Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Cold Night in a Box to Make a Point

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Cold Night in a Box to Make a Point

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

Last week, for the second year, Family Promise of Jacksonville had people roughing it in cardboard boxes in the cold and rain to experience for a night what the homeless go through for much longer.

Some, like kindergarten teacher Lynn Doiron, told the Times-Union that spending that night in a box with her husband "kind of changes your perspective on things," that "homelessness is a real thing that happens to real people."

Lynette Weber said the message she hoped to convey by sleeping in a box was "please be aware that our world has a vast amount of people who don't even have a cardboard box."

Whether people will be moved any more by the sight of Cardboard City than they are by the people living under highway overpasses remains to be seen.

Yet in trying to draw attention to the plight of the homeless, Family Promise tried to put the problems of the destitute back into the public's consciousness.

And that's more than what either presidential candidate did.


Virtually absent from the campaigns of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were the issues of poverty and homelessness. Romney even dialed up more contempt for them with his 47 percent remark and by saying the poor didn't concern him.

During the past few years, in fact, poor people have borne the brunt of being stereotyped as lazy and irresponsible, as victimizers and not as victims.

But what we can't forget - and what Cardboard City reminds us of - is that because of the lingering effects of the foreclosure crisis, as well as the slowness of the economic recovery, scores of people are still vulnerable to being homeless and impoverished.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the nation's homeless population was 636,017 in 2011. That reflected a decrease of about 7,000, or 1 percent, since 2009. …

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