Wednesday, November 26, 2008
School children without a home in Marion County, Florida
There are almost 43,000 students attending public schools in Marion County, Florida.
As of about a month ago, more than 1,000 of those students were homeless. No doubt that number has increased over the past several weeks as additional families have lost their homes to foreclosure.
Contrary to the thinking of some pundits on the right, most people do not choose to be homeless. As Mark Imes, CEO of Ocala's Independent National Bank and Chairman of the board for the United Way, explains in an article at Ocala.com, "...they're homeless because they lost a job, or had unexpected medical bills, or had to stay home with a sick child, or had expenses to take care of a parent. As time passed quickly, the rent fell too far behind and they moved in with family members, found a motel room, or stayed in their car until they could earn enough money to catch up."
But for many, it's too hard, if not impossible to catch up. Unemployment in Marion County continues to rise and community support systems are overburdened with needy people.
And children suffer. It's not easy to do homework when you're sleeping in a parked car.
Homelessness is by nature unstable. Moving is part of the game. "[A]nd each time this happens to a child, they face new educational and social challenges. They must change schools. They must change friends. Each time it becomes more and more difficult to fit in."
Mr. Imes notes that the United Way is focusing on this issue and intends to work toward "mobilizing community resources" to deal with it.
Unfortunately, that won't be enough. The system is broken. The state of Florida, and other, local governmental agencies, have chosen to focus on the needs of the rich and powerful rather than the poor and oppressed.
And if there are 1,000 homeless children in Marion County, Florida, one can only imagine how many of our youth are living on the streets in the major cities of our nation.
Why is it that we can find the massive amounts of money needed to beat up on a non-threatening country like Iraq, and bail out the scumbags who created this housing mess, and throw money at CEOs who ran their companies into the ground by making stupid business decisions, and cannot take care of our fellow citizens who find themselves without the resources to exist at even a marginal level?
Sometimes I'm not very proud of my country.