By Samia Warsame
Last month, 90-year-old Arnold Abbott, long-time advocate of the homeless and a World War II veteran, was arrested in his hometown of Fort Lauderdale, FL and charged with illegal food distribution. According to cbs.com, Abbott, along with two ministers, Dwayne Black and Mark Sims were handing out four-course meals in the park to the homeless on Sunday when Fort Lauderdale police surrounded the area, demanding Abbott to put down the food. “The police officer said, ‘Drop the plate’ like I had a weapon.” He later recounted on Southern Florida local television show WPLG, “It’s a mans humanity to man is all it is.” All three men face up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
According to fairfaxcounty.gov, a survey taken in 2013 says that 60 percent of homelessness in Fairfax County are families, and is has the second largest homeless population in Virginia. The website also says that the reason that there are a lot of homeless people in Fairfax County is that there are rising costs for houses and for people with low incomes, which means that they cannot afford reasonable living. Almost 82 percent of homeless families earn less than $14.24 an hour, which isn’t enough to pay for a one-bedroom apartment in the area. Counselor Daniel Zarchin said, “I think that the homeless in the area has gone up based on the status of the economy and increase in immigration.”
In Fairfax County, there are many programs that combat homelessness in the area, including the Hypothermia Prevention Program. Introduced in 2011, the program provides people on the streets with a temporary place that is equipped with food, a shower and a heater. The program also has a “no turn-away” policy when the weather hits below 32 degrees. Another program that helps homeless families is the Artemis Center. Created in 1985, the center is mainly designated for women and children who are fleeing from abusive partners. According the center’s website, they provide a safe, confidential and supportive counseling for their residents.
Although many states in the U.S. have passed legislatures that are intended to hurt the homeless, it’s fortunate that Fairfax County has a variety programs and places that help them and eventually take them off the streets and into a stable home.