An old friend and long term neighbor and I met while leaving our building this morning. I asked how things were going with the homeless with whom she works through a local church. She said, “They can’t believe what is happening to them.”

It used to be that our homeless were mentally injured veterans, addicts, or generally poverty stricken people. Now any of us with some bad breaks — loss of a job, home, massive medical bills, etc. — may find ourselves joining the mob of lost ones. In a comment the other day I pointed out that our mayor spent $100 million to get re-elected. He is by many billions our wealthiest NYC resident. Imagine what $100 million could do to alleviate the conditions described below. Can you imagine getting to sleep on a floor for 3 hours before being booted out on the streets again. Here in NYC we are experiencing record cold — heavy winds and freezing temperatures. How many places will let one in to warm up?

Our churches are doing their best — or some of them anyway. But they, too, are overwhelmed as my neighbor noted as we rode down in our warm elevator to the bitter cold outside.

I hate to guess how many others around the U.S. are facing similar conditions. Do you know what is happening in your part of it? I hear the elderly in rural areas cannot even get to doctors. I hate to guess how their heating is. We are currently renting a two family house which had two older women in residence. They could manage only some of their housing expenses, so we helped as much as we could. One recently died. We are now obliged to sell it to keep us ourselves together on a teacher’s pension.

I both hope that you have a home and have in mind any who do not whom you can assist?


“They said men and women have been forced to sleep in chairs and on tables and floors. The city is required by law to provide beds for the homeless. . . that women are regularly bused to a shelter and allowed to sleep for only three hours.”

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent [blind copies]

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