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July 10, 2013

ANDERSON: Kicking out complacency in ending homelessness \

(Continued)

Moore’s words were callous and irresponsible. It is everyone’s job to end homelessness. It is everyone’s job to feed the hungry. It is everyone’s job to tend to the sick. It is everyone’s job to ensure the safety of the citizenry. No citizen is without some measure of responsibility as long as we are a faith-based society.

I applaud the work of the Louisville Coalition for the Homeless. Out of Jeffersonville's history the Indiana Coalition on Housing and Homeless Issues began; it ended under Mitch Daniels’ administration. We in this state continue to serve with little or no public sector dollars. Last year Haven House Services provided shelter to 1,523 separate individuals from this region. This year, we house between 65 and 70 men, women and children every night. The churches have kept us alive and serving and for that we are eternally grateful, but shelters and tents are not the answer. Permanent affordable housing is. We as a community must plan for that because so far we have not only been remiss but also neglectful. 

We have passed ordinances that prohibit affordable apartments; there is no funding for the poor to speak of; and with little or no political will to address the issue we will continue to see an increase in hunger and homelessness. Louisville, with all its funding and all its planning, is still bursting at the seams with new homeless every day. 

A compassionate community governs for everyone, not just those who own property, have a roof over their heads or are fully employed. We as a community have much to examine. What needs to be done next and how will we get it done are just a few of the questions. How do we end homelessness? We refuse to let it continue. We build permanent housing, we fund Section 8 vouchers, we demand our legislators stop sequestration, we feed our hungry, we tend to our sick, and for every person who enters homelessness we find housing. You don't do that by closing shelters or by closing exits. You do that by making a firm commitment to the eradication of homelessness in your community. Poverty is painful for all those who live in it and who suffer without resources. Through partnering with nonprofits, churches, the private sector and the public sector we can and will end homelessness. The rest of us have been waiting for the political will to catch up. The ball is in your court now.

— Barbara Anderson, of Jeffersonville, is executive director of Haven House Services Inc. Reach her by email at barbanderson_1@yahoo.com

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