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Housing advocate raises awareness on road trip through the USA

 Spare Change News (USA) 20 September 2019

 (665 Words) - By Dr. Mary M. McLaughlin

Mark's experiences motivated him to travel across our country interviewing homeless people in an effort to humanize and personalize them, to raise awareness of the rapidly growing number of homeless men, women, children and families in the United States, to help reduce crimes against them and to increase compassion towards them.

His brief but compelling interviews are posted online at invisiblepeople.tv.Using the Internet to bring publicity to his cause, Mark has been so successful that he has become one of the most influential people using online media today.  CNN televised an interview with Mark last year and posted a story and video online about his activities to raise awareness of homelessness. Watch the CNN interview and read the story at http://tinyurl.com/ycocq7a.

This summer, Mark is traveling across our nation on his third annual Road Trip USA highlighting inner city, suburban and rural homelessness. His journey is being sponsored in part by Ford, Pepsi, Hanes, Sprint and others. Homelessness is a very rapidly growing phenomenon in the United States today.

Losing one's home is often related to job loss. Unfortunately, recent jobless claims indicate that our nation's unemployment rate remains steady at 9.5 percent even though many unemployed people have cycled off official counts, having already received all of the unemployment insurance benefits to which they were entitled.

At this time, our painfully weak job market shows few signs of improvement. Our nation's banks increased the rate of home repossessions this year, pushing the foreclosure rate higher for the eighth straight month. RealtyTrac Foreclosure Report indicated in August that 14.6 million Americans are out of work and that one million additional American houses will be foreclosed over the coming year.

Statistical predictions are that half of the people living in those houses will become homeless. Those who manage to relocate to an apartment will still have to face the prospect of homelessness if they cannot secure employment before depleting their cash, unemployment benefits, savings accounts and retirement investments.

At the same time, the rich seem to be getting richer and richer. A group of millionaires and billionaires recently united in an initiative to give away fifty per cent of their fortunes, pledging publicly to do so before they die.

The donation preferences of the rich, however, usually run towards international aid initiatives, colleges and universities and towards certain "approved" high profile agencies that have long been popular among this group but which have not made significant inroads in the direction of providing housing for homeless people.

The alleviation of homelessness in this country has not been a popular cause, even though many of our nation's homeless men and women are disabled veterans.Mark is a strong advocate of a "housing first" policy with respect to the provision of services to homeless people and he is working now to give homeless individuals and families a much bigger voice in our national dialogue about this critical matter.

His latest initiative involves helping homeless people to get online where they will be able to connect and share their experiences on sites like Twitter and Facebook.  Many homeless people have cell phones; they can post to online sites using so-called "smart" phones or by using computers available in public libraries for free.We have often seemed to care more about the circumstances of homeless animals in this country than we have about the circumstances of homeless human beings.

However, I am confident that the growth of online social media sites and the work of dedicated advocates like Mark are combining now to bring hope as well as real, rapid, positive and lasting change to our nation's homeless people.

 

Originally published by Spare Change News, USA. © www.streetnewsservice.org

 

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