Increase in Hunger and Homelessness in the U.S.

Homelessness isn’t a novel phenomenon in the area where I live. Nearly every busy intersection has street corners occupied by people with signs asking for handouts. They’ve been there for years. I prefer to give food versus money, and will generally offer it if I have something available in my vehicle. I once handed a young man a piece of fruit, a kiwi. He tore into it ravenously. It’s hard to witness that and then go home to comfort.

I worked with homeless veterans for 2.5 years. One-quarter of the homeless population is comprised of veterans. It’s an abominable black spot on a government that gleefully sends young people to fight their wars and then forgets about them when they return home war torn and forever scarred, or walking wounded as they’re often referred.

Of late, I’ve been keeping dollar bills close by, putting them into outstretched, empty hands. A few days ago a dollar to a man who said he was trying to gather enough money to to take the train home. One dollar to the unkempt man sitting on his belongings in the cold morning fog next to a steamy Dutch Brothers coffee kiosk. He hurriedly, to beat the green light, ran to the passenger side of my vehicle when he saw me offering him money. His face lit up. He thanked me profusely and said “god bless”. It was only one dollar, so little for me and so much for him. Last week a man in a wheelchair outside a health food store where I shop. A dollar in his hand. Nothing for me, so much for him. If you’ve not experienced the joy of giving, try it. Donate time, money, food or winter clothing. It will warm you much longer than an over-priced latte.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. Mother Teresa.

Homelessness rising as economy slides

Homelessness and demand for emergency food are rising in the United States as the economy founders, a report said on Friday, and homeless advocates cautioned many cities were not equipped for the increase.

A survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors showed that 19 of 25 cities saw an increase in homelessness in the 12 months to October, while four reported a drop and two cities lacked enough data for conclusive results.

On average, the cities in the survey saw a 12 percent rise in homelessness, the report said. Although the results do not cover all U.S. cities, homeless advocates said they were in line with anecdotal evidence nationwide.

Homeless advocates say families are flooding homeless shelters across the United States in numbers not seen for years, camping out in motels or staying with friends and relatives following foreclosures on tens of thousands of homes during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The rest of the story can be read HERE


2 responses to “Increase in Hunger and Homelessness in the U.S.

  1. If you get a chance, rent the documentary “The Ground Truth” (I rented it through NetFlix, but it may be available at the Library). I thought of you when I saw it recently.

    It starts with a reference to the post-WWII study that revealed that most soldiers wouldn’t kill (i.e. point and fire their rifle) if they can see their enemy’s face. It then mentions how starting with the Vietnam war, the military changed its training tactics to make people into “killing machines” by dismantling the natural human instinct not to kill one’s own species (in contrast with how our planet often seems, apparently we are born with a moral compass). By enabling them to look a person in the eye and then kill them, repeatedly if “necessary”, this psychological transition in civilian terms, makes them into sociopaths.

    The majority of the movie is about how difficult it is for returning soldiers to adjust to civilian life, whether its because of the “killer rage” they were instilled with that they can’t shut off, or the enormous guilt that they have for having killed civilians, especially children. Apparently this war and the Vietnam war have that in common, but possibly even more rampant in Iraq. And then a large part of the movie discusses ways in which the government is abandoning them — a common example being diagnosing their PTSD as a Personality Disorder, calling in a pre-existing condition, and not treating them at all.

    At any rate, if you see the movie you’ll probably be left with a lot of sadness and disgust, and then if like me, one other lingering question. How will these traumatized 20-somethings, who just spent months or years killing plain-clothed enemies and civilians alike, who claim to be so on edge that seeing a car accident throws them into a state of combat readiness — how will they adjust to “civilian unrest” duty stateside? Will screaming crowds be something that they can handle calmly and tactfully? Its not what they are trained for, and its not what their experiences have prepared them for. I find the whole thing pretty disturbing.

    • Thank you humanrob for your comment and for the recommendation of the film. it’s on my list! my next post will speak to how children are trained to kill the ‘enemy’. Indeed, all disturbing.

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