Bill Becker

The Homeless Aren’t Cool Enough

This has to be the case, right? Because if they were cool, people would be all over it! They would be taken care of. 

Yeah, the title of this post is snarky, but for a good reason — to make a point. I want to jolt people into action. I don’t need my message to resonate with the majority of this country. I’m not even trying to motivate 10% of the general public to go out and help the homeless.

I want to reach a select group of people. People who are ready to take action. I want to inspire this group of people to be energized and focused to act; to do new things, and to finally fix a problem that has gone on for far too long.

I have no problem helping those who are less fortunate anywhere in the world, but it sure seems like it is cooler to say you are helping someone in Kenya, Haiti, or Ukraine (more on that one in a bit). The United States sends out more missionaries than any other country (over 130,000 a year at last check) but has one of the highest homeless counts in the industrial world. Let’s be clear, I am not an isolationist. I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that many have ignored our own refugees for so long. Why are our own people so uncool?

I am in a publishing group for book writers where authors trade excerpts and comments. A particular writer is doing a book on his experience starting a nonprofit to help people in Haiti. One day he told us that he is often asked, “Why don’t you help people here in the U.S.?” His reply was, “That kind of question is most often an excuse for doing nothing — here or there or anywhere.” He wasn’t being snarky, he was being an asshole. It’s a fair question that he didn’t want to answer.

There’s a lot of hypocrisy on this subject. Let’s talk about the government’s role in that hypocrisy. Long-term, we can’t depend on the Federal Government to solve this problem. If they could, they would have by now. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness actually said that during their “All In” webinar last month. They can and are helping, as are many state and local governments, but there needs to be an additional effort to finally end homelessness. That is why I wanted to start this revolution.

Back to Ukraine. A Federal program that was recently announced is called the Welcome Corps. This is the perfect example for this post! The Welcome Corps program helps people (refugees from around the world) who have gone through horrible life events. Again, a great cause…or is it “noteworthy” in that it’s interesting, significant, or unusual. Something that makes you feel good to post on your social media page.

I think the mechanics of the program are a tremendous example of my idea of inspiring syndicates of individuals and organizations to focus their energies on helping specific homeless individuals that I talk about in The Goal. Maybe if we tell people those folks under the bridge or in a tent on the street are from Afghanistan, Ukraine, or Venezuela, they would be more inclined to help…or maybe I’m the asshole.