In reality any of us could become homeless. Just look at Chris Gardner, Wall Street mogul, now famous for his Pursuit of Happyness movie and book. He was once homeless. Tyler Perry, author, screen writer, actor and producer is now worth more than $100 million. Seven years before his breakthrough, he was out on the street with no where to go. There are countless veterans who valiantly served our country now living out their lives as homeless. If these exceptional persons could become homeless, any of us could go down that same path. It only takes a little bad luck and a reversal of fortune.
So I find it perplexing that Mayor Fenty chose to cut $20 million from the services for the homeless. He chose to do so in total disregard for Councilman Wells’ pleas to cut anywhere but the homeless services. Councilman Wells chairs the Committee which oversees funds for the homeless. And this was really a double whammy for the homeless. Mayor Fenty cut in the same week funds for the House of Ruth which serves and shelters victims of domestic violence.
These cuts may leave many out in the cold for the upcoming winter months. Organizations for the homeless believe at least 480 women and 100 families are at risk of facing evictions from temporary and transitional shelter for the homeless. Then there are almost another 300 families who are on the waiting list for a homeless shelter. So where are the homeless supposed to go? Imagine being evicted from a temporary homeless shelter. There is no where else to go. That is rock bottom.
The District of Columbia is more than mortar, monuments and museums. We are families, friends, children and women. And yes, unfortunately some of us are homeless. In DC we talk about human rights. What could be more human rights than sheltering the homeless? Yet, this is more than a human, social and moral issue. DC has a legal obligation to provide shelter to the homeless during the winter freezing months. In the coming months, DC may be in violation of its own law. The law was intended to protect and save lives. Nothing is more precious than human life. We go to extreme lengths to save lives except apparently if you are homeless.
It is not cost effective to make such deep cuts when so many people are facing foreclosures, losing jobs, pensions and savings and ending unemployment benefits. These cuts may cost lives. That price is too high for even DC to pay. So Mr. Mayor, please have a heart for the homeless.