At President Barack Obama’s press conference, which ended a short while ago, an African American reporter (Kevin Chappell of Ebony Magazine) raised the issue of 1 in 50 children in America now being homeless and sleeping under bridges and tents across the country because of the current economic crisis.
That’s a big, big shame.
Here’s how President Obama responded to the subject of rising homelessness in America:
Iâ€™m heartbroken that any child in America is homeless. The most impoortant thing that I canÂ do on their behalf is to make sure their parents have a job. Thatâ€™s why theÂ recovery package set as a first priority how are we going to save or create 3.5 million jobs. How can we prevent layoffs for teachers, police officers. How can we make sure that we are investing in the infrastructure for the future that can put people back to work right away. How do we make sure that when people lose their jobs that unemployment insurance is extended that they can keep their healthcare.
SoÂ there are a whole host of steps we’ve done to provide a cushion for folks who’ve fallen on very hard times and to try to spur immediate projects that can put people back to work…the homeless problem was bad even when the economy was good.Â Â
Part of the change in attitudes I want to see here in Washington and all across the country is a belief that it’s not acceptable for children and families to be without a roof over their heads in a country as wealthy as ours. And so we’re going to be initiating a range of programs as well to deal with homelessness.
One area in particular I want to focus on is veterans. The rate of homelessness among veterans is much, much higher than for non-veteran populations. And so we’ve got a number of increasesÂ that we’re looking for in our budget on veteran’s fundingÂ directly addresses the issue of homeless veterans that I think can provide some real help.