Street Roots editorial
Heard any bad news lately?
Seems like that’s all there is these days. From the abhorrently tragic to the flat-out infuriating, 2012’s wrap up was a challenge to our spirits.
Indeed, positive milestones seldom grab the headlines like the negative, and it’s easy to lose sight of what we have gained, which is the first mistake toward losing it all.
But here are just a few things to keep in mind:
In the big picture, the national initiative to house homeless veterans is working, getting tens of thousands of veterans off the streets in the past three years.
Fresh approaches have resulted in rapid rehousing programs that intervene with families in crisis before homelessness sets in. We’re now seeing more preventative programs like these take hold, breaking the cycle of homelessness and the aggravating factors of substance abuse, mental health crises and so much more.
Locally we start the year with a fresh mayor and a reinvigorated City Council that has proven itself committed to keeping people from falling through the cracks. It has also pledged to work more in tandem with county leaders to plug the holes between individual and family support services. Let’s hope that message resonates in Washington, where so much remains in the balance, not just for people experiencing homelessness, but also for families that have a disabled member, or have been out of work, or care for an elderly parent.
And quietly, the city has worked to preserve the affordability of apartment buildings, long after their federal contract expired. As a result, hundreds of low-income residents — nearly all elderly or disabled — are able to stay in their homes.
Far less noticed in our city are the thousands of workers who actually make up the safety net. They include the men and women who are out in the dark of night visiting camps, and making sure people remain connected – and alive. They are the people going the extra mile to ensure someone gets their disability insurance, or that a family can navigate state and national services toward stability.
This past year hundreds of individuals and families had their lives restored with stable housing. This coming year, hundreds more will get off the streets.
We’ve celebrated with people marking a month, a year or more of sobriety. This year many more of us will do the same, standing shoulder to shoulder with our friends and neighbors: Families have reunited, classes have resumed, and independence has been restored.
Looking ahead to this year, we must keep our eyes on the success stories and the positive movements happening on many fronts. Because it is a mistake to think that poverty and homelessness are the end game: we do so at a high cost to all that is gained on a daily basis.
To be sure, there is always room for criticism – and we embrace the discussion. But let’s also give pause for the people who live the lesson that together we have, can and will continue to make a difference.