The Partnership for the Homeless

Poor Seem Far Down the List On the Candidates’ Agendas

A response from our CEO to the New York Times article, August 12, 2016

While the political discourse in our country leaves much to be desired, the conversation, in the beginning days of the upcoming presidential election, when it occasionally turns somewhat substantive can often be defined by what has not been said. 

Surely, we understand that the candidates are trying to shore up their base, which obviously doesn’t include the countless Americans who today are poor and homeless. They are nowhere to be found in the speeches given in critical swing-states.  If they’re there at all, they may be in the shadows, hidden away while other matters are promoted. 

Unfortunately, forgotten is that these poor Americans desperately cling to the hope that our country’s success story might one day belong to them, too. That the talk about job creation and spurring small businesses, of further helping people become self-sufficient, may reach  down to them as well.

But where is the talk about how we have a deep, entrenched affordable housing crisis in our country? Where is the talk about how so many Americans have been left behind to fend for themselves, constantly making unthinkable choices between paying for rent or food or medical care? And where is the talk about how we now have more children living in poverty than since the Great Depression?    

With each new election cycle there’s always some hope that we might work in new, courageous ways to break old habits in addressing poverty – and start on efforts that can achieve long-term change. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if this cycle will lead us in that direction. And while a new administration in Washington will soon be in place, I believe we’ll be much poorer as a country if we leave all those things left unsaid undone.

Arnold S. Cohen
President & CEO