Friday, October 13, 2006

Washington DC: Homelessness Capital

How do Federal Officials Walk Past So Many Homeless People?

Washington DC certainly does not have the most homeless people in the Country that spot is reserved for Los Angeles followed by New York City. They also do not have the largest per capita or most visible long term homeless like San Francisco, but DC has an amazing number of homeless people sleeping outside. I am visiting Washington for the National Coalition for the Homeless Board meeting, and it never ceases to amaze me how many people sleep outside in the nation's capital.

Maybe because our legislators only work part time and rarely stay in the City anymore, so they do not see the real face of the district. The Congress is usually only doing business Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with the other days back in the district raising money. There are men and women sleeping on park benches. There are people in doorways early in the morning, and homeless people everywhere. How do they not get the attention of people that could actually do something? There are people sleeping near the White House (as close as you can get in the pre-9/11 world). There are men and women near the Capital, and yet nothing gets done.

When they drive to work or more likely are driven to work are they on their cell phones and blackberries so they block out the human toll of their decisions? How do they not see the impact of gutting of the HUD budget with the sad faces sleeping on the steam grates? How do they not see that the spending on "security" and war has meant less spending on stability of citizens of the United States? The National Coalition oversees an urban plunge where college students become homeless for a week. This should be a requirement for all freshman congressional representatives and their staffs.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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