Photo of the US and DC flags
Photo courtesy of Ted Eytan / flickr

I’m a member of the People for Fairness Coalition, homeless people and friends who meet at Miriam’s Kitchen in Northwest D.C. 

First lady Michelle Obama paid a visit to Miriam’s Kitchen and said that we need more people to volunteer their time, especially the way the economy is today. She also said that the homeless would need even more help with daily needs from the local and federal government.  

She’s right. That’s just what some of us from People for Fairness said when we testified before D.C. Council member Tommy Wells, who chairs the Human Services Committee. 

A photo of Robert Warren

Robert Warren. Archive photo

I testified to what I thought the local and federal government could do to best help people to get over their homelessness. I guess first and foremost would be some place to call home, then we could really use more training and more jobs. I feel most of us are not looking for a handout but a hand up. We also need shelters open 24 hours a day – not just overnight – to be able to get focused on the things we have to do to end our homelessness. Those would be the best things this government can do to help people like myself get back on our feet.  

When you testify they only give you a little time, and it’s hard to sum up all the things that homeless people go through, and who should be first when we spend money to help people. But when it comes to those who should be given the most help, they are most in need of a stimulus plan. The president did say they were going to focus on people with drug problems, which could help bring down the number of homeless people.  

And just one more thing: the president was on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and the last thing he said was that if you if want a friend in Washington, it’s best that you get a dog. The Lord knows the homeless could sure use a few more friends here in Washington who are not dogs, because most homeless people cannot afford a dog.  

So I hope the homeless children and the homeless women and men of Washington, D.C. and the rest of America would have a friend in the president. Maybe the president can help his friends get one of those houses the government owns, so that they may have a home for the homeless. That would be a bonus that America can believe in!  

There would be other friends of the president that would say that this is too much money to spend on the homeless, and so maybe just giving the homeless 24-hour shelters would be too much to ask for too. Or just trying to end low-barrier shelters, which only give 12-hour shelter to people who suffer from mental diseases, diseases of addiction and physical handicaps, and senior citizens.  

Hurricane victims at least get 24 hours of shelter – ask FEMA, which is part of Homeland Security. Maybe they can secure homes for the homeless, and they can start with the shelter at 801 East, on Making Life Better Lane on the grounds of St. Elizabeths Hospital. There is talk of building another Pentagon on the west side and securing the surrounding area for houses for its employees.  

So where does that leave the men and women of 801 East? Where do they fit into those plans? What security do we have in Homeland Security to help the homeless men of 801 East? Can’t we help make their lives better, on Making Life Better Lane?  

I testified about several other topics I think are important. Look for my editorials in a future issue of Street Sense.  

Robert has been a vendor two months and has been a regular at the Writer’s Group for longer. You can email him at [email protected]