Very nice article, Johnny (“Carry On,” Dec. 3)! It hasn’t been easy losing Jimmy. Rock on! Jimmy would want that!
Helping the Homeless
The Federal Real Property Council lists nearly 80,000 properties as unused or underutilized. The annual upkeep of these facilities costs taxpayers approximately $1.7 billion annually, without a return on that investment.
In the meantime, over 600,000 people in the United States are homeless, and many more struggle on a daily basis to provide food and shelter for themselves and their families, with or without public-assistance programs designed to provide a hand up in the face of the always increasing cost of living.
A November report by the Government Accountability Office examined Title V
of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. This legislation was designed to identify and transfer unused federal properties to homeless assistance providers. Despite the fact that resources were expended on evaluating more than 40,000 properties, only 122 have been transferred to homeless groups in the 27 years since the act was passed in 1987.
Addressing an ongoing problem with an underserved portion of the population can be achieved. Just because a program with noble intentions is inefficient and underutilized, it doesn’t mean it should continue to be ignored. There is a moral imperative to ensure that every person has a clear path to meeting the most basic of needs: food, water, clothing and shelter.
In the meantime, despite the effort of some farmers, grocers and restaurants, unused food rots in fields and landfills across the country. The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (1996) shields donors from liability in the event of sickness from food contributions, provided that there was no intentional negligence or misconduct. Perhaps management at your local grocery store or favorite restaurant would appreciate the reminder. They may even qualify for tax deductions while doing their community a service.
This past July, a bill passed the House of Representatives that now awaits deliberation in the Senate. Proponents contend that the America Gives More Act of 2014 (HR 4719) would encourage charitable food contributions by extending and enhancing several tax deductions. Calling or writing your senators will help get this bill on the floor if you feel that it would incentivize contributions from people and places they don’t currently come from.
Some studies report that as much as half of the food produced in the United States is thrown away. Children go to bed hungry every night. There’s something wrong with this picture.
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