Ted Williams the homeless man with the golden voice. Time for an honest and open discussion on being homeless in America

Filed in Gather Health Essential by on January 7, 2011 0 Comments

By now most people know the story of Ted Williams, the homeless man found living on the streets of Columbus, Ohio.  A YouTube video of Williams posted by the Columbus Dispatch, revealed that he had the “golden voice,” perfect for radio or television announcements. It’s a gift he often tried to maximize while panhandling and demonstrating his voice-over skills as he begged by the side of the road.  It’s being estimated that the video has been viewed nearly 12 million times.

Homeless advocates are delighted that the issue of being homeless, in American, is being bought to the forefront once again.  Most Americans are are happy seeing Mr. Williams’ rags to riches story come to fruition.  It’s being reported that he has received job offers from the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers, MTV, MSNBC, Kraft Foods and other major U.S. corporations.  The offer from the Cavaliers came with a house included.

The story of Mr. Williams rise from being homeless to international superstar is undoubtedly 2011s most feelgood story of the young year.  But it doesn’t dismiss the fact that millions of Americans are either living on the streets or find themselves living in homeless shelters.  Unlike Mr. Williams, who found himself homeless due to alcohol and drug abuse, many Americans now live on the streets or in homeless shelters due to job loss, medical bills, lack of affordable housing and a myriad of other issues.

Homelessness in the United States increased significantly in the late 1970s. The number of homeless people grew in the 1980s, as housing and social service cuts increased and the economy deteriorated. The number of homeless has risen since then.  According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were 643,067 sheltered and un-sheltered homeless people, nationwide, on any given night in January 2008.  Nearly 1.6 million people used emergency shelters or a transitional housing programs during the 12 month period between October 1, 2007 and September 30, 2008. Roughly 1 in every 200 persons in the US used the shelter system at some point in that period.

Many Americans find it appalling that so many of its citizens live on the streets or in homeless shelters.  Some call the homeless situation America’s dirty little secret. The answers aren’t easy and the situation is a very complex one.  Charitable donations have declined over the last 8 years.  In some cases there’s a deep resentment towards the homeless, believing they have no one to blame but themselves.

The remarkable story of Mr. Williams rise from rags to riches will soon fizzle as Americans move on to the next feelgood story, act of terrorism or bipartisan clash within government.  However one thing will remain constant.  American citizens will still be living on the streets or in homeless shelters.

Given this rare opportunity, it’s time to have a open discussion on being homeless in America.  Is there a solution to this issue?  And what about the children, who for no fault of their own, find themselves living on the streets, in homeless shelters, tents and cars?  Should homelessness be high on the priority list for the Obama administration?  Will the new majority Republican majority in the Congress even address this issue?  Is it too overwhelming of a problem?  What is your opinion?

Video courtesy of YouTube

©2011 by Lloyd Cope .  All rights reserved.

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I enjoy engaging in meaningful conversation with people from all over the world. Opposing points of view are also welcomed. Just remember this, we can always 'agree to disagree'.

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