Photo by Deb Holman (Duluth, 12/13)
As we sit here in the midst of a deep freeze, last night it was around -10, tonight it will be around 0, and tomorrow it will again be around -10, all before the wind chill is taken into account, I want to talk about something that really bugs me. That is homelessness. This is about as good of time as any to sit down and discuss it.
Did you know when I went to a shelter a few years ago, I was asked about Jesus? I am not christian, I have never been christian, and for the foreseeable future, I will not become one, even when I was hungry and cold, I refused to throw my standards, and who I was under the bus for the sake of a warm meal or bed. Now some of you, and I know who some of you will be, will say "Well if you were hungry enough, cold enough, scared enough you would." It is wrong to put someone in that position, a person in need is a person in need, regardless of faith or circumstance. Charity, shelter, food should always be willingly given to them without strings.
Now here is some food for thought. Minnesota, it has been brought to my attention, openly seeks out its homeless population during the fall and winter months, so that these people can be put into a hotel, specifically when it drops below 40 degrees. I have reached out to someone in the state to find out if this is based on income, and how true what I was told is. I have no reason to doubt Susan, but I always like to get it directly from the horses mouth. I do believe this to be true, and while it is not the best course of action, it is a step in the right direction, given the numbers I have seen.
How many of you knew that Utah will likely end homelessness by the end of next year (2015). I was surprised to hear that, given how conservative the state appears on the surface. I jokingly shared the link on my facebook stating that Utah was a haven for socialism. Really, it was a money saving scheme, but hey socialism is socialism. Turns out that Utah did some research and found nearly a $5,000 savings in ER costs alone, when they outright gave apartments to homeless persons or families (http://www.nationswell.com/one-state-track-become-first-end-homelessness-2015/).
In recent years there have been estimates that there are around 5 empty homes for every homeless family. Now some people will say some pretty negative things about giving homes to the homeless, but really the homes are vacant, they are dragging down property value everywhere, and not every homeless family will ride the house into the ground and be homeless again in months or years. I contend that the majority of homeless people would be glad for a physical address (so they can find any job), and if they did not have a mortgage, they could figure out a way to cover the expenses.
I am going to leave you with some statistics now (and separate website for a homeless family). I will list a few, but also the link for the full run.
25% of homeless people are unemployed.
1.75 Million people are homeless in America
Their monthly income averages out to $348 a month
28% do not eat properly
30% of homeless persons have been so for over two years
Homeless Poverty Statistics
The Richardson Family Charity