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March 27, 2013

ANDERSON: Ending homelessness:One way or another

Editor’s note: This is the last installment a series of guest columns from Barbara Anderson on poverty and homelessness in the area. Read previous columns at


Many of the people we have served at Haven House Services Inc. over the years return to work, live on their own and raise their families. Some we never see again, while others come back to volunteer, to make donations, to hire other homeless people, and some come back forever because we have to bury them.

Living in poverty is hard — it is daily wondering how to pay the bills, stressing out over what you are going to feed the kids tonight, buying toilet paper, and even if you have the money for that. It is paying the rent one month, the light bill the next. It is taking your medication every three days to stretch it out long enough to last but too long to do any good. Most importantly, it is the strongest level of survival we can make with the exception of a front-line soldier. 

There was and is a War on Poverty. The problem is that those who created that term and funded those programs don’t exist anymore. In fact, neither do many of the programs or services. Today, we have to worry how to cut 5 percent from the Head Start program locally while in Indianapolis there will be a lottery for the children of the Head Start Program. A lottery. Children and their parents will “pick numbers” and if there number is called, they will either receive services or not. 

What have we come to when we make a lottery of the education of our children, those most vulnerable children, and the poorest of the poor? 

The Section 8 program has been frozen at the state level, which means the burden will now fall to local housing authorities to house the poor in totality. Sequestration is here and it is affecting us. It will affect us even more in the future as we find out the totality of the cuts. How can we begin to end homelessness when we can’t begin to address it without resources?

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