Bob Cropf

The cost of doing nothing

In poverty on March 11, 2009 at 5:03 AM

The devastation of the economic crisis grows every day. While we’ve become accustomed to hearing about plunging stocks, layoffs and bank bail-outs, we don’t see the media focus as frequently on the human costs that these economic events portend. That these costs are tremendous and growing there can be no doubt. One example of the “hidden costs” of the crisis we’re in comes from this article on a new report issued by the National Center on Family Homelessness. According to the report, one in fifty kids in the US is homeless. This is the worst figure since the Great Depression. What makes the report even more alarming is that its data comes from 2005-2006 before the downturn. Things are probably much worse today. Expect to see more stories like this one in today’s NY Times as more families lose their jobs and homes. The article goes on to question our priorities:

“It is unacceptable for one child in the United States to be homeless for even one day,” it said, slamming the US government and media for ignoring the plight of homeless children while doling out huge sums of money to help “grossly overpaid bankers, captains of industry and carmakers” in 2008.

“What does it say about our country that we are willing to bail out banks but not our smallest most vulnerable citizens?” the report asked.

In addition to tallying up the lost fortunes from investments gone bad, all of the “underwater” mortgages and foreclosures, and the sharp drop-off in the value of once blue-chip stocks, the report reminds us that we need to also consider the cost of doing nothing to reverse the situation of our most vulnerable citizens, homeless kids.

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  1. One of the most direct impacts is on education. Kids who are homeless are often moving from school to school if not school district to school district. They miss out on things, important things like basic math concepts because they covered it in school A before the child got there and after the child left in school B. The churn disrupts the school community and the classroom environment. And imagine trying to study in a motel room with little brothers and sisters playing… there will be long term psychological and social consequences but there will also be long term economic/productivity consequences too.

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