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Forum: Don’t ignore the homeless

Updated: March 25, 2013 6:52AM



The Feb. 19 editorial asked the question, “why does this country tolerate homelessness?” As a volunteer with South Suburban PADS, which operates a network of nightly shelters, I have some theories.

We tolerate homelessness because some people believe homeless people have made decisions that caused them to be homeless. It is true that some of the homeless have made poor decisions or are addicted to alcohol or drugs, but they are a minority. Who among us has not made poor decisions in our life?

There is a lack of understanding by most people of how close many of us are to being homeless — how the loss of a job or medical insurance or a lengthy illness can cause our finances to spiral out of control. Too many people take for granted their good job, good health and good fortune.

It is because of this disdain for America’s homeless that we choose to ignore them and send checks to the poor and homeless in other nations and to other charities rather than aiding the homeless here. I hope that more will care about the homeless and contact South Suburban PADS to locate a nearby shelter at which to volunteer, where they can experience the reward of helping the homeless.

Homeless people are not perfect. However, each week at Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Burbank I see amazing examples of women and children persevering under unbelievably difficult conditions. Homeless people are some of the bravest people I know.

Sandra H. Taeuber

PADS site manager

Immanuel Christian Reformed Church

Burbank

Don’t change minimum wage

In his State of the State address, Gov. Pat Quinn proposed raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour, saying, “No one should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty.” Moments later he proclaimed, “We want Illinois to be the leading employer of people with disabilities.”

We cannot do both.

We at Envision Unlimited, a human services agency for people with intellectual and development disabilities, are concerned that increasing the minimum wage would make the high unemployment rate for our clients worse. Only 22 percent of individuals with disabilities are employed, according to federal statistics.

The negative effects of raising the minimum wage reach even further. Human service providers are reimbursed by the state at a fixed rate, per hour of service provided, and the state wouldn’t be required to raise that rate to cover the higher wage.

It would be difficult to cover this cost and jobs would be cut — adding to the unemployment rate and taking away vocational training desperately needed by individuals with disabilities.

We ask Gov. Quinn and the General Assembly to keep the minimum wage where it is — fourth highest in the nation.

Raymond V. Janutis

President, CEO

Envision Unlimited

Chicago



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