"One Paycheck Away" at Thanksgiving

written by naehblog
November 25, 2009

The time has rolled around again for us to give thanks for all our blessings, and the Alliance thought it might be helpful to take a sharp look at those who are less fortunate. Thanks for reading our wandering thoughts – and have a happy Thanksgiving!

It’s that time of year again.

Pumpkins retreat as the mercury plunges, and we’re seized with the charitable desire to be kind to those less fortunate. Suddenly, those on the economic brink of society – those just “one paycheck away” from homelessness – have taken center stage in our national conscience.

It’s a shift as sure as the season – and this year, it’s one that resonates all the louder. While homelessness has long been the exclusive plight of Americans living in poverty, its reach is climbing up the socioeconomic ladder. Increasingly, middle-class Americans are seeing the distance from one paycheck to the next get shorter and shorter while their incomes – and savings – dwindle. Combined with cash-strapped states cutting back social services and a continued rise in unemployment, the reality of homelessness comes sharply into focus.

This holiday season, there will be far more families living just “one paycheck away.”

The good news: this is not news. The ravaging effects of the economy and it’s impact on those living in poverty has not been wholly overlooked. An important federal stimulus initiative known as the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) is one of the few Congress-funded programs to address the recession by helping the poor rather than the rich.

HPRP does exactly what the name suggests: it gives families money to stay in their houses, or if they do become homeless, quickly gets them back into homes. It has been effective, but is not large enough to protect all those who will be threatened. (In fact, the Alliance predicts that as many as one million more Americans will experience homelessness as a result of the recession.)

This holiday season, the stakes are precipitously high. As politicians and pundits across the cable shows have said, this is the worst economic turndown that the country has seen in decades.

Now is the time to gather as a national community and make sure that our well-intentioned hearts espouse a sense of urgency. Let’s call upon our national leaders and make sure they don’t forget what we’re enduring now. This holiday season, let’s truly make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.

Let’s make sure that the legacy of this recession is not a new generation of homelessness.