We interupt our usual snarky blog entry for an actual real and important message. Crazy, huh?
Everyday when I drive home from work, I pretty much take the same route.
I usually pass Homeless Veteran (HV) at the corner of 123 and International Drive. He’s an older fellow, probably about 60. He stands there with his cane, and limps along next to cars waiting at the light, hoping for some change. I usually give him a buck or 2 if I’m anywhere near him when I get stopped at the light, and then I’m hurredly off, back into the trials and tribulations of my own life. Where does he go off to? What does he use my pocket change for?
After I get off the GW parkway, I drive past Homeless Park. Maybe you’ve seen it before, maybe not – but there’s a small little grassy area up above the road between the E-Street expressway, heading towards the Rock Creek Parkway/K Street. It’s a patch of grass that, unless you were looking, you’d miss it everytime. It has a nice tree or 2, and is home to a small little homeless community with a couple of tents and other items you might see at a campsite. At about 50mph, it looks like there are about 3 or 4 people who live up there, invisible to the rest of the world, yet only 100 yards from the Kennedy Center and vast wealth.
After I follow the highway around to the left, there’s a bridge the I pass under (I believe it’s the Whitehurst Freeway). I have a choice to go right to K Street, or left to the Rock Creek Parkway or the Watergate. Right there under the bridge on the left, nestled in by the wall, is a little homemade shelter. It’s a conglomerate of boards, pieces of plastic, grocery carts, and whatever else you might find abandoned on the street. Who lives here? Why?
Poverty and homelessness is right here in front of us. Everday.
- 1 out of 5 DC residents live at or below the poverty line – that’s the 3rd highest rate in the Country!
- More than 3 out of 10 children in DC live below the poverty line, and 54% of of DC’s children live in low-income families, which is the highest rate in the Country.
- Ther are 10,000 individuals and families homeless in DC at any one moment
Most times we ignore it. It isn’t a pleasant thing to face. It seems like, as a society, it’s been beaten into our brains that we must ignore things that are unsightly.
We are also wary of being taken advantage of.
Is that guy on the corner really homeless, or is he just lazy?
Is that guy really a veteran, or just a drunk looking for his next beer?
It’s a sad state of affairs. I don’t think there is any one out there happy with this, but we also don’t do anything about it either. “I don’t have enough time.”
You see it, and then you are on with your day.
Out of sight, out of mind.
Capitalism is sort of like Darwinism. It’s the survival of the fittest, and well, unfortunately, a good majority of our homeless aren’t the most mentally or physically fit. Does that mean we let them rot away into nothingness? Is that what they deserve?
So, what do we do?
I’m not sure there is any easy answer for this. There isn’t a lets-sign-a-$700-billion-bill-to-erradicate-homelessness-and-poverty-solution out there. It isn’t just about the money. It’s about us. It’s about caring, and it’s about action.
Here’s what I think.
- Recognize the issue. The next time you see someone on the street corner, or pass someone sleeping on a grate, perhaps you can take an extra moment out of your day and consider their plight.
- Make it personal. Humans are spoiled and selfish. It seems as if we are adverse to taking action unless we see how the problem affects us personally. So the next step is figuring out how this problem affects you. Do you know how many homeless or impoverished people live in your neighborhood? More than you might think….
- Take action. It could be helping the guy out on the corner with an extra buck. It could also be donating food and clothing to a local shelter. Click here for volunteering opportunities and
Poverty and homelessness might not be as funny as bad food or stupid people, but it impacts all of our lives everyday, and I think it is something that is worth blogging about. Definitely.
It’s Blog Action Day – make a difference!