Forget the ten things we love about Norfolk. Or the five things Millennials want us to love about them because they lack our undying love.
Let's examine real issues instead of self-induced delusions and self-centered selfies. Let's concentrate on two very important things that plague every city. They are low wages and affordable housing.
Low wages led to the causes of hunger and lack of affordable housing led to an increase in homelessness, according to a report issued by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Norfolk is a member of the Conference and participated in the annual survey.
This is poverty, folks. This is America, folks. This could be Park Place, Berkeley or Lamberts Point. It could be the fringe of Ocean View, Norview or the entire east side of Norfolk. It even afflicts a swathe of Ghent.
It's a plague on our house, yet we believe it's not our house. We believe it's someone else's house, that someone else should deal with this plague.
In Camus' The Plague, people in the fictional town of Oran, divided by religion, race and class, find solidarity in combating a mysterious and moribund plague affecting everyone, regardless of their money, status or thinking. Only in solidarity does the town survive. Yet discord is also a plague.
The report differs not by much from previous reports. People are hungry and people are homeless, despite the goodwill of government, religious organizations and other social justice groups. But this isn't about social justice. This is about a living wage and a reasonable rent for shelter. This is about helping the popolo minuto.
Some of the findings:
Findings on Hunger – Seventy-one percent of the cities in this year’s survey reported that requests for emergency food assistance increased over the past year. Of those requesting assistance, 56 percent were persons in families, 38 percent were employed, 20.5 percent were elderly, and 7 percent were homeless.
Low wages led the list of causes cited by the survey cities, followed by poverty, unemployment, and high housing costs.
Findings on Homelessness – Overall, the total number of homeless persons increased across the survey cities by 1 percent.
The number of families experiencing homelessness increased by an average of 3 percent. Across the survey cities as a group, 28 percent of homeless adults were severely mentally ill, 22 percent were physically disabled, 15 percent were victims of domestic violence, and 3 percent were HIV Positive.
Eighteen percent of homeless adults were employed and 13 percent were veterans. For families with children, the single leading cause of homelessness cited by city officials was lack of affordable housing, followed by unemployment, poverty, and low-paying jobs.
For unaccompanied individuals, lack of affordable housing also topped the list of causes of homelessness, followed by unemployment, poverty, mental illness and lack of needed services, and substance abuse and lack of needed services.
Read the report here.
All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant's revolving door.