Monday, February 16, 2015

Aid to homeless people has diminished, while poor, less-desperate people receive more aid

Government assistance to people with incomes that are one-half to two-times the poverty level has increased since 1983. But to those with incomes less than that, it has actually decreased.
– text from a New York Times graph titled “At the Bottom and Left Behind.”

A top-center of the front page article in the New York Times today tells of the incomprehensible actions of government in giving more aid to struggling low-wage workers and certain categories of poor folk seen as “deserving” of help, while the most-desperate poor folk -- most homeless individuals – are getting an ever-shrinking amount of aid.

Article at the top, front & center in the NYT.
The title of the article is “Aid to Needy Often Excludes Poorest in U.S.

Robert A. Moffitt, an economist at Johns Hopkins University, is the source of the information in the article. What the Times printed is from a piece Moffitt wrote for the journal Demography that is soon to be published.

Dr. Moffitt is a Senior Fellow and former Director at the Center for Health Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation.

At the Heritage website, Moffitt is identified as being conservative politically which makes the thrust of his findings both particularly believable and disheartening.  I say/write that because the thrust of Moffitt’s analysis cannot be dismissed as poor-people-loving liberal claptrap, and, thus, more-easily ignored by the breadth of politicians and others who might be able to address the absurdity of not providing the most help to the most needy.

Here is some pivotal text from the piece, written by Times reporter Patricia Cohen:
Dr. Moffitt found that government assistance for families whose incomes flutter just above the poverty line nearly doubled from 1983 to 2004) after taking inflation into account. The numbers look very different for those scraping along at the bottom, generally unemployed single mothers with children. Their benefits declined in real terms by about one-third.

During the Great Recession, assistance to the poorest briefly expanded but has since fallen back, he said, and there is no indication that the long-run trend is shifting.
All this is appalling news on the face of it, but near gruesome in the face of deteriorating conditions "on the street" for suffering homeless people in Sacramento.

Sleeping somewhere when the shelters are full is currently illegal, and if a lawsuit that Attorney Mark Merin is pursuing fails to provide some shred of legal protection for those who find a space -- any space -- to put a blanket, sleeping bag or tent, then we, as a society, are fully in an Orwellian nightmare. The police will be emboldened, perhaps such to, effectively, chase homeless people out of the county.

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