I saw the movie The Soloist with Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr. The movie is based on the true story of a newspaper columnist who befriends a mentally ill homeless musician. The portrayal of his life on the streets was very moving, and also provided a glimpse into the enormous homeless community in Los Angeles. Ninety thousand people are homeless there, enough to constitute an entire city on their own. In Seattle, we have about 8,500 homeless residents among us.
As a bankruptcy lawyer, I feel particularly compelled to do what I can to help end homelessness. Many of our clients at Resolve Legal file bankruptcy to avoid foreclosure, and we do our best to help our clients save their homes. Few of our clients, however, face absolute homelessness. In these deeply uncertain times, though, we expect that we will see increasing numbers of formerly middle class failies who will spend some time with nowhere to call home.
We live in the world’s wealthiest nation, and we should be able to provide a place for every one of our citizens to sleep. Hopefully, this movie will inspire people to do something to help change the shameful fact of homelessness: donate money to a shelter, call or write your legislator, volunteer.
Many homeless people, when asked, say the worst part is the way people ignore them, overlook their very existence. It costs nothing to meet a person in the eyes and wish them a good day. Merely by recognizing the humanity of a fellow citizen, we can make a big difference. Perhaps that is the most important lesson of all.