Do We Care About Homeless Children?
Early this morning I went out for a six-mile run with my running club. We started just north of the Santa Monica Pier and ran south along the boardwalk. There are always homeless people at various places along the way, but once we crossed into Venice, today I noticed a definite uptick from the usual number.
There were the people huddled up with wads of newspaper, people in sleeping bags, families under makeshift tents--and there were children.
One little boy stood next to his sleeping bag, looking at us run by. A block down, I spied a little girl still curled up in hers, next to a man I assume was her father.
And I began to cry as I ran.
Last year I interviewed a staff person from School on Wheels, an L.A.-based nonprofit that provides educational services to homeless children. She told me that although we stereotype homeless people as older, males with drinking or mental health problems, that's not the majority of the homeless population. The average age for a homeless person in the United States is nine years old.
My heart broke this morning to see these children sleeping on the sidewalk, steps from pricey beachfront property, in a country that, despite recent hardships, is still one of the most prosperous in human history.
I can't stop thinking about what I saw, and how easily we tune it out. Sure, my son is comfortable on the sofa on a Saturday night, but how can I sleep easy when other people's children aren't so fortunate?
I could go on my usual rant about cossetted politicians who have no understanding of ordinary lives, but I'll desist.
America has had a mixed track record in this space ... sometimes we get it right, often times we don't.
That stat IS shocking, isn't it. I remember when they first told me, I was floored. What scares me is that I know a LOT of people that if they lost their jobs, they'd be thisclose to being homeless. It's scary.
That's so immoral that there's only one shelter for youth with only 14 beds. Yeah, where are you going to go when there really is nowhere safe to go. Folks make tough choices to survive, and then the very people who promote the rampant individualism that lets these kinds of conditions thrive turn around and tsk-tsk them. It really really broke my heart this weekend when I saw all the kids. Just so sad.
Our society certainly isn't feeling all that great right now, because we're failing. I know folks talk all the time about how we're spending trillions on war and we have one of the highest child poverty rates in the industrialized world--if not the highest--seeing those kids just brought it all home. We really are like the fall of the Roman Empire.
The cynic in me thinks this is going to get worse before it