A recent report indicated that there are currently 40,000 homeless in New York City. This is a staggering statistic – this number is equivalent to the entire population of a small town. Given the harsh winters in New York, this is a very disturbing reality. New York is by no means unique in this regard. The following table shows homelessness statistics for the entire nation as of 2009. Please keep in mind the fact that present economic situation has worsened considerably and these numbers are more than likely elevated.
In addition, there are many millions of individuals at a greater risk for homelessness as the following table indicates
Note – These data are taken from the National Report on Homelessness from the National Alliance to End Homelessness
The horrific state of homelessness impacts men, women, children, the old and the young, the mentally ill and even the handicapped. There are, in fact, whole families that are homeless. It is not uncommon for families to be homeless in which the head of the household is employed. In my mind, there is no justifiable reason for anyone to be homeless in America; the suffering that is endured by so many is wholly unnecessary. Consider the extent of the waste evident in the federal budget especially in regards to military expenditures and the ludicrous concessions made to corporations with the help of the legions of lobbyists paid exorbitant sums to extricate concessions from an essentially apathetic Congress. Consider the vast transfer of public wealth to private hands that has transpired within the last thirty years. Consider the corruption that is so evident within local governments. These are governments that often pander to wealth and find all manner of rationales to ignore the plight of so many of their citizens.
The state of homelessness is evidence of the seemingly pervasive cultural indifference to the living conditions of those less fortunate. This is a troubling aspect of American life. It need not be the case, however. This nation is woefully out of balance. What is required is a sense of urgency in meeting the needs of those who are in crisis. What is needed is a serious reevaluation of what we, as a people, collectively regards as important and worthy of immediate attention. In my mind, to ignore those who suffer unnecessarily is to effectively undermine the future.