The bone-chilling winter blast that has recently overtaken most of the U.S., even extending to the normally warm Sunshine State, reminds us of how lucky — no, how blessed — we are to have adequate food and shelter. But there are so many others, of all colors and ages, who have nowhere to go, no roof over their heads, no warm meal on the stove — nothing but fear, anxiety and hopelessness.
In the District, Prince George’s County and beyond, makeshift shelters have been set up to provide a semblance of normalcy and comfort for the homeless. However, with the Christmas season over and with the nation bracing itself for the gray days of January and February, what tends to occur is the homeless being forgotten — quickly erased from our memories and our efforts to assist them abandoned as we turn our focus to tax preparation, making plans for summer vacations and other sundry items.
But if you need a reminder of how much more we still need to do for those who are less fortunate, just take a drive along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southeast, or downtown just a few steps away from Union Station under the arches of the highway where the homeless gather for warmth until they are allowed to enter shelters every evening after braving the cold of the day.
D.C. officials often boast about how full the city’s coffers have become and certainly that’s reason to celebrate after years of struggling to get out of the red. They like to highlight the surge of new businesses and development projects that continue to make their way into the District. But until we truly address the life-threatening problems associated with and faced by the homeless, D.C. cannot honestly claim to be that “City on the Hill” which the rhetoric routinely asserts.