Homeless In America? Here’s a Bus Ticket, Now GTF Out of Town

Homeless_in_america_3b

This is one of the things I don’t understand about George Bush’s Amerika. We have billions of dollars and thousands of lives to throw at illegal wars, but no money to help homeless people (no money for healthcare and insurance either, but that’s another story). We have Exxon making obscene amounts of money as it, along with countless other Bush buddies, profits from one of the most calculated crimes in modern history. They saw what happened…


…to the price of oil, and thus profits, with Gulf War #1 and decided they’d do it again, only on a grand scale. They did it. Who benefited? Follow the money. The energy and military industrial complexes. Anyway, now I’m getting off on a rant. Let’s bring it back on topic.

Let’s catch a glimpse of what it’s like to be homeless in Bush’s Amerika, a place where they’d rather have you sleep in a field, on a sewer grate or under an overpass than spend a dime helping you do anything other then get the fuck out of town. It’s even worse than that in the winter, where they’d rather let you freeze to death than give you a warm bed. The following article says there are 750,000 homeless people in America. I bet it’s a lot more.

Before we get to the article, let’s run a few numbers:

I came across this article recently mentioning that Exxon was spending $120 million to build luxury worker housing in a cold and desolate part of Canada for its well-paid oil workers ($172,000 per year). That works out to $48,000 per worker for housing that will last decades. And that’s constructed in the middle of nowhere, where it’s expensive as hell to get supplies, equipment and workers. Don’t forget it’s cold as shit there, too, so you have to use more expensive and better insulating materials. And don’t forget this is housing for guys making close to $200,000 per year, guys who aren’t going to accept some crowded, crap housing. This is resort-style housing, with private rooms, flat-screen TVs, maid service, etc.

Ok, now lets use that $48,000 per room per worker number, heck lets even round it up to a nice even $50,000. Now let’s take the “750,000 homeless people” figure from the article below and round it up to a million homeless people in America. Now let’s multiply those two numbers together to see how much it would cost to build Exxon-quality luxury worker housing for every homeless person in America. Incidentally, Exxon made the largest corporate profit in HISTORY last year (see my post here). Anyway, that multiplication works out to $50 billion. Now lets compare that to the cost of the Iraq war, which is currently over $400 billion and counting (see here for a running tab).

So for the what we — American taxpayers — have paid so far for the Iraq war, we could have bought every single homeless person in America one primary residence plus seven vacation residences. Or maybe everyone gets just one residence and we have $350 billion left over to provide healthcare for every single person in America… Plus money left over to invest in conservation and clean energy projects… Plus money for education… The list goes on and on. It’s crazy. What’s even crazier is that most people don’t seem to care. It’s like everybody is asleep or something. Or plugged into some kind of cozy Matrix, submissive cogs for the machine. Wake up, America! Do something!!

Ok, now on to the article. Cheers!

From the March 4, 2007, Bozeman Daily Chronicle:

Report highlights homeless issue
By DAVE RICHARDSON Chronicle Staff Writer

New data released by the federal government is shedding light on a problem many still don’t want to acknowledge.

According to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Housing And Urban Development this past week, roughly 750,000 people are estimated to be homeless in America.

In Montana, 1,343 people are estimated to be homeless, the report said.

The federal data was released on the heels of a community meeting this week, sponsored by the Rev. Paul Thomas, who runs the HIS Soup mobile soup kitchen in Bozeman. He called the meeting to talk about his idea for a Christian rescue mission-homeless shelter in Bozeman, possibly to be built on and adjacent to the Gallatin County Food Bank.

Although the issue of what to do for Bozeman’s homeless population has been debated for years, the city does not have a homeless shelter.

Without dedicated services to help them, life for the homeless – often forced to camp out under freeway overpasses and in fields throughout the city – is tough, especially in winter. Many of them who seek help are simply given a bus ticket out of town, and sent on their way.

The death of Bryan Dennis, 48, a transient who was found Jan. 18 frozen to death in the cab of a U-Haul rental truck, brought the issue into sharp focus in recent weeks.

Carol Townsend, executive director of the Greater Gallatin United Way, said the HUD numbers probably underestimate the actual number of homeless people in the state.

“We don’t trust those numbers, especially because it’s winter,” Townsend said. “We may not be able to find all the places where they are holed up.”

At the meeting, Thomas said resistance from the community has delayed for too long what he sees as an inevitable, much-needed step.

“We are going to have to prove to the city this will be a positive thing, and not a negative thing,” Thomas said.

Other shelters – mostly Christian rescue missions – exist in Billings, Missoula, Great Falls and Butte, and are, by all accounts, full to overflowing.

Greg Mash, assistant program director for the Billings Rescue Mission, said his facility had taken in almost 300 individuals, mostly single men, since Jan 1.

“And we don’t see everything,” Mash said. “If we’ve had close to 300 here in that time, there’s more out there. And that’s just our immediate area.”

Services for homeless families are even harder to come by than services for homeless individuals. According to the report, 177 families in Montana – comprising 535 adults and children – are homeless.

Bozeman’s Family Promise, an interfaith organization has developed a program to help homeless families that have no criminal history or severe mental illnesses.

Families stay for a week at a time at one of nine host churches in the area, with nine other churches offering support services, and receive life-skills training to help them become self-sufficient, according to executive director Gloria Edwards.

Family Promise has been up and running just shy of one year. In that time the group has served 12 homeless families.

“For families there’s a serious need because there’s no affordable housing here,” Edwards said. “They’re kind of invisible because you just don’t see them. A lot of homeless families we see are living with other families, or in their cars or staying with their friends. Sometimes they move every day.”

Edwards said there is a growing need for such services. Family Promise is running at capacity, and needs more host churches to keep up.

The stress of homelessness takes an especially heavy toll on young children, and can result in severe developmental difficulties, Edwards added.

According to the report, 288 children unaccompanied by families are homeless in the state.

Townsend, whose agency gets a paltry $24,000 a year from the federal government specifically to address emergency housing and shelter needs in Gallatin County, said prevention is key.

“What we do as much as possible is to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place,” Townsend said. “It’s much more resource effective and cost effective to keep people in their homes in the first place.”

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