Our collective heart has hardened towards people struggling with poverty and homelessness

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Is it so hard to imagine? A string of tough luck and you lose your job, your house, your support… and you’re living on the street. You don’t have a car, let alone any money or food. All you have is your life and the clothes on your back. How would you cope?

My father-in-law, Bill Kolb, helped people down on their luck for many years here in Santa Clara, CA. He worked with St. Vincent DePaul (the charitable organization), volunteering his time by helping to feed the hungry and homeless at shelters in the area. He also often opened his home to folks that had nothing and lived on the street, allowing them to take a shower and serving them a square meal.

Bill lived a life adhering to traditional Christian values. He did more than just talk about it– he practiced it. He left an honorable legacy when he passed away nine years ago. So he would be encouraged by the current efforts in Sacramento to bring housing to elder homeless individuals.

It is hard to imagine ending up on the street. In fact, many who do can’t exactly recount how it happened to them. Such is the case for Anthony Yuknevich, 92, featured in an article in the Sacramento Bee recently. Can you imagine being in your nineties and on the street, fighting to survive?

The new facility opening up in Sacramento looks to combat a growing problem in our society. It seems that we’ve gotten more cynical in the last several decades, turning people out on their own, away from assistance. It may have been the dawn of a movement when Ronald Reagan, while he was governor of California, closed the state sponsored mental health facilities and put many people on the streets to fend for themselves.

942388_596349077054573_1454319362_nThat was in the 1970’s and since then, it seems that our collective heart has hardened towards helping people struggling with poverty and homelessness. It’s as if we’ve grown used to ignoring them. We turn our gaze away when we pass them on the streets or when they ask for our spare change. Many think they are dangerous and should be jailed or removed from the areas that they frequent.

This is what is at the heart of the Occupy Movement. These individuals are living, breathing human beings and have just as much right to life as any unborn fetus. But politicians aren’t trying to court the vote of homeless people. Why is that?

For one, they don’t vote, because they don’t have a residence that they can be associated with and registered to. But then, neither do fetuses… Well, extrapolating, fetuses do have a residential uterus; but no vote or mailing address.

Occupy says that the town square is community property, that we all together own it and can partake in it. That is the idea – that we all invest in our society, and this affords us all equal protection under the law, and equal representation in our shared environment.

We’re not asking for cigars and caviar for these people. We’re asking for basic needs to be met. A square meal, a roof over their heads, and somewhere to safely lay their head so they can rest when they need to. Is that really so horrible?

6 COMMENTS

  1. The republican party has turned its back on the Vets…They refuse to give them a decent pay, most are on food stamps and now they are taking that away too. Hospital care is now limited and has Copays that were not there in the past. I know of one place in Fla, that put a garbage can (clean one) out filled with dog food that was free to those who were homeless and had a pet with them.

  2. It is a problem … I agree. Chico’s solution was to create an area where they could live. During Occupy, I asked some of the homeless how that was working out. Their response is “It’s too dirty now.” That coupled w/the fact that we can’t get $15/hour laborers in an area that supposedly has a very high unemployment rate, gave me pause.

    Yes, Reagan was a cad & I remember when Camarillo emptied. We have a duty of care to our elderly, mentally ill, orphans, wounded vets & others who cannot take care of themselves. However (& this is the big one) how do we care for the disabled when we live in a culture where for each disabled person, there are dozens of people on disability … and hardly any of them are disabled … working under the table & living quite nicely on their dual incomes? How can we combat hunger when huge, obese ppl w/their grossly fat children are buying full carts of non-food w/their food stamps? (Sorry, babe, Cheetos and Sunny Delight ain’t food!) Obviously they don’t know any better.

    I would like to replace all disability & unemployment w/re-deployment where everyone who needs assistance puts in 24 hours a week. And I would replace food stamps w/food banks w/real food … maybe w/real kitchens where ppl could learn to cook it. Everybody can do something unless they’re a veg … even if it’s just holding the hand of someone more disabled, or listening to a toddler babble. When we separate them out (unemployed or disabled) we are stripping them of their value. This is not good for them or us and the problem snowballs.

    BTW, this weekend our community had to eject a homeless couple in their twenties we were trying to give a hand because they absolutely would not execute on any level. We felt crummy as they cried … but we gave them 3 chances and they just couldn’t seem to get off their butts. Bummer. When last I saw them, they were perusing Craig’s list for “free stuff” … nothing’s free and everyone has value, unless they militantly decide to give it up. Peace.

    • “I would like to replace all disability & unemployment w/re-deployment where everyone who needs assistance puts in 24 hours a week.” and “There are dozens of people on disability … and hardly any of them are disabled…”

      Who are you to determine who is disabled or not? Are you a doctor? Do you only base a disability based on visual? There are many people who are disabled due to mental illness, something that doesn’t show. There are lots of people who are considered disabled due to chronic pain, autoimmune disorders, and other diseases that you cannot see…Thank goodness you’re not the judge for SSA.

      Also, most people who are on food stamps are already people who have children in their homes and who already have a job but do not get paid enough to be able to feed their families….so by your accounts, that person should have to work even -more- hours for a few dollars in food stamps?

      So someone who worked their entire lives, paid into the system and now is too sick/disabled to work should have to work 24 hours a week for their SS? Not everyone is like how you described, you sound like the brainwashed Reagan created with his false “welfare queen” image.

    • “However (& this is the big one) how do we care for the disabled when we live in a culture where for each disabled person, there are dozens of people on disability … and hardly any of them are disabled … working under the table & living quite nicely on their dual incomes?”

      Shame on you for being completely buffaloed by right wing propaganda. I bet you believe that there are “welfare queens” on every corner buying steaks and lobsters and packing them into their Cadillacs at the grocery store.

      But let’s just stick to disability. Do you know any disabled people? Only 30% of people get SSDI right out of the box, and that is if they have stacks of documentation from years of doctoring. After a round of appeals, and often the engagement of an attorney, another 50% or so of applicants are approved for SSDI. Now, you have to have worked substantially in the past ten years to get SSDI. People who have never worked because they can’t work may be able to qualify for the much stingier SSI program.

      The percentage of people who are getting SSDI has not gone up relative to age over the past 5 years; that’s also b.s. We have many more older people in our country with the Baby Boomers hitting their 50’s, and that’s why we have so many more people on SSDI. And a generation ago we decided that people can work an extra two years before they get full Social Security. Well, some can, many cannot. So the numbers of people applying for SSDI in their 60’s is going up and people now stay on SSDI for a year longer (going up to 2 years longer shortly) before they convert to full Social Security.

      But you buy into the b.s. that all of these people on disability are scamming the system.

      If you KNOW that these people are such scammers, I hope you are taking their names, license plate numbers, addresses, and reporting them. If not, you are ALMOST as guilty as the people that you claim are supposedly getting these dual incomes on the backs of the taxpayers. So.. do your civic duty, report them, and stop whining.

      Thank your lucky stars that you haven’t been run down by an uninsured driver, haven’t woken up one morning to a pain in your leg that turns out to be bone cancer, haven’t been laid off from a company you’ve worked for for a decade or more because you are now older and costing the company more in health services as you keep trying to do your job despite pain and slowness.

      Thank your lucky stars none of that has happened to you YET. Heavens knows what the Fates have in store for any of us.

      If you are lucky, I won’t come back and address more of your assertions.

      • Dear Molly … Love your colorful disk, btw. How do you know that none of those things have happened to me? *laughing* … And have you ever TRIED to report welfare, workers comp or any other kind of fraud?

        You seem to think we are on different sides and we’re not. Did I say anything about steaks and Cadillacs? Do you not shudder when you see obese ppl feeding their obese kids Cheetos & Sunny Delight w/their EBT card? I’m suggesting that we are not doing our citizens a favor by not using the $$ to encourage behavior we want to see … like healthy food for unhealthy ppl.

        We had twenty-somethings on the land who had been on unemployment for 2 years & then moved on to food stamps and would … not … work … for … $$. We’re not doing them a service. I’m not talking about the halt and lame … tho’ for heaven’s sake, listening to old ppl’s stories is not exactly taxing and can give great benefit to the community.

        I understand why our President wanted to extend unemployment … I’ve been to Detroit and Birmingham … but it’s not the right answer. (I want to bring the WPA back!) I totally empathise w/the truly disabled … tho of all the ppl on disability I know, there’s only one who really can’t work.

        I don’t know where you are, Molly, but in NorCal working the system is an art form and I’m just saying that we could do better. Isolating ppl & giving them benefits doesn’t do them nearly as much good as giving them benefits AND including them as contributing members of society. I loved your stats … they compare well to the ones I’ve seen. And if we’d just take the cap off of SS contributions, there’s be plenty to go around … but we still need to use it wisely or we hurt ppl. Peace … trace

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