Posts Tagged ‘Homeless Veterans’

CAN WE AFFORD TO HOUSE THE HOMELESS?

January 11, 2014

It may sound callous and indifferent to say it would save taxpayers significantly to house the homeless. But we apparently live in a nation of many callous and indifferent people, who seem to think it’s in their own best interest to simply ignore the homeless.

Based on actual calculations by the state of Utah of how much it costs to arrest and jail the homeless and provide emergency room services, the average cost per homeless person to the taxpayers of Utah is over $16,500 per year. Utah has discovered housing the homeless instead, including the cost of providing a social worker, costs the taxpayers about $11,000 annually, a savings to the taxpayer of over $5500 per homeless individual.

Unlike many cities continuing to pour taxpayer dollars down the drain arresting, jailing and re-arresting the homeless, Utah has since 2005 began offering those without shelter an apartment and, the entire state is on pace to eliminate homelessness by 2015. While housing the homeless for no cost might not be the best idea, most certainly housing them for one-third of their income, regardless of what it is, would save taxpaying citizens significantly.

Not included in the above calculations, are many other additional not so obvious costs to taxpayers when cities refuse to provide affordable housing. Perhaps most importantly and least understood by American citizens in general, it is a well-established historical fact that pandemics and plagues typically arise among the poorest sections within large urban areas, where adequate shelter, nutrition and medical care is most lacking.

Scientists for several years have been warning that major plague is long overdue and could erupt at any time here in the 21st Century. Disease knows no economic or other boundaries and can quickly spread in all directions upward and outward. It isn’t an exaggeration at all to say that failing to provide adequate shelter, nutrition and medical care for everyone within our borders, is simply begging for national and global disaster to erupt. No one is safe from contagious diseases, regardless of how wealthy or insulated we may be, nor are any of our own children.

Many millions of federal, state, county and city tax dollars are spent in various ways on social outreach services and similar programs that would not be spent if there was no homeless population. And, many billions more are spent by private charities, where much of this is donated by taxpaying citizens. The total cost of private donations combined with various taxpayer funded social outreach programs, significantly adds to the cost of not housing the homeless.

With all costs included, it is at least 50% less expensive to house a homeless person, charging them one-third of their income, than to not house the same homeless person. American cities could begin buying up vacant homes and other structures and start housing the homeless, which would have the added benefit of reducing crime, stabilizing and driving up property values in distressed neighborhoods. Can we afford NOT to house the homeless? You decide.

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IS OBAMA SMARTER THAN BUSH?

November 5, 2009

According to George W. Bush, we are fighting in Iraq to “secure the peace” and, to “secure freedom and democracy”.  Is there any historical or other rational reason to believe this?  If war can secure peace then why, after 10,000 years of war, isn’t there peace on earth by now?

War didn’t begin with the American Revolution, nor did it end there; many soldiers who fought against the British rose up in “Shay’s Rebellion” against wealthy colonists who were taking their land and throwing them into debtors prison.  Soon after, another war against the British erupted.

Then came the Mexican-American War, Civil War, Spanish-American War and War in the Philippines.  And then, the so-called “war to end all wars”, WWI, soon followed by WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War and now, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Spaced among this long sad bloody list of war after war after war, were several slave uprisings, a long drawn-out war against Native populations and many smaller wars and battles.  There have also been many “uprisings” within the U.S. population, including mob murder of African-Americans, Irish, Jews, Mormons, Chinese, Latinos, adult and even, child workers on strike.

Yet today, after all this bloodshed, we find ourselves at war, yet again.  In spite of the overwhelming historical evidence, a morally bankrupt American population remains quick on the trigger and very slow to understand, that war will never “secure the peace”.  Is President Obama acting any wiser than Bush by continuing to stay the course in Iraq and increase troop levels in Afghanistan?

Some people claim Gandhi was wrong because he ended up a martyr.  Yet, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and a great many others claim to have been inspired by him.  Did Gandhi lose in the great historical war between pro and anti-human rights forces, the only war that really matters?

According to Jesus, the solution to war is to put down our swords.  A small child can easily grasp this crystal clear logic of Jesus, yet we find people today pretending to follow him, who still promote war as the solution to somehow secure the peace.  The life of Jesus has inspired millions of people to promote peace and goodwill.  Thus, he won a far, far, far greater victory than all of the military generals in history combined.

It is entirely logical, that if I promote peace and goodwill, I will help humanity and leave a positive legacy for others to emulate.  It is likewise, entirely logical that if I promote war as a solution, I will hurt humanity and extend the trail of tears for others to emulate.

We as individuals have little choice what our leaders or other people do.  However, we each have a personal choice to make, to either stand up for peace and goodwill or, to bow to peer pressure and promote war and other violence.

It takes courage to stand up against one’s own society, which is why Isaiah and Jesus continue to be revered by millions.  It takes only a victim of societal pressure to promote war.  It is mature to promote peace and goodwill; it is childish, historically and patently absurd to promote anything else.

Is Obama any smarter than Bush?  You decide.

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WHY ARE VETERANS HOMELESS IN AMERICA?

October 17, 2009

United States homeless veterans include a significant growing number from the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Many suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and severe sleep deprivation.  Often those who have never suffered from the inability to sleep are unaware of how great of a toll such a problem has, in preventing those who do from being able to function well enough to hold down a steady job.

Many veterans have lost their civilian jobs due to extended tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere and upon returning home, find it very difficult to support themselves and their families.  Many who are not currently homeless are in danger of becoming so, especially in growing economic hard times.

In 2006, approximately 196,000 veterans were homeless on any given night, up from an estimated 194,000 in 2005.  Estimates of the total number of homeless veterans in the United States currently exceed 500,000; this figure doesn’t include spouses and children, who may also be homeless or severely impoverished.

An additional half million more pay over 50% of their income to cover their rent or mortgage.  In the United States, 26% of the homeless population are veterans, while they represent only 11% of the adult population.  In Tennessee alone, there were approximately 2800 veterans homeless on any given night in 2006 and, numbers have steadily increased due to the worsening economy since then.

According to many social service providers, while lack of income, disabilities, physical sickness, mental health issues and substance abuse all contribute to homelessness, the primary reason veterans are homeless is the lack of affordable housing.  And, this problem keeps getting worse, rather than better.

Regardless of religious, political or other persuasion, there is no excuse for the citizens of the United States to allow even one veteran or one veteran’s spouse or child to be homeless.  Politicians who refuse to help them should be voted out of office and candidates who don’t place helping them at the top of their agenda should not be voted for in the first place, regardless of party or position on any other issue.

Americans who sit idly by and make no attempt to address and alleviate problems of poverty in general and the plight of homeless veterans and children in particular, demonstrate a severe lack of patriotism.  And, they display a severe lack of historical and moral understanding and absence of personal ethics, responsibility, respect and dignity.

Do Americans who ignore the plight of homeless veterans really support the troops?  Can we march in parades waving flags pretending to be patriotic while continuing to ignore our growing homeless population, regardless of the reasons why they are homeless?

What manner of nation claims to be the greatest nation on earth and to be a beacon for freedom and democracy to the rest of the world and yet, her citizens continue to look the other way while growing numbers of homeless veterans and children struggle in plain sight to somehow survive?

Why are there homeless veterans in America?  You decide.

Link to footnotes and documentation for the above article