Homelessness In America: The Journey Home | Israel Bayer | TEDxPortland

The following text contains transcriptions, quotations, excerpts from an original source linked below.

Mr. Bayer fights to give a voice to those who can not afford free speech by focusing his efforts into the street newspaper movement. He is an award-winning housing advocate, journalist, poet, painter and photographer with over 15 years of experience in street newspapers.
Poverty is not new. Modern day homelessness is.
Poverty means the lack of material possessions or money.
Homelessness is simply not having a home.
You can live in poverty but still not have a home.
This country has always had a problem with poverty – and we’ve taken steps – but we’ve largely failed.
In 1933, it’s estimated that more than 1 million people experienced homelessness in America. 
The government responded: 
(1) jobs and affordable housing programs. 
(2) social security. And later on, 
(3) the GI Bill.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that we started to see people on the streets sleeping in our doorways and under bridges en masse.  And from the 1940s until the 1970s, the federal government prioritized housing as a basic infrastructure for our society.   
It wasn’t until the 1980s that we started to see people on the streets sleeping in our doorways and under bridges en masse. That’s when our government began to dismantled social programs meant for people experiencing homelessness, affordable housing and the mentally ill. 
From 1978 – 1983, the Federal budget for housing shrank from $84B to $18B dollars, and mass homelessness in America began. 
That’s $64B dollars annually we’re losing for housing. 
These federal cuts have never been restored. And we have turned hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets.
Homelessness in America is at an all time high. It’s a natural disgrace.
Imagine being homeless – you’re cold, you’re wet. Where will you sleep tonight? Will you be safe? Will you be assaulted? Worst yet, will you be sexually assaulted.
You ask, why are people staring at me? Your thoughts are racing so fast it’s hard to concentrate. Your entire body is tired and tense. You have sleep deprivation. You’re told you’re number 522 on the wait-list for housing at the local shelter. It’s an estimated 2 years that you have to live the hell that is homelessness. And you have become a criminal for no other reason than not having a safe place to call home in your own country.
Some people might see these homelessness as junkies, but they are incredible men and women, who have incredible hearts.
In Portland, more than 16,000 people will experience homelessness this year. One-third of these people are women. And one-third of those women will experience sexual assault on the streets. More than half of the people outside are people with severe disabilities (mentally / physically disabled). 
Four steps to help solve homelessness:
1) The next President would make ending homelessness a top priority. (without real national leadership we cannot solve homelessness)
2) A homeless BILL OF RIGHTS. (to protect the civil and basic rights. People are discriminated everyday for being homeless.)
3) New policies to support renters from mass evictions and help curb high rental costs (we need rent control)
4) New revenue to support giving our most vulnerable citizens housing opportunities (we need massive investments and affordable housing).

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Local communities have to face the problem and work to solve it. 
Homelessness in our communities feels normal, but it is anything but normal. Homelessness is NOT normal. Housing is not a new idea. We need a new idea and new actions to solve a new problem.  We need new and emerging leaders. We need strong and bold legislators. We need courage to build strong coalitions. We need new resources to give people a safe place to call home.
First, you can just acknowledge homeless people. Offer them coffee, food, or money. They are human beings. There is nothing more powerful in life than the power of human connectivity and love. It’s something we all need and it’s something we can all give.  
We cannot burn out on compassion fatigue (being overwhelmed by so many problems).
To succeed in life, we all need a place to call home.

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