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Homeless Populations In America–The People The Presidential Debates Ignored

October 20, 2016

There was another “Presidential Debate” this week, again. I use that term loosely here, because I can’t quite stomach Donald Trump and the association of presidential in the same, gag, breath. I read excerpts from the debate from around the web, just to get a pulse of public opinion, and there are two impressions that stand out to me: 1) Hillary won and 2) Neither talked about the issues of some of the poorest Americans, the homeless. Trump boasted that it was good for healthcare to cost more, because fewer people use it. Awesome. Clinton has a drug cost investigation platform.

They “talked” some foreign policy, a.k.a. international trade deals, designed to bring warmth to the Midwest, a region deeply impacted by international trade agreements allowing manufacturing to happen overseas. I find that to be pandering, because there is no way those companies are bringing manufacturing back to the Midwest, so we need to move on to another form of income generating plan, as opposed to listening to fraudsters claiming they are going to bring jobs back, something that won’t ever happen.

I didn’t hear anything about the most deeply poor in America, and it hits close to home because I know people who have been, are homeless, right in our community. It’s like the homeless population is invisible. I wrote recently about a company giving tampons to those in homeless shelters, and I argued that it’s not a women’s rights issue, but human rights issue to have access to menstrual products.

Andy Grammar has a new video out for his “Fresh Eyes” song. It’s about the homeless population in America, and about showing some humanity.

Perhaps if I can put another shout-out there for the homeless, I just want to say that home insecurity is an issue that occurs in every population. Why am I so passionate about this? I know children who have been homeless, teenagers who still are, and in my community, teen boys are at one of the highest risks for being homeless. They get kicked out of apartments with relatives, have been known to find empty school buses to sleep in, have worn the same clothes for days on end just to stay at someone’s home and attend school. And, they are invisible.

When I ask these teenagers what is going on, sometimes they lie, sometimes they cover for one another, staying at one person’s house or another, switching so that the parents don’t become suspicious, telling me they have rides home only for me to find them sitting on the sidewalk hours later, in the cold, because there is nowhere else to go.

If I am disappointed in the debates, it’s not because of any huge surprises. I think Donald Trump is a sociopath. Hillary Clinton is the same person she has always been, offensive, but she keeps standing up. But I am just a little disappointed, not in the evasion, not in the lies, not in the showmanship, but in the ways in which the poor are simply missing from the conversation, invisible, and perhaps, most sadly, irrelevant. Here is a shout-out for the group that can’t mobilize for themselves: when we talk poverty in America, let’s not forget the people who have nowhere to go, the people who can’t vote without an address, who can’t access their Constitutional rights because they are poverty-barred.

I like haircuts, yes, but I sure wish we could extend human rights to the homeless, Constitutional rights, and perhaps we could include them in conversations about poverty in the United States, even just once. Here is my contribution…


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