Homelessness In America

9 07 2020

  By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

This is the title of my newest law review article that discusses the tragedy facing the homeless in the United States, the richest nation on Earth.[2] 

Homelessness in America and globally transcends age, race, gender, ethnicity, religious affiliations, nationalities and political beliefs—and it is our problem, as human beings.

The homeless today exist largely in the shadows, trying to survive amidst depravation, humiliation and often staggeringly-difficult weather conditions with little or no money, food or shelter.

They are the elderly—with America’s Social Security retirement benefits being inadequate to cover the cost of housing—and families with young children; and they provide a broad spectrum and set of excruciating challenges.

Yet so much wealth may be nearby, in cities like Los Angeles, whose residents often avert their eyes from such sights like Americans did years ago when my mother was in a wheelchair, and people looked away from her.

Refugees from the war-torn Middle East, most notably Syria, have fled to the safety that they perceived in Europe.  Many of them have died along the route, as a result of what in Mexico are referred to as “coyotes,” or those who take money from and exploit refugees on a global basis.  Perhaps two young boys, Aylan and Galip Kurdi—who died in the waters near the Turkish resort of Bodrum, trying to escape—symbolize millions who have given their lives in the quest for freedom, safety and a better life.[3]

The global effects of the Coronavirus on the lives of the homeless may be catastrophic.  Many will not survive.  For those Americans who have never been homeless (except perhaps in their college years), and never thought they would be, the virus has changed lives dramatically, from an economic standpoint alone.  Vast numbers are out of work, and may never find jobs again.



© 2020, Timothy D. Naegele

[1]  Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass). He and his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, specialize in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and Timothy D. Naegele Resume-20-6-30). He has an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal (see, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commendation_Medal#Joint_Service). Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/articles/), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com

[2]  See Timothy D. Naegele, Homelessness In America, 137 BANKING L. J. 378 (July-August 2020) (Naegele July-August 2020) (Timothy D. Naegele) [NOTE: To download The Banking Law Journal article, please click on the link to the left of this note]; see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/30/the-coronavirus-and-similar-global-issues-how-to-address-them/ (“The Coronavirus And Similar Global Issues: How To Address Them”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/25/remembering-the-comfort-women-victims-of-human-trafficking-and-slavery/ (“Remembering The Comfort Women, Victims Of Human Trafficking And Slavery”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/poverty-in-america/ (“Poverty In America”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/28/human-trafficking/ (“Human Trafficking”)

[3]  See, e.g., http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3219553/Terrible-fate-tiny-boy-symbolises-desperation-thousands-Body-drowned-Syrian-refugee-washed-Turkish-beach-family-tried-reach-Europe.html and http://www.wsj.com/articles/image-of-syrian-boy-washed-up-on-beach-hits-hard-1441282847 (“Image of Drowned Syrian Boy Echoes Around World”) and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/11843440/The-power-of-photography-How-images-have-changed-world-opinions.html (“The power of photography: Images that changed world opinions”) and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/turkey/11847321/Police-officer-who-found-Syrian-toddler-I-prayed-he-was-still-alive.html (“Police officer who found Syrian toddler: ‘I prayed he was still alive’”)



4 responses

9 07 2020
H. Craig Bradley


Many Middle Class homeowners stand to lose their homes during a future wave of foreclosures. Job losses, business closings, reduced hours and pay, and a shift to work-at-home as an independent contractor rather than a salaried employee will impact the Middle Class. While some will thrive and rise up the ladder, a larger number will continue to struggle just to stay in-place.

Many more Americans may slide down a slippery slope into poverty. In general, Covid-19 won’t help middle class residents maintain their lifestyles in high cost regions like Calif. It will therefore reduce state and local government tax revenues, forcing the State of Calif. to find additional sources of tax revenue (increases). More Californians will leave for lower cost states if they can.

Liked by 1 person

9 07 2020
Timothy D. Naegele

Yes, I agree, Craig.


9 07 2020

This essay shines a bright light on a situation that is so insidious I think many just don’t notice. It’s easier not to see it.

Working in a hospital for many years when I had patients who were homeless, they would often say they didn’t want to go to the shelters upon discharge. “They’re full of crazy people,” they’d sometimes say. Some had been robbed in shelters of their meager possessions or physically attacked. They preferred being discharged to the streets where they felt they were in control to a degree.

I grew up in the suburbs of L.A., and in the 1950’s and 60’s there were many factory jobs a less than stellar student could get. They would never get rich but they’d have access to healthcare and a retirement. Ford had an assembly plant in Pico Rivera.

Mental health problems seemed to mushroom on the streets when in the 1980’s the mentally ill, who were deemed not to be a threat to themselves or others, had the right to leave mental health institutions and live on the streets if they preferred. I recall a woman, so sweet and timid, maybe mid 30’s. She had some serious mental health problems. She hadn’t bathed or washed her hair in years because of her belief that even though others did it without harm, if she attempted to bathe the water would become scalding hot and burn her. I remember the day she walked out of the facility with nowhere to go, no one to help, no money, no ability to earn her way.

Mental health problems coupled with substance dependence and abuse as well as the hopelessness that runs so deep present a vast problem. How can this be addressed? How can they be helped? Because even if I buy a pre-made sandwich, an apple and a bottle of water to give to someone begging at the door of the market, that’s not a solution.

I am politically conservative. But to me what that means is I shouldn’t think this is the government’s problem to solve. It’s my problem. It’s yours. It’s ours.

Liked by 1 person

10 07 2020
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you for your comments, Susan.

Clearly, one size does not fit all; and there are a myriad of issues facing the homeless in this country alone, leave aside those facing people in other countries. For example, war-torn Syria, and Mexico and parts of Africa where young girls become victims of human trafficking or sexual slavery, or they are killed and their body parts are harvested and sold.

The Coronavirus pandemic will force many into homelessness who never thought that they too would become casualties; and there will be an almost-endless list of competing demands for federal, state and local funding, as businesses are decimated, etc.

My article, and its companion June article about the virus (see https://naegeleblog.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/timothy-d.-naegele.pdf) cover a broad spectrum of issues, many of which are overlapping.

Will these issues be addressed, much less adequately? I have recommended that China must be forced to pay trillions of dollars in reparations/restitution for having unleashed the virus on the world, and having caused so much suffering in the United States and globally. Obviously, China can ignore the issue and blame the United States. However, Americans and those of other countries can “vote” with the pocketbooks, and refuse to buy anything and everything from China.

My concern, and presumably yours, is that if money was available to help the homeless, would it really reach and help them? Indeed, as I stated in my article:

[T]he author defies anyone – much less the finest trained lawyers in America – to pick their way through the bureaucratic nightmare that is the HUD-VASH Program, its forms and requirements.

. . .

If highly-skilled lawyers are unable to understand the gibberish, how can the homeless – much less homeless elderly veterans – be expected to do so?

See pp. 384, 389.

And I wrote the “Brooke Amendment” relating to public housing; and the national “Housing Allowance” program, which morphed into the Section 8 housing program that has helped millions of Americans.

Lastly, you cited those who “would often say they didn’t want to go to the shelters upon discharge. ‘They’re full of crazy people,’ they’d sometimes say. Some had been robbed in shelters of their meager possessions or physically attacked. They preferred being discharged to the streets where they felt they were in control to a degree.”

Imagine what happens to women and young girls like the “woman, so sweet and timid, maybe mid 30’s,” whom you cited. Tragically, rape may be the least that happens to someone like her.

Liked by 2 people

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