As 2004 comes to an end, I am thinking about the A.J. Fletcher Foundation’s hopes and dreams for North Carolina in 2005.
Our list includes:
* Available drugs for people with HIV/AIDS.
* Clean needle-exchange programs.
* Day-care subsidies for the 30,000 children on the waiting list.
* Accessible healthcare for all North Carolinians.
* A reduction in the ratio of school nurses to students from 1 to 2,100, to 1 to 750.
* A significant drop in the 40 percent high school student dropout rate.
* Affordable housing for the more than 2 million North Carolinians who are homeless or living in unsafe places.
The Foundation’s priority for 2005 is to expand the North Carolina Housing Trust Fund, currently funded at $3 million a year. Our goal through our work with a broad statewide coalition is to increase that to $50 million a year.
What a difference this would make in North Carolina. It makes good economic sense to build affordable housing. And it is the right thing to do.
Consider the following letter from a 12-year-old girl living at the Salvation Army in Raleigh:
“In America, we shouldn’t have people sleeping in parks and shelters. It’s not right. ‘I think everybody should have a home. Some place to go late at night with no curfew, shelter from the rain.
“Many people are forced to move out of their house and apartments every day. People move into parks. Some times homeless kids can get kidnapped or stolen. Sometime families move into shelter. Shelter may become stuffed or overcrowded.
“It’s not safe for kids to be out in the streets. They can get colds, frostbite or they can get run over and die.
“People living in the streets have to eat food off the ground. People have to share bathrooms that can cause spread of diseases.
“How many more people have to die before we step up and do something about this? I think our government should try to keep families off the street, especially if they have kids. I know there are shelters but that’s not good enough for me. We should not stop until every family is in a home.”
I hope after reading or hearing this you will help me fight to get more people get homes.
Need I say any more about why the Foundation considers safe housing for all North Carolinians a priority?
Please know that when I go to bed Christmas Eve, I will be dreaming about the Foundation’s hopes for 2005.
Happy holidays, and may all of your hopes and dreams for 2005 become a reality.
Barbara Goodmon is president of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, which publishes the Philanthropy Journal.