Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Let's Start At the Very Beginning...Simple as ABC

Crossing the miles, in Tillie, my road-weary motorhome, I've been heartened by countless courageous homeless families and kids willing to share their stories. HEAR US Inc., my unconventional one-woman nonprofit, gives me a venue to share what I've learned about homelessness, particularly that of families, across the land. What I have learned, the ABCs of homelessness, has come mostly from those who experience life without a home.

Recently I enjoyed a reunion with a family I met and filmed last June for Littlest Nomads, our latest short film on the all-too-invisible issue of homeless babies and toddlers. Yolanda, Ken and boys, a delightful Long Island family, had been housed after their catastrophic period of homelessness. Sadly, they're homeless again. But they proudly sat in the front row of our Littlest Nomads screening.

I can't imagine what it would be like to have your image, and that of your homeless family, splashed on the big screen in front of strangers. This family's courage, and others like them, gives much needed voice and visibility to homelessness. Unbelievably some, including our elected officials and policy makers, still don't understand that MILLIONS of homeless families and youth comprise the bulk of the homeless population.

Surging poverty continues to ravage families. It doesn't take much to kick a family into the homeless abyss of destitution. And poverty-creation is now imbedded in our dysfunctional "welfare" systems of government assistance. HUD, the main federal agency charged with housing people, continues to fight our efforts to improve the way they count homelessness.

I watched this family as their images came up on the screen. The kids were smiling. Dad and Mom were somber, and Yolanda's tears could not be hidden.

Sadly, as more families tumble into deep poverty and homelessness, resources to help them are being slashed. Federal poverty policies are pathetic, creating more poverty than they're preventing.  The rich are undoubtedly getting richer.   Proof abounds that homelessness causes severe problems in homeless babies and toddlers. And bureaucrats seem determined to perpetuate homelessness.

At the end of Littlest Nomads, Yolanda, Ken and kids belt out the ABC's song, an annoying repetitive tune I included for one reason. Ending homelessness is like learning your ABCs. It seems difficult, but if you try you can do it. Yolanda, Ken, and countless more families could point out the basics to our government's leaders.

If you want to do something to help, urge your Congressperson to co-sponsor The Homeless Children and Youth Act, HR 32. Simple, just go to this link. It will help HUD rethink their approach to homeless families. They can use the remedial lesson. Makes me want to do a Julie Andrew's Sound of Music version of Do-Re-Mi. That'll get 'em.

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