During the season of politics, candidates are taking sides on issues ranging from foreign affairs to the economy to immigration. And yet, I have not heard one word from any candidate — national or local — on what I think is the most shameful issue in America today.
According to a recent New York Times article by Craig Blankenhorn, there are 1.6 million homeless children in the United States. This is equal to the entire population of Vermont, Washington, D.C. and Wyoming combined. Can you imagine if not one person in these three areas had a home?
“Infants, young children and teenagers are living on the streets,” Blankenhorn observed, “in hotel rooms and in their parents’ cars, forsaken by bad luck.”
Unfortunately, this tragedy has proven that it can happen in the richest nation on earth, and, simultaneously, it is possible for political candidates to simply ignore this issue.
According to the VERA Institute for Justice, there are currently some 1.2 million prisoners in American prisons. The direct cost for this is $39 billion or $32,500 per prisoner every year, and this does not include the costs for their lawyers and medical needs. According to NEWSMAX, the 2012 election campaigns will cost in excess of $8 billion. A “Rover” to Mars costs $2.6 billion to study extraterrestrial rocks and water.
As a nation, where are our priorities? Where is our will? Where is our compassion?
All this aside, it is easy to find someone to blame. However, that does not make the situation any better for children facing homelessness. We can easily point fingers, turn away and let these children grow up disenfranchised, without hope and traumatized by circumstances they did not create. Or we can take decisive action. Now.
This is not a political issue: it is a humanitarian crisis. I am prepared to vote for the first candidate that pledges unconditionally to find a way to house all of our American children.
Harry Leibowitz, Co-Founder
World of Children