As I See It—We can do better

Kudos to the Patriot for raising the too-often neglected problem of homelessness. In my small town of Carlisle 50 to 70 men, women and children sleep on church floors every night. This includes mothers with infants, grandparents with aching joints, veterans and children—some trying to do homework on church floors.

This is not who we are as a community or a society, and we can do so much better. We know what our homeless neighbors need:

  1. A home. Without the security and stability of a home, everything falls apart. Parents raising children, or recovering from depression, or trying to find a better job, or trying to get healthy cannot succeed without a home. Homelessness leads to multiple health problems and deeper depression and hopelessness, which can lead to addiction and suicide.
  2. A living wage job—so parents can afford a home and support their families. Too many people caught in the flood of homelessness are working, and some with two jobs.

So what can our elected legislators (who have a home, and healthcare and a well-paid job) do about these critical needs?

  1. Increase funding for affordable housing and invest in Housing as Health and Housing First models that mitigate homelessness. And stop the freeze on already scarce housing vouchers, where wait times are counted in years.
  2. Raise the minimum wage to a family sustaining level. Good employers already do this, but many big box stores and fast food chains do not. Hence the high number of working poor families.

And what can you do?

First you can call, write and visit your legislators weekly and insist that they work on the real problems instead of spending our tax dollars meaninglessly—or worse yet—harmfully. Then you can volunteer with groups who are reaching out to our homeless neighbors like Carlisle Cares, Salvation Army, Bethesda Mission, Project Share and Safe Harbour. You can also join with NOAH (New Options for Affordable Housing) in assisting people with affordable apartments and houses along with support for their health, education, employment, nutrition, social and emotional needs and household needs.

We can do better. Speak out and join together to help create the community and society that we want and deserve.

Dr. Jill Sunday Bartoli
Co-chair of NOAH, Carlisle, PA