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August 21, 2006


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I always appreciate your column in the Metro Times. I work for SOS Community Services, an organization that helps homeless families in Washtenaw County (www.soscs.org). We as an organization struggle with the welfare reform issue. Many of the families we serve are headed by single mothers, and we provide services that train formerly homeless parents for jobs that will be sustainable. We have a partnership with workfirst.

In the past, some of the people in our employment program have gone on to be chef's and have otherwise been successful. But it is never easy. It is hard to find jobs these days that provide decent wages to individuals on welfare, let alone help find affordable housing and childcare. Indeed, these are intertwined issues that feed into the mix. I encourage you to view our blog, www.soscs.blogspot.com to see what some of our Board Members and staff are saying about welfare reform.

What is the answer? I couldn't say, but bringing awareness to the issue is vitally important. Thanks.

Thanks for your commentaries Jack, I try to listen most days, or go to the web to try and catch up on some of them. At least you are helping to keep some important and ongoing issues in our consciousness (unlike others in the news media).

Although I don't know a lot about many of the topics you address, I try to give them some thought anyway and occasional feel compelled to put in my two cents worth - measured in today's dollar's anyway - if I think I may have something to contribute to the discussion. On the welfare issue, I am still troubled by a lot of things, but am trying to keep an open mind about what's going on and I will try to be brief here in terms of my remarks.

Given that we don't even know how many people are actually homeless in Michigan or America, for that matter, it is possible that at least a, somewhat, sizable number of people (maybe 1-5%) that used to be on the welfare rolls are now entirely homeless and provided with no income at all. Also I don't think that anyone has done a study or accurate count as to how many (younger) people that may have been on welfare in the past, might be either dead or incarcerated. If anyone knows where I might find this kind of information, I'd like to take a look at it.

I cannot draw any firm conclusions, in my own mind, as of yet and I agree with Jack, that although things don't look like a complete disaster, it may be another 10-20 years before we really can find out how this latest of social engineering programs actually turns out. Let's hope for the best anyway.

G. Sachs

I think welfare reform is a complete disaster. The idea that everyone must pull their own weight is sickening at best. I simply cannot understand how the folks who claim to have a "pro-life" agenda seem also to be those who want to shred any social safety net that exists. I think Lessenberry is dead-on when he mentions Nathaniel Abraham's mother who, if not for her son's problems, would be featured in many articles about how welfare reform is a rousing success. It's amazing to me that we have spent over $300 Billion to flatten the cradle of civilization but we cannot provide for widows, orphans, the disabled, our returning troops and their families, the elderly, we cannot afford to help any regular folks in our own country but when it comes to no-bid contracts with Halliburton and Blackwater (DeVos relative) we have an endless supply of cash (Thank you, China!).


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