It’s hard to say what is the most indicting aspect of the profit system. One trend, however, the dumping of children onto the street in the richest country on the planet, certainly is among the most horrific.
The National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research produced a 2014 report card on child homelessness in the U.S.
Not only are 2.5 million children homeless across the country, but this number represents an overall 8 percent increase nationally between 2012 and 2013—more than one-fifth of the states including Washington, D.C., report more than a 10 percent increase. The trend is toward more homelessness, not less.
This report was gathered from over 30 established datasets using more than 30 variables. In other words, it’s not an estimate nor a report from some renegade research group.
The report not only details, state by state, the epidemic of homelessness among children, but it presents the leading statistically significant causes: high poverty, lack of affordable housing, impact of the recession, racism, challenges of single parenting, and trauma such as domestic violence (order according to the report).
The 2007 Great Recession is listed as central in the report, as in its wake there has been tremendous long-term unemployment. When the 2006-7 housing bubble burst—pushing the market value significantly below the price homeowners paid for their homes—it resulted in an unprecedented number of foreclosures and bankruptcies. About six million families lost their homes in this period alone.
Racism fuels homelessness
Racism is the fuel that has exacerbated homelessness in the most disproportionate way. Blacks comprise 12.5 percent of the U.S. population but constitute 38 percent of those in shelters (HUD, 2012). One in four Black families live in poverty in the U.S.
The report also details that child and family homelessness surged during the mid-1980s after Ronald Reagan was elected, whose presidential goals included the smashing of the Soviet Union and any safety net of the U.S. working class.
”There are always going to be people who live in the streets by choice,” said Reagan in a 1988 interview at the closing of his two terms. “They make it their own choice for staying out there.”
So the fact that 2.5 million children are homeless today is not by accident or a mistaken policy—it was an outright plan.
To combat these draconian measures, there are people like Trudee Able-Peterson who have dedicated their lives to advocating for and serving homeless children. Trudee was awarded the National Network for Youth’s Lifetime Achievement Award among many other international and national recognitions.
Trudee told Liberation: “A couple of things come to mind right off the top of my head, like poor school performance. It’s hard to go to school from a shelter. There are dangers like predators in the street. I keep remembering that when I started the street outreach project in New York City, there were so many children running around in the street, in the video arcades. It was costing the city thousands of dollars a month to keep these children and their families in the Carter Hotel, rather than put them into housing.”
Trudee started the StreetWork Project in New York City in 1984 reaching thousands of children with services who had no place to go but to live in Times Square.
The National Center on Family Homelessness report warns that “[w]ithout decisive action and the allocation of sufficient resources, the nation will fail to reach the stated federal goal of ending family homelessness by 2020.”
That decisive action must also include fighting for a system where housing is a guaranteed human right so that no child grows up experiencing the hardships of homelessness.