Current asked me to do a series of 5 stories I thought went underreported this year.
This time of year, media outlets publish their year-in-review articles and lists, looking back on recent history and reflecting on the major events that shaped the past 365 days. In fact, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism conducted a study of the year’s top stories and the frequency of each reported story.
However, for a variety of reasons, there are always some stories that slip through the cracks and don’t get as much attention. This is our list, in no particular order, of five stories that went underreported in 2011.
The first one is about child homelessness. Though this story has been picked up by many news outlets, it’s a story that should be played, posted, read every day until the rate of child homelessness goes down. Way down.
The number of homeless children in the United States is at its highest levels in the nation’s history, according to a study released last week from the National Center on Family Homelessness. 1 out of every 45 children is homeless. That’s a staggering number; a majority of them are under 7.
Click through to read the rest of the entry, as well as links to other publications’ coverage.
Reuters did a great story about this topic in the last couple days, but I wasn’t able to include it as I already filed my piece before it came out. Here’s a link to the Reuters story.
A report released this week by the National Center on Family Homelessness, “America’s Youngest Outcasts,” finds one in 45 American children 18 and under — 1.6 million — live on the street, in homeless shelters, motels or with other families last year.
That number is up 33 percent from 2007. The numbers come from the Department of Education and do not include unaccompanied youth.
About 20 to 40 percent of youth who leave home like Cocco to live on the streets identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), according to National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
In one study, 26 percent of teens who came out to their parents were told they must leave home. Others said they were physically, sexually or emotionally abused. The task force added that LGBT youth also reported that they are threatened, belittled and abused at shelters, not only by other residents, but by staff, as well.
Charities are naturally reluctant to turn down donations for fear of alienating supporters or demoralizing well-wishers, but the reality is that dealing with sporadic surges of cans is a logistical headache. A nationwide network of food banks called Feeding America gingerly notes on its website that “a hastily organized local food drive can actually put more strain on your local food bank than you imagine.” Food dropped off by well-meaning citizens needs to be carefully inspected and sorted. A personal check, by contrast, can be used to order what’s needed without placing extra burdens on the staff.
Can drives aren’t a bad idea, just not the best idea. I’ve done work in the pantry at our local homeless shelter, and let me say that throwing away expired food there is depressing. If you can spare a few dollars instead, always consider that.
Foreclosure lawyers mock foreclosed-upon families with Halloween costumes portraying them as hobos
Joe Nocera, New York Times:
On Friday, the law firm of Steven J. Baum threw a Halloween party. The firm, which is located near Buffalo, is what is commonly referred to as a “foreclosure mill” firm, meaning it represents banks and mortgage servicers as they attempt to foreclose on homeowners and evict them from their homes. Steven J. Baum is, in fact, the largest such firm in New York; it represents virtually all the giant mortgage lenders, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
The party is the firm’s big annual bash. Employees wear Halloween costumes to the office, where they party until around noon, and then return to work, still in costume. I can’t tell you how people dressed for this year’s party, but I can tell you about last year’s.
That’s because a former employee of Steven J. Baum recently sent me snapshots of last year’s party. In an e-mail, she said that she wanted me to see them because they showed an appalling lack of compassion toward the homeowners — invariably poor and down on their luck — that the Baum firm had brought foreclosure proceedings against.
“There is this really cavalier attitude,” Nocera’s contact told him. “It doesn’t matter that people are going to lose their homes.”
The attitude is, of course, disgusting. And it demonstrates what Occupy Wall Street is all about. If you think these people give a crap about you, you’re a fool. In their mind, the entire United States is just a support system for the rich. You’re not a person, you’re a crop. A crop they’re going to wring every kernel out of they can.
Once there are no more kernels to be shaken out of you, then you’re worthless — as a commodity and as a person. You become, in their eyes, contemptible.
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it until it stops being true; ‘baggers are chumps.
The government considers a family of four to be impoverished if they take in less than $22,000 a year. Based on that standard, and government projections of unemployment, it is estimated the poverty rate for kids in this country will soon hit 25 percent. Those children would be the largest American generation to be raised in hard times since the Great Depression.