Home Budget, Economy Heartbreaking Report on Homeless Families, Hungry Kids

Heartbreaking Report on Homeless Families, Hungry Kids

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Last night’s 60 Minutes reported on the lingering impacts of the Great Recession, as long-term unemployment continues to devastate families across the country:

Thanks to school nutrition programs, children from struggling families can at least count on solid meals at school. But what does it say about the morals of today’s GOP when Republicans in places like Colorado and Montana are trying to slash food assistance (and national Republicans are trying to cut Head Start) for children in need?

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    For six years I volunteered for the Interfaith Hospitality Network in Roanoke VA, a group of churches and synagogues that band together to provide sleeping arrangements and dinner meals for homeless families. The homeless participants helped me far more than I did them. One of the sad facts about how we divide ourselves in this diverse nation is that far too many of us grow up never having related to a person of a different culture or from a different socioeconomic background. It doesn’t take long to see that we all share the same humanity, if only we have a chance to interact.

    If I were to simplify what brought the families to IHN, I suppose I could group them into three categories:

    1. People who lost jobs, ran through savings, were evicted from homes or apartments, and found themselves unable to find other work or to save the very large deposits needed to rent another place.

    2. People in desperate need of mental or physical care for problems they had, problems that made it impossible for them to hold down a job for very long.

    3. People who a generation or two ago would have been able to easily find work and sustain their families, but who do not have the skills needed for jobs available today.

    All of the people in the network shared a couple of things, including a deep love for their families and a desire to give a better life to their children.

    The CBS piece captures well exactly what I learned from the children of IHN.

  • I don’t work with families at Homeless Point of Entry in Richmond, but I receive the daily phone calls from desperate mothers and fathers every morning checking to see if there is shelter available. There is usually a 3-4 week waiting list. While they wait, they sleep in cars, split up their family, and take turns sleeping on benches and in other public areas. They all plead on the phone and think their situation is unique. Unfortunately, it is not. Instead, most of us are just one job loss, one illness, one car break down, from homelessness.  

  • Teddy Goodson

    I remember there were often men at our back door, seeking work. We called them hoboes back then, and they were not ne-er-do-wells or druggies, they were almost always family men riding the rails from town to town, desperately trying to find work so they could send money to their families (many of whom were living with extended family members in another state).

    In the past, we had a frontier to which unsuccessful men could move, looking for a second (or third) chance; or, they could sign on as a bondservant and go to the colonies, avoiding debtor prison. That escape hatch is no longer available, and our economic-political system is in the rut of “creative destruction” (also called “disaster capitalism”) which actually regards depressions/recessions as inevitable, a natural but painful way to cycle ahead.  The human cost, the social cost of such ruthless Darwinism is ignored—- when it is not openly welcomed by Republicans and successful capitalists.