In a recent meeting of individuals who coordinate evening meals for Hope Haven, DeKalb County’s homeless shelter, we were told they are in need of 60 to 70 meals every night.
I was 11 years old in 1964 when President Lyndon Johnson declared a “War on Poverty.” Twenty-two years later Comic Relief was launched to end homelessness.
Today, over 45 million Americans live in poverty and our local homeless shelter has an annual budget in excess of $1 million -- which does not include the hundreds of dollars churches are spending to provide meals. Federal programs to address issues related to poverty cost tax payers approximately $800 billion a year.
A new report by the Heartland Alliance makes clear the connection between poverty and all types of violence. Those who live in poverty are more likely to live and struggle with diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other illnesses.
In my lifetime we have gone from talking about ending hunger and homelessness in America to making it an annual accepted line-item on our budgets. Until we find the individual and political will to actually end poverty, we will always have issues of hunger, homelessness, violence, health, and social problems that come from people who are forced to struggle to survive in a land of plenty.
We can address the root causes or continue to treat the symptoms. Together we can end poverty, but do we have the will to do so.
I am Dan Kenney, and this is my perspective.