In 2019, we visited Washington, D.C. ,our nation's capital in "the land of plenty". And yet among this wealth were many homeless people. The sad memory of an old black lady that rode the shuttle by day to have a place to sleep and keep warm. I have become accustomed to the concept of homelessness as a part of the city’s culture. I saw tents and lean-to's on sidewalks.
This week we took a trip to Savannah, a historical city of wide streets and 24 public squares. It was considered America's first planned city and yet many of the squares are places where the homeless slept and panhandled for money and food. I have always been a compassionate, understanding person. Many of these homeless have had terrible stories that lead to their sleeping on benches and begging for money from every passer-by. Not all but some of these homeless people are simply lazy and do not seem to possess a desire to help themselves out of their current situation. I don't mind helping someone that helps themselves. I saw a guy rummaging through the trash bins behind a bar for recyclable cans. At least he was not just relying on a handout but trying to also earn a little money.
Affordable housing accounts for about 30% of a person's monthly income. Many people on minimum wage could not afford a one-bedroom apartment at "fair market rent". The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness found that fighting homelessness can be expensive. However it is much cheaper to provide housing at a cost of $10,000 per person per year than leaving them homeless which with the cost of law enforcement, jails, hospitals, and other community services would be over $31,000 per person per year.
The government has been part of the problem in many locations by focusing more on creating housing for drug addicted chronic unemployable homeless. It has been biased in funding programs that don't require sobriety, work, or behavior changes as a means to being more self-sufficient. With no accountability and no prohibitions for destructive behavior, it attracts people who seek these benefits. You get the people off the street but are not helping them. Officials should develop mandatory work programs when providing taxpayer funded services and shelter as a requirement. This will better the community and help build pride among these people who desperately need our help.