Impeachment: Media Spectacle hides plight of homeless & poor FWD

Tom Boland (
Sun, 14 Feb 1999 00:02:47 -0800 (PST)

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FWD  Chicago Sun Times [Letter]


February 7, 1999

With so much time spent on the Clinton-Starr saga, the media neglect other
moral critical issues. A case in point is the ongoing dearth of stories on
homelessness, poverty and welfare bureaucratic blunders.

In August, 1998, the Illinois Coalition to End Homelessness planned a media
event to coincide with the second anniversary of the signing of federal
welfare legislation. Unfortunately, our event was overshadowed by the
Lewinsky story and we withdrew to reschedule our activity for
mid-September. Alas, Washington scandal hit again.

We held that event, designed to call attention to welfare cuts that cause
homelessness, and the story received dismal news coverage.

On Dec. 20, for national Homeless Persons' Memorial Day, we held a memorial
service and released our annual report on homelessness in Illinois. Despite
gallant efforts to attract media attention, the event got minimal coverage
due to impeachment proceedings.

It may or may not be a conspiracy by Democrats and/or Republicans to create
a massive media distraction to prevent coverage of other stories that
affect millions of Americans, especially those poorest and most in need.
Whatever it is, it needs to stop before more adults and children become
homeless--or die homeless.

For those who missed ``the other'' stories:

* Homelessness is up all across the state and nation--including suburban
and rural areas--partly due to the high cost of housing, inadequate wages,
lack of medical care and scarce treatment options for alcohol and drugs.
Welfare cuts represent a significant factor.

* Welfare cuts--not advancement from welfare to work--account for the
majority of welfare case closures. Cuts occur too frequently because of
bureaucratic mistakes, not uncooperative recipients.

* Drastic shortages of baby food pantries is attributed to welfare cuts.

* Homeless kids still are being kept out of school by administrators
unwilling to comply with and/or unaware of state and federal laws that
remove homelessness as a barrier to public education.

Constitutional convulsions in Washington should be caused not by sex
scandals, but by suffering of less-than-affluent constituents back home
whose basic human rights and needs have been trampled. That's the story to

-- Diane D. Nilan, board president, Illinois Coalition to End Homelessness


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