Why Are People Homeless?

About a month ago, my wife, family, and I drove to Waco, Texas to support our local high school band as they performed in a UIL marching competition.

We arrived in Waco about 10:30am, well before competition time, so that we could go onto the campus of Baylor University to see the bears (BU’s mascots) in their dens and eat our picnic lunch at a large, wooded park just west of downtown.

Nice middle-class things to do on beautiful Saturday day-trip.

But, as we drove through the city center area of Waco on the way to Cameron Park, we saw something not quite so beautiful … a number of homeless people sitting on street curbs at intersections, walking down side-streets, leaning against the walls of the Salvation Army, and riding bicycles with strapped-on milk crates that contained all of the biker’s worldly possessions. 

Our children were overcome by the sight of so many homeless people. They began to ask the kind of questions that you’d expect pre-teen and teen-age kids to ask: “Why are these people homeless?” “Where do they sleep at night?” “Don’t they have families and jobs?” “Where are they from?”

My wife and I tried to answer the kid’s questions as best as we could. Admittedly, the answers were very simple: “Homeless people are homeless for many reasons.” “They either sleep at the mission or on the street.” “They probably have family somewhere.” “They’re from everywhere.”

These simple answers seemed to satisfy our children’s curiosity, but we all know that the issue of poverty and homelessness is a very complex one. And it can be a very emotional and distasteful subject that many in comfortable, middle and upper-class America would rather ignore and not even talk about.

As we drove home after the marching competition later that afternoon I continued to think about my family’s conversation that morning about homelessness and poverty. When we got home I went to the computer and did some searching about poverty and homelessness. There’s alot of information out there and many organizations and community and faith-based groups seeking to bring relief to the impoverished and homeless.

Over the next week or so I would like to share with you some of the information that I am finding out about those who live in the “other” America of poverty and homelessness.

As I do, I hope that you and I will remember that we are not just talking about facts, numbers, and statistics, we are talking about men, women, boys, and girls – people just like you, me, and our families.

(I wrote this post for another blog in October.)

Explore posts in the same categories: Economics, Homelessness, Labor, Politics, Poverty

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