Tag Archives: poverty

Helping the last become first…

The last statistic I read showed that there were about 650,000 homeless people in America.

You could build them all tiny homes. Now costs vary, but for our purposes, we could use $15,000 as a good marker. Get you a loft bed, a tiny kitchen, maybe a pullout bed, and a bathroom. Doing the math, construction would cost 9.75 billion dollars. Factor in some land costs, let’s say 25-35 billion dollars as an initial one time investment.

Now we’ve got enough homes to house folks. But we have to keep them there.

For poor families, it’s not a problem. We’ll let them rent to own and not charge them interest. Let them pay 20% of their income a month back to the government to buy their homes in full.

For folks with drug problems and mental health problems, we’re going to need to invest in community centers and clinics to help them manage or overcome their addictions and get them any psychiatric help they need. So we’ll need to spend initial construction costs on those buildings, plus an annual investment in social workers and doctors.

Let’s say 1.5 million to build a community center in our tiny house neighborhood.  Another 1.5 to build our clinics. Now our homeless population is going to be spread out. So we’ll need to account for that. Let’s say we’ll need 500 of each. That would be another 1.5 billion dollars. Throw in land costs and we can probably bump that up to 20 billion, just to be conservative.

So far, we’ve had one major investment in America for the total of 45-55 billion dollars. That’s less than ten percent of the annual Defense budget and it’s only for one year and we will slowly recoup some of that money as poor families pay their rent to own fees monthly.

Now we’ll need to staff them. So we’re probably looking at another 10-20 billion in annual costs to start. There are also maintenance fees, but we can save costs there by hiring able bodies community members to do basic maintenance and earn money and credit towards purchasing your own house too.

We can plan public transportation routes near these tiny home communities to allow folks to travel into other neighborhoods where they can spend some of the money they’ve earned, we can build small parks, provide Wi-Fi to the community, plan spaces for community gardens, and have a farmer’s market. None of this would cost that much.

We can hire local artists to paint murals or decorate houses. Have the community centers hold job training, ESL, and basic financial classes.

Like I said, as a one-time outlay we could probably do all of this and more with 10% of the Pentagon budget for one year and maintain it for 40-60% of that cost annually. I don’t know for sure, I would have to have some professional accountants run the exact numbers. Right now, we’re just guestimating.

But that wouldn’t be that much to pay to end homelessness and bring a better life to those 650,000 people, would it? I don’t think so. We’d still be outspending the rest of the world on “defense” by an obscene amount.

But we won’t do that. Because of people who view poverty as a moral failing. Judgmental people who have never had to skip a meal or delay paying a bill or dig through couches to find loose change to go buy ramen because their job doesn’t pay them enough. Or maybe they have. And instead of letting that experience soften their hearts they get angry and they think, “I had to pull myself up. Why should I give them a hand? Why should I pay to give them a break? No one did that for me.”

Maybe you’re right.  Maybe no one did that for you. Maybe your family couldn’t. Maybe your friends didn’t.

But don’t you wish they had? Wouldn’t you have wanted someone… anyone… to come by in the lowest moment of your life and offer you their hand?

Instead of being the Christian who would scream, “It’s not fair!” maybe we could be the kind of people who rejoice that we’re helping the last become the first and giving people a chance to live better. Maybe not all of them would. But some would. And aren’t they worth it?

We’d be doing the work of the Kingdom of Heaven.

But I don’t think we will. Instead, I think a lot of people… a lot of Christians would be pouting on the sidelines complaining about their tax dollars going to Those people.

We could do nice things. We just don’t want to.

Who would Jesus starve?

I’m guessing most of these Republicans will be going to their churches on Sunday worshipping a Man who was poor and homeless, proclaimed by men who demanded kind actions towards the poor, and none of them will admit the hypocrisy of their own deeds.

Lawmakers voted Tuesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would cut thousands of low-income Missourians off of a federal welfare program.

Meantime, Nixon vetoed a separate bill that would cut the amount of time a laid-off worker could collect jobless benefits to 13 weeks from 20 weeks. Republican leaders spoke confidently that they could override that veto, too.

Tuesday’s override vote on the welfare bill took place in the House, with 113 lawmakers voting in favor and 32 voting against. The Senate voted to override Monday evening on a 25-9 vote.

The welfare bill lowers the lifetime limit for how long families can stay on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program from five years to three years and nine months. It also imposes sanctions on a family receiving benefits if an adult does not comply with work requirements. And it requires individuals to be working or looking for a job before getting food stamps.

The Department of Social Services estimates that roughly 9,500 people — 6,400 of whom are children — would lose their access to benefits in the first year.

Let’s go to the Man Himself:

 24″But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. 25″Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

Or maybe His brother:

Listen,my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man…


15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

Rick Perry, the Bible, and the poor.

Fred Clark explains why Rick Perry is misquoting Jesus in reference to the poor.

Notwithstanding his explanation and thorough exegesis, I think it’s also important to say that Jesus said in context that ‘the poor you will always have with you, but me you will not always have…” meaning not that you shouldn’t give a damn about helping the poor or minimizing human suffering, but that the disciples should give the lady a break for choosing to worship and honor Him and His pending death and burial.

Of course, none of this matters to Perry. He doesn’t particularly care if he mutilates scripture to bolster his preferred economic policies that have led to being fifth in the nation in the number of workers earning the minimum wage or less and first in the nation when it comes to the number of uninsured citizens.


From the ‘greatest nation on Earth’ and a country ‘founded on Christian beliefs’ comes more cheery news

The number of homeless children in the U.S. has surged in recent years to an all-time high, amounting to one child in every 30, according to a comprehensive state-by-state report that blames the nation’s high poverty rate, the lack of affordable housing and the impacts of pervasive domestic violence.

Titled “America’s Youngest Outcasts,” the report being issued Monday by the National Center on Family Homelessness calculates that nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013. The number is based on the Department of Education’s latest count of 1.3 million homeless children in public schools, supplemented by estimates of homeless pre-school children not counted by the DOE.

Given the Congress we all just elected, I’m guessing nobody gives a damn about this. Or they think the solution to is to repeal child labor laws and repealing the minimum wage laws so the homeless kids can find full time jobs making $2.50 an hour.

And once again, I’d also like to mention that we spend more on ‘Defense’ than the next 26 countries combined to the tune of 640 billion dollars.

Somehow I’d like to think we could find some money to spend on the common good of helping children find a goddamn home.

The Least of These…

I really shouldn’t be surprised anymore by this, but I am.

This Friday, 48 million people — including more than 21 million children — will see their food stamp (SNAP) benefits reduced. Instead of receiving an average of a buck-fifty for a meal, individuals in need of food assistance will get about $1.40. For families of three, the cut means they will receive $29 less in food stamps every month.

Tianna Gaines-Turner recently described the impact of cuts like these in written testimony she submitted to Congressman Paul Ryan’s War on Poverty hearing: “Cutting a person’s benefits by $10, or $15, or $20 might not seem like a lot to legislators, but it would cut meals out completely for families like mine.”

Families like hers are families with two working parents earning low wages while trying to support three children. Ms. Gaines-Turner is employed by a childcare provider and her husband works the deli counter at a grocery store.

The SNAP cuts come at a time when 49 million people — about 14.5 percent of all US households — are food insecure. That means they don’t have enough money to meet their basic food needs, and don’t necessarily know where their next meal is coming from. The Institute of Medicine already demonstrated the inadequacies of the SNAP allotment for hungry families even before this cut.

But, we’re a Christian nation, right?

But it’s okay, we’re a “Christian” nation after all…

Brought to you by the Pro-Life party:

New independent estimates Monday night show that as many as 3.8 million people would lose their food stamp benefits in 2014 under a House Republican plan to tighten eligibility and end state waivers for able-bodied adults who are unemployed.

The Congressional Budget Office numbers paint a darker picture than the GOP has admitted to thus far. The contradictions – which continued to play out Monday afternoon — add to the tensions surrounding what is already a bitter fight over the nutrition title of the House farm bill.

According to the CBO, 1.7 million people would be forced off the rolls in the coming year if the state waivers are repealed as proposed by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Another 2.1 million would be dropped in 2014 as a result of the tighter eligibility rules backed by the GOP.

In both cases, the impact would decline as the economy improves and more jobs become available. But on average, CBO estimates that a total of 2.8 million people would lose their benefits over the next decade, and another 850,000 households will see an average reduction of about $90 a month in benefits.


A good article

on Welfare that (once again) I wish I had written. (Language warning)

Compare and contrast

In case you were wondering how the banking sector was doing these days after destroying the world’s economy, making life sufficiently miserable for millions, and absconding with an as yet unknown amount of taxpayer subsidies to keep them afloat, followed by a concerted effort by Republicans and Democrats to protect the whole shebang from anything resembling a criminal investigation and lengthy jail sentences. Turns out, having friends in Washington when you’re con job explodes in your face can be very profitable.

The six biggest U.S. banks are projected to post a 35 percent increase in first-quarter profit. That may fail to prolong an 18-month rally in their shares as the firms struggle to boost revenue.

The banks are set to report $19.9 billion in combined net income.


The statistics are staggering. According to the Census Bureau, the nation’s poverty rate is at its highest level in decades. More than 46 million people — one in seven Americans — are living below the poverty line, 16.4 million of them children. Another 30 million Americans are just a lost job or serious illness away from joining them. And in the last six years alone, more than 20 million people have joined the ranks of those relying on food stamps to get by.

But I’m sure if we only cut Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare spending and gave JP Morgan another tax break, that those 46 million folks would be right as rain.

The new homeless

are the disappearing Middle Class, now forced from their homes (owned or rented) and staying in cheap hotels.

Hotels have always served people who need an off-the-record place to live—sex workers, drug dealers—and the Ramada has its share of people who are hiding out. (Bounty hunters come to the hotel so often that the weeklies know their names and say hi.) But in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the Ramada’s clientele shifted away from such regulars to include suburban families who had been used to staying in hotels only on vacations. Many of the families still had incomes. Some had long been struggling members of the working class, fighting to stay better than broke; others had fallen suddenly out of the middle class.

Across the country, suburban poverty rose by more than half in the first decade of the new century. Families now find themselves navigating landscapes that were built around wealth: single-family houses that are sold, not rented; too few apartment buildings; and government agencies hidden at the far edge of the suburban ring, more responsive to trash-pickup complaints than rising hunger rates.

Trickle-down economics has been the worst lie this country has embraced in some time. You do not alleviate poverty and suffering by pursuing policies that increasingly concentrates wealth in the hands of a small cadre of influential people.

4 things politicians will never understand about poor people

This is brilliant and I wish I had written it. Language warning.

Poverty is a hot topic for politicians, but it seems like every time they open their mouths about the subject, stupid falls out. There’s a huge part of me that wants to grab them by their orphan skin lapels and scream reason into their preciously oblivious brains, but the logical side of me knows it won’t matter. There are some things they will just never understand. Things like …

#4. Poor Does Not Equal Unemployed