Securing funding and tax breaks for churches and other groups that provide services to the homeless is direly important to the lives of those in need. It’s a step toward eliminating homelessness across the country. And although I don’t have an ounce of religiousness in me, I don’t distrust churches. If they happen to talk about Jesus and the Bible while they serve up soup, so be it. At least people are getting fed. Besides, having the Bible shoved down my face has never stopped me from getting “Jesus burgers” after a night of drinking in I.V.
But it’s not as if simply dedicating money to the issue is going to solve anything. How naïve it is to believe we can shove money toward homeless people and think all of their problems will go away. To get to the root of the issue, we have to look at why so many people are homeless in the first place.
There are two main reasons why people don’t have a roof over their heads: poverty and a lack of affordable housing. For many, even when they have a job, their wages don’t put them above the poverty line. Penn State University has a site set up dedicated to calculating the living wage for different counties. According to their site, Santa Barbara has a living wage of $12.83. With a minimum wage of $8.00 an hour, the problem is bigger than simply job availability.
However, this should not stop us from encouraging the homeless to get active in the community, even if it’s just doing small tasks like trash pick-up. Involvement and support can inspire these people to get jobs, get back on their feet and set foot in the right direction.
The issue of affordable housing, one that is prominent locally, is one the government can take on. But it’s more than providing a bed for everyone.
We must collectively provide assistance for the homeless. Instead of herding trainsients into church shelters and ignoring them, everyone — from the president down to the public – must engage and help the homeless off the streets.