Kevin Chappell of Ebony Magazine was among the reporters preselected to ask Dear Leader Barack Obama a question at his Tuesday press conference. Here was Chappell’s question:
Thank you, Mr. President. A recent report found that as a result of the economic downturn, one in 50 children are now homeless in America. With shelters at full capacity, tent cities are sprouting up across the country. In passing your stimulus package, you said that help was on the way, but what would you say to these families, especially children, who are sleeping under bridges and in tents across the country?
Chappell’s question was based on a report issued by the National Center on Family Homelessness. NCFH asserts that about 1.5 million children under 18 are homeless, just over 2% of the roughly 74 million children in the US (total population by each year of age is downloadable at a link at this Census Bureau page).
Last summer, as I noted in a Pajamas Media column, an advisory group known as a civil jury in San Francisco inadvertently proved how detached from reality NCFH’s most recent scare figure is, and how generally bogus homelessness stats are, when it pegged the homeless population in the City by the Bay at (get ready) ….:
At the time, that represented 0.86% of the city’s population of 744,000.
NCFH’s 1.5 million figure relating to homeless children is credible only if a combination of the following is true:
- That homelessness is on average just as bad everywhere else in the country as it is in the homeless magnet known as San Francisco (cough, cough). If that were indeed the case, you would come up with a total homeless population of 2.58 million.
- That 59% of the 2.58 million are children, even though they represent less than 25% of the USA’s population as a whole.
- Alternatively, that the economy has gone so bad so quickly in the intervening 8 months that the homeless population, again still mirroring San Francisco across the entire country, shot up to about 4 million, and that 38% of that new number are children (still a rate 50% higher (38 ÷ 25 = about 1.5] than in the overall population).
That’s just crazy.
The advocacy group is clearly inflating the problem by a factor of at least 2 or 3, and probably more, either by playing games with statistics or defining “homelessness” to include situations that do not represent “living on the streets.” Even the San Francisco figure quoted above includes a majority who were at the time in a city-funded home — meaning that they really weren’t, well, “homeless.”
President Obama’s answer tacitly acquiesced to the alleged truth of Chappell’s/NCFH’s claim, which was covered widely in the press earlier this month (examples: CNN; AP via CBS). Obama also took a jab at his predecessor when he said that “And, you know, the homeless problem was bad even when the economy was good.” (Silver lining: He actually admitted that the economy was once good, though his minders will probably cop out and say that he was referring to the 1990s.)
By answering as he did, Barack Obama gave presidential legitimacy to Chappell’s/NCFH’s phony figure, and to a developing conventional wisdom in the establishment media that will probably have to be batted down frequently for years to come.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.