The Homelessness Marathon
The Truth About Homelessness
These facts are not part of the national dialog about homelessness (such as it is).
* Other countries take different approaches to homelessness than we do, and some do a much, much better job of preventing it than we do. They do things like keep families in their homes, even if the state has to pay the rent for a long time, because they know that the financial and social toll of homelessness would be far greater.
* For many years now, official homelessness policy in the United States has revolved around encouraging a plethora of local initiatives usually called something like "A Ten Year Plan To End Homelessness." What has been missing from all of these ten-year plans is a date on which, according to the plan, homelessness would actually end. The plans were never more than public relations gimmicks, they have massively failed, and they do not represent a serious attempt to resolve the homelessness crisis.
* Recently, unofficial homelessness policy across the United States has been to criminalize homelessness, like something out of Dickens' time. Homeless people are routinely rousted, arrested and driven from their encampments, which, for many of them (especially women), represent their only place of safety. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development does not withhold funds from communities that treat homeless people badly. HUD simply doesn't care.
* Before the 2007 financial crash, there was one (still unrecognized) group of people sounding the alarm. Homeless advocates tried to warn people that our modern crisis of homelessness was not caused by people gone bad, but by a system gone bad, and that this malfunctioning system would attack more than the poorest of the poor. Sure enough, the global economy nearly collapsed, because of a burst bubble in (not-coincidentally) the U.S. housing market. The message from homeless advocates is still the same: widespread homelessness is a symptom of a cruel economy tricked up to help only the rich.
The 16th Homelessness Marathon is available for rebroadcast
Hour One: Click here
Hour Two: Click here
Hour Three: Click here
Hour Four: Click here
Hour Five: Click here
Hour Six: Click here
At the Homelessness Marathon, we believe that the elimination of poverty is a moral duty for society. We believe that fulfilling this duty makes for a better society. And we believe that there are many ways to fulfill this duty, but that all of them should be guided by these principles:
1) The most severe forms of poverty must be addressed on an emergency basis.
2) National efforts to eliminate poverty must be funded through the national budget and must focus on changes in the system not in the poor.
These changes should include:
a) A universal living wage and universal health care.
b) A full employment economy.
c) Investment in public housing and public transportation.
d) Benefits for the truly needy that truly keep them out of need.
e) Fair taxes on corporations and wealth.
f) Recognition of food, shelter, health care and education as the rights of citizens.
3) Within these guidelines, we support a wide variety of approaches to poverty, including those based on charity, personal uplift, supportive services and economic opportunity.