Monthly Archives: October 2008

The Forgotten Vote

By Dr. Chad Audi

As we approach one of the most significant presidential elections in our history, it’s important that everyone has the right to vote. That includes the homeless and poor. Having no home or money should not hinder a person from casting a vote for an administration that will undoubtedly have a huge impact on his or her future. Homelessness can occur for many reasons, including the state of the economy. The loss of a job can lead to the loss of a home. We see that happening more today than ever before with the high rate of home foreclosures across the country.

So what efforts are being taken to ensure the disadvantaged have a say at the polls? Some states have launched campaigns to register thousands of homeless people to vote in the presidential election. In Ohio, advocates are driving the homeless to election offices to take advantage of a one-week period that allows people to register and vote on the same day. In other instances, the homeless are getting assistance applying for absentee ballots, which will be sent to the shelters and returned with postage that has been purchased through fund-raising. A coalition in Philadelphia held a rally calling on the major presidential candidates to not ignore persons who are homeless, low-income, disabled or ex-offenders.

No matter what the method, getting the poor and homeless to vote in this historic election is key. They have a huge stake in this year’s election. The critical issues that have affected their economic status need to be heard and examined more closely. Strategies need to be devised to provide more help for those who are homeless, disadvantaged and addicted. After all, we’re talking about a group of people that number more than 2 million nationwide. The impact could be staggering.

I’m interested in hearing what you think about voting rights for the homeless and poor. Send me your comments.

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We All Count

By Dr. Chad Audi

“Every Person Counts.” That statement is so very true. Especially when we think about the tens of thousands of homeless people living in the Detroit area. They count too. In fact, “Every Person Counts” is the name of a citywide campaign to literally count the homeless. The Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), Homeless Action Network of Detroit, University of Detroit Mercy’s Leadership Development Institute, and several other groups are involved in the initiative. The count helps determine government funding for homeless services.

While the required count will take place in January, there was a preliminary count taken this summer. Teams of people fanned out around the Detroit area, locating and counting the homeless. From grassy fields to abandoned buildings to cardboard houses beneath freeway bridges, team members went in search of the homeless to ask them basic and detailed questions about their background, health and family status. The counters passed out bottled water, personal hygiene kits and gave the homeless phone numbers to shelters and other service providers.

Counting the homeless is important in planning services that meet their needs. Counting the homeless also raises public awareness about this population’s plight. Although DRMM services nearly 1,300 people each day, there are still thousands of disadvantaged and addicted people who call the streets home. Some choose to remain there; others may not know where to get help. Some are visible to the eye; others remain out of sight. DRMM tries to reach out to all of them, because we believe that every person counts.

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