Homeless Children, Countries’ New Generation

This article will show how the face of the homeless population has changed over the past 3 years and hopefully bring attention to this social disease.

Companies who have outsourced their work to other countries, the struggling U.S. economy and many other factors have created more homeless families in America than ever thought possible. During the great depression, there were 250,000 homeless children and today that number is staggering.

Like most 55-year-old Americans I grew up in a society where the homeless person was easily identified. He, in most cases, was the one sleeping on the park bench, wearing filthy clothes or reeking of alcohol and begging for spare change. My parents always cautioned me to watch for those people. “Don’t give them your money ’cause they are nothing but drunks and bums”, my dad would say. Little did I know that later in my life those people would change my life forever.

There have always been homeless people in the United States and throughout the World. There are always people becoming homeless from an earthquake, flood, or some other natural disaster. It is at that point when our government like many others will pour money into these disaster-stricken areas which makes us all feel better since we did the right thing.

In the United States, however, people who may have some sort of mental illness or people with drug or alcohol addictions, and others who just won’t strive to make a better life for themselves, and of course those just down on their luck have been homeless and continue to be homeless. Unfortunately, in this country, in this day and age, all those people just mentioned who have been pigeonholed as failures since the beginning of time has even more obstacles to overcome. Now they have to share their morsels of food, their bridges and underpasses, their cold and wet cardboard boxes with the most unlikely American people to be homeless……children.

23% of all homeless people are children

Children account for more than 23% of homeless people in this country today. I’m sure you are asking yourself, how can that be? Children are in a situation they have no control over. The children didn’t find it trendy one day to ask Mom and Dad to go to sleep outside and give up all their possessions. Children are homeless due to families losing their housing from job cuts and mortgages the family can no longer afford.

We live in a country that gives billions of American dollars to countries overseas to assist them with their local economy yet there are more than 10,000 people in this country who have no place to sleep or no food to eat on a daily basis. In 2007 the homeless population in this country was 3,500,000 people which to me seems impossible to comprehend and yet now that number has more than tripled in 3 years. Does our current administration not see these people, or do they not care?

We are talking about families with children. These are your neighbors, friends, family members, we are talking about. This is no longer an issue we can just ignore and hope it goes away. I personally think this may hit closer to home than we are comfortable with. Statistics and research have proven most Americans are only one or two missed paychecks away from bankruptcy.

So what do we do now? Do we pretend children in this country are not homeless? We all see the work large agencies are doing to assist as many homeless people as they can and we think, they’ll be OK. Did you know that most homeless shelters are full every night and millions of people are turned away, including children?

Children can be taken away from the family

Did you know if you call some agencies for help and tell them your children are cold due to you not having heat, that same agency may take your children from you and place them in a better environment? At a time when all the family has left is one another would you like to have your children taken from you? Did you know that in some agencies your 11-year-old son has to be placed with the single men even if they have room for your family? Think of it, your 11-year-old son is already frightened and he is going to be away from his Mom and sisters, sleeping in a dorm room where there may be as many as 15 grown men, some of which have drug and alcohol addictions. How does that make you feel? Still, want your government to give your tax dollars away to other countries?

The next time you see a person begging for money or assistance, ask yourself are they really homeless? We all shy away from giving people money but what about offering to buy them a sandwich. What about taking a few minutes out of our busy day to ask them if they have a family, or suggest a nearby shelter. Make yourself take the time to learn where the nearby shelters are and get involved.

The face of the homeless has changed from the scruffy man sleeping on the park bench and the next time you look in a mirror the face of the homeless may be……….yours!

Advocates Say Homeless Need Protection

Group Argues That Crimes Against The Homeless Should Be Hate Crime

The number of attacks on the homeless seems to be down, but the violence of the attacks are going up. Advocates say these attacks should be counted as hate crimes.

Advocates for the homeless say that attacks on the visibly homeless may not be on the rise, but they are getting worse. California and Florida share a dubious distinction among the states by being home to the most attacks on the homeless. California had 30 and Florida had 22. Other states trail in the single digits. The statistics have been kept since 1999. Advocates for the homeless say that the homeless are being attacked because of who they are, and that makes it a hate crime. These advocates say that while the attacks may be on the rise, they are getting more violent and the offenders are getting younger. Younger offenders greater intensity of crimes.

Attacks On The Homeless By The Young

Michael Stoops, Executive Director for the National Coalition of the Homeless, says the economic downturn is making the homeless more visible. In California, anti-vagrancy laws make it difficult for the homeless in California to gather in parks. Stoops tells the Sacramento Bee:

“There’s just absolutely no place in California you can go without coming upon a visible homeless population unless you’re in the parks.” He also says, “attacks are getting more serious, with more bodily harm…People think they can hurt a homeless person because no one will care, and they won’t fight back.”

The homeless are also somewhat wary of dealing with police because of anti-vagrancy laws. The very homelessness that makes them vulnerable could put them in violation of the law. The enforcement of anti-vagrancy laws has been stepped up in recent years.

The attacks in California vary in type and intensity. Some of the attacks include being pelted with objects to burnings. One man was blinded by young people with a paintball gun. These attacks are often perpetrated by people in their 20s and younger. Some of the attacks have even been filmed by the attacker. Advocates say that homeless are entitled to special protection because of their vulnerability.

Making Attacks On The Homeless A Hate Crime

This past legislative session, US Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas and Robert Wexler, of Florida both Democrats. The legislation would add homelessness as a category in keeping hate crimes statistics. The National Coalition for the Homeless says in a flier promoting the law:

“The Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act is important legislation to monitor hate crimes against homeless people. Unfortunately, current legislation does not monitor crimes against people experiencing homelessness, a population group of victims that are also experiencing a pattern of intentional bias-based selection.”

The flier also asks people to report such crimes to their lawmakers.