Cody at Stewpot

Cody, a junior political science major, received a public service internship award from the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility this summer. She will be working with the Stewpot in downtown Dallas. She plans to attend several City Council meetings and to learn about the public policy of homelessness and how it is changing in Dallas, with the opening of the new and nontraditional Bridge Homeless Assistance Center. She hopes to help the Stewpot understand the attitude of the city toward the homeless population and the reflections of that attitude in city policy.

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Election ’08 and homelessness

The following is an article Cody wrote for Street Zine, a newspaper for the benefit of people living in poverty:

How important is the upcoming election for those who are homeless or on the brink of homelessness? Where do the candidates stand on issues relevant to homelessness? Some online research reveals that most of the campaign dialogue about homelessness focuses on veterans’ issues.

In 2007, Barack Obama introduced the Veterans Homeless Prevention Act in the U.S. Senate, which would provide measures for pairing housing with vets and veteran families at risk of homelessness. It seems that this bill is stuck somewhere in the middle in the Senate, although it has been passed in the House. On Obama’s official website, he lists his goal to “combat homelessness among our nation’s veterans” by providing housing and creating a more effective health care system. In the U.S. Senate, he served on the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

On the Democratic support website ActBlue.com there is a page titled Homeless Vietnam Veterans for Barack Obama, and there is even a blog titled Homeless for Obama, which seems to be written by a homeless woman from Long Beach, California. In her profile, her occupation is listed as “survival.” The blog shares the opinion that support for Obama is imperative to the homeless community in the United States. Another message from this blog, which is simple but so important, is that “homeless can vote.” These blog websites generally discuss Obama’s legislation on and commitments to veterans’ affairs and more accessible healthcare as reason to support him. While they are not sources of concrete research, they reflect a unique aspect of support that exists for Obama in the homeless community.

There is not quite so much enthusiasm evident online with regard to John McCain’s campaign, but as a veteran of the Vietnam War he does hold a certain amount of authority on veterans’ issues. Like Obama, he makes a commitment to homeless veterans on his official campaign website. He claims to have supported bills that lend aid to veterans in need, but does not list any specifics. The website OnTheIssues.org lists extensive commitments to reduce homelessness from McCain, but they are cited from 1998 and 2000 and there is no mention of similar commitments in his current campaign material.

Ultimately, both candidates make similar promises with regard to homeless veterans. However, there are countless other issues to base a decision of preference on. Check out the websites, and while you’re online request a voter registration form if you haven’t already. And remember to stay informed about local races, as well!

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