An affluent society must care for its poor

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Where is the voice for the poor? After only a few weeks of public outcry about long waits at airports due to the sequestration cuts, Congress acted for a bipartisan solution to the crisis.

The May 2 Post-Gazette article "Less Low-Income Housing Squeezing Needy People" focused one dimension of a reality that I have been seeing regularly at the Jubilee Kitchen since the economic downturn began. Every day I get visits and numerous calls from people desperate for help. These are not the usual Kitchen guests who live in destitution. They are working Americans with low-paying jobs, people with disabilities, and the aged -- all trapped in upside-down budgets where expenses are more than income. Usually the cause is high rent. Now there is less low-income housing available. Public policy prioritizes mixed income housing, pushing the poor into neighborhoods with fewer and more over-used social services.

I am worried about us as American society with the widening gap between those who are drowning and those who don't even notice. Can America continue blindly to depress workers' wages, profit from their cheap services, demand "fair-market" rents and refuse fair taxes in light of this crisis? I am worried.

The question is not how to stretch less social service funding as though we were a business seeking greater efficiency. These are suffering human beings, our sisters and brothers, who every religion insists demand our compassionate help.

The question is: How are we as an affluent society going to end this crisis of economic insecurity and homelessness?

I am waiting for the groundswell of public outcry from churches, social service agencies and especially regular Americans who have the courage and compassion to open their eyes to a crisis far more real and more threatening to our way of life than long waits at airports.

SISTER LIGUORI ROSSNER
Executive Director
Jubilee Association, Inc.
Uptown


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