Over the last 30 years, I’ve watched the chronic homeless problem boil over the edge of the pot. It began in the cities, where poverty combined with mental illness, substance abuse and other problems to ultimately render many people incapable of maintaining day to day survival.
Finally, those in the business of dealing with homelessness decided on a new approach. Local and federal agencies have joined a national program to find 100,000 homes for the most vulnerable homeless across the country. Some Kansas City agencies are participating in the program.
Now, instead of large dormitories housing men and women for the night and turning them out into the streets, there will be new quads available to be used by four to six single adults while agencies help them locate long-term housing. There will also be supportive services during the day to assist them with problems, such as finding employment, along with training in life skills and counseling.
Well, it has certainly been a long time coming. But finally it looks as if something good can come out of the problem. The failure of the government to increase the minimum wage to the point where people can actually make a living has long been a part of the problem. Parents who have to work two or three jobs in order to support their families have risked having their children go astray simply because they are left too long on their own. In this case, as a society we’re losing more than we are gaining.
Unfortunately, we have reached a place where we have people who no longer seem to have any concern or consideration for those who through no fault of their own have fallen on hard times. Somehow, we are going to have to regulate the cost of living. We cannot continue to allow some people to earn less than it requires to make a living. Somehow, we are going to have to equalize our pay scale; otherwise we risk becoming a Third World country.
Some Americans are beginning to see our country as losing its democratic traditions. We are too fast becoming a middle-class to less-than-middle-class society. And the terrible thing about that is, some Americans seem to think that is appropriate.
Hopefully, with this new initiative in treating the problem of homelessness, we can get ahead of the problem. Unfortunately, we continue to lose ground with our tainted educational system. We need to get back to our old way of teaching where nobody leaves any class until he or she has learned the material. If we don’t watch out, we’re going to be the dumbest students in the class. At that rate, we’ll have to go to other countries to find teachable students.
America, America, oh, where did we go wrong?
Rose M. Nolen writes a weekly column for the Missourian. You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.