MuniLand

The forgotten American homeless

CBS’s 60 Minutes showed a heartbreaking story last night that described several homeless families with children in Florida. The segment, entitled “Hard Times Generation: Families living in cars” (embedded above), detailed families living at the absolute edge of economic survival as they slept in their cars, in hotel rooms and with neighbors. In a deflating economy with few available jobs, they are the invisible underbelly. Big kudos to 60 Minutes for bringing their plight to our attention.

In 1933, a freshly inaugurated Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a paralyzed nation with the following words:

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for.

By global standards, America is very rich, but we need to ask if our priorities are in the right place. In June 2011 the Florida Council on Homelessness issued their annual report to the governor and legislature. They reported (page 3):

Muni sweeps: How much job creation?

Job creation or program pass-through?

The Congressional Budget Office has published a new report entitled “Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output from January 2011 Through March 2011.” It makes some large claims about how many jobs stimulus funds have created:

Various recipients of ARRA funds (most recipients of grants and loans, contractors, and subcontractors) are required to report, after the end of each calendar quarter, the number of jobs funded through ARRA. The law also requires CBO to comment on those reported numbers.

During the first quarter of 2011, recipients reported, ARRA funded more than 571,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs.

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