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Our view: Why does this country tolerate homelessness?

Updated: March 20, 2013 6:37AM



Two hundred thousand are veterans.

Seventy-one percent are in big cities, such as Chicago.

One and a half million are children.

But the truth is that no one knows for sure how many of these people there are, except that it’s likely to be far more than we can count accurately.

Some are prone to this condition every day and every night. Others face it once in a while, or every few days.

If you can’t measure a problem, how can you possibly find solutions to it?

Except for the power and nobility of human hearts who refuse to surrender to the inexplicable tragedy of it, we would never make any progress. The best we can do is reach one person at a time, and hope we reach enough that provable good has been done.

Welcome to the world of American homelessness.

In the heart of the richest nation that ever existed, we have the hopelessly homeless. Some are crippled by circumstances; some by addictions and psychic suffering.

Many are simply lost.

When you met some of them on our pages this weekend — those who live under highways — we wonder if you reacted as we did.

Even with noble agents of good working in our neighborhoods to help, we are dumbfounded. How can this be America? How can we allow that to happen to Americans?

The urban missionaries of the Rev. Ron Ovitt’s Calvary Church in Orland Park were on the streets looking for souls to help this weekend, as they often do. Finding the homeless is the first requirement.

You met some of them. Bonnie Gorgievski, of Mokena, and Don Weber and Faith Ondras, both of Orland Park, came out to help. So did the Kostelyk family, of Hinsdale. Jason and Dee Kostelyk brought 10-year-old son Calvin, 13-year-old daughter Jada, and nieces Esme Gonzalez, 13, and Vanessa Gonzalez, 15.

We list them because they deserve it. They all came to help. We know there are others.

But we remain dumbfounded by homelessness. We know it is real, but we have one question for which there seems to be no answer: How can America tolerate it?



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