Aug 1, 2005
Today the Chicago Public Schools say they have 9,000 students who don't have homes, up from 3,500 in 2000. As bad as the schools are for most poor and working class children, it's exceptionally hard for homeless children. Some are simply too tired to come to school after being all night in a noisy homeless shelter. Others take care of younger brothers or sisters, as a parent tries to survive on a minimum wage job.
Over the years there are fewer and fewer low rent apartments available in Chicago. Landlords have converted whole areas where the poor formerly lived into expensive housing. Many thousands of people have been pushed out of Chicago Public Housing high rise buildings, which have been torn down or the space turned over to the wealthy. And many thousands who were living illegally in those buildings, as bad as they were, found them better than privately owned slums. Now many are homeless.
Further, the so-called safety net has unraveled. Clinton "ended welfare as we've known it" in 1996, and the Democratic Party, which has totally controlled Chicago and Cook County over the years, has cut back on programs that offered some support to the poorest.
What a statement about capitalism that in one of its biggest cities, Chicago, home to dozens of the biggest corporations in the world, a city of incredible wealth – there are 9,000 homeless children in the schools. And how many uncounted more on the streets.