Director’s Corner - Is ending poverty too big a goal?
A few days ago, our board had a great discussion of what it means to have “taking action to end poverty and homelessness” as part of our mission. We’re in planning mode and recently asked for feedback on this. The response from our friends was mixed.
To some, the goal of ending poverty and homelessness seemed more than a tad grandiose. While we’re at it, we should toss in bringing about world peace as well. Why not? This objection, however, is easily met. We never said we’d actually end poverty, just that we’d take action toward that end.
To others, the goal is too important to abandon just because it’s big and unreasonable. The day that we concede the inevitability of poverty and homelessness is the day we become resigned to injustice. “Taking action to barely mitigate the worst excesses of capitalism,” while perhaps more accurate, just doesn’t have the same punch.
For still others, ending poverty and homelessness felt like too narrow a goal. Can this goal be accomplished without working toward the broader goal of economic justice? There are those who would say yes, we can! Ending homelessness, the theory goes, is a matter of aligning homeless people with housing, and if one narrows the definition enough, the logic seems to hold.
For example, HUD says the number of “chronically homeless people,” which in some circles is routinely conflated with homelessness itself, was a mere 110,917 people in 2009, a 10 percent decrease from 2008. Not bad for a year when many Americans lost their jobs, houses or both. This year, homelessness in Seattle reportedly decreased by 11 percent. This, of course, was limited to the number of people literally counted out on the street in the middle of a January night, but that detail is easy to miss.
So, in theory, one takes the 111,000 homeless, builds 11,000 units of housing a year over, oh, say ten years, and voil
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.