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Commentary: Congressional bill will help the homeless

May 10, 2013|By Scoba Rhodes

Finally! A viable solution for the homeless experience.

We see homeless people and families in our parks, on our beaches, under our bridges and in our subway stations, and we ask ourselves, "When is someone going to do something about this? How did this happen? Can't he get a job somewhere? He must be freezing! What can I do? One dollar is not going to make any difference."

As most of us know, the homeless problem is not a local issue, but a national one. According to Congress, the number of homeless families has increased by 1.2% since 2009.

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We, as a nation, attempt to provide shelter, food, job training and medical care to hundreds of homeless, while thousands are turned away.

Finally, Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-New York City) has introduced a viable solution to our House of Representatives, but unfortunately it is stuck in a committee with no co-sponsors and destined to die.

House Resolution 29, the "Mobile Medical Homeless Health Improvement Act," is the best method of approaching the homeless problem throughout the United States. This act provides a grant to local hospitals and clinics to fund mobile medical services to the homeless, giving primary medical and dental screenings, mental health care and medications, case management, benefits assistance and triage.

This will allow our medical professionals and social workers to provide immediate and/or preventive medical care to the homeless; immediately identify the most vulnerable of the homeless (women, children, elderly) and secure emergency shelter; identify mental health sufferers and begin treatment; identify victims of domestic violence and secure treatment and shelter; and refer those ready for job training and prepare them for re-entry into society.

It is generally accepted there are four primary causes of homelessness: rising unemployment and lowering wages; an inadequate safety net; a lack of affordable housing; and poverty.

H.R. 29 addresses three out of four of those root causes; it has no control over housing costs. Besides, caring for the homeless and enabling them for successful re-entry into society is beneficial for us all. Maybe one dollar won't make a difference, but one vote can.

Urge your member of Congress to support and vote yes on H.R. 29 — not just for the homeless, but for us all.

SCOBA RHODES, a Tustin resident, is earning her master's in social work at USC.

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