge all nations by whether or not they help the sick and their poor. The historical bottom-line agreed upon by even the most atheistic of scholars is that nations in the long run, will truly reap what they sow; nations that do not help their sick and poor will not likely be around very long on the historical time clock to reap much of anything.  See Fleeing Sodom for more details.  Link to Fair Housing Resources.





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Copyright © August 20th, 2003 by Richard Aberdeen.
Copyright © Jaunary 7th, 2014 by Richard Aberdeen.
Copyright © February 1st, 2014 by Freedom Tracks Records.

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