Homeless in D.C.

19 Aug

One of the starkest contrasts I’ve ever noticed is between the have and have nots in downtown Washington DC, right by our hallowed halls of government.  Today I saw two sides of the homeless crisis that is currently affecting our nation’s capital.

Over 6,000 people find themselves homeless in Washington DC in 2010, an increase of over 13% from 2007.  Their plight has been covered very sparingly by media, but two reports, one by CBS and another by Al Jazeera (of all places), covered the plight of DC’s homeless. Thankfully, there are many devoted organizations that are working to end homelessness and provide food to the hungry.  These links are just a few of them.

As I was walking today through McPherson park, I stumbled on a mobile truck that was distributing food to the hungry.  The park is currently closed for some form of construction, but the hungry continue to arrive.  There were probably 50 people around the area.

McPherson Park without construction

The other side to the issue of homelessness came while I was walking down Pennsylvania Avenue on my way to get something to eat.  A young businessman walked by a homeless lady with a sandwich.  She asked him for change, and he apologized but declined.  Her response (eerily similar to something that I heard recently) was, “I hope you choke and die on your damn sandwich.” Unfortuntely, reactions like that give us a sense of justification in not doing more to help end this crisis.

I’m just as guilty, but I’m going to take a second look.  Every time I see pictures like those below, I feel horrible.  How is it that we’re civilizing the rest of the world, but people live without shelter two blocks from the White House?

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