Daniel Ellis died. A snowdrift ate him. Don’t try to find his name on Google News, he won’t be there. In a country where media and journalists are more interested in making money than making a difference, people like Ellis lay dying on a cold sidewalks as the snow falls and covers the body.
Mr. Ellis, 56, and a long-time victim of the bureaucracy, walked away from St Elizabeth’s Hospital. He had been a client there, off-and-on, for 30 years and he was known to the staff and many patients. The staff at St Elizabeth’s is now busy playing a game of CYB, cover-your-butt, as they look for answers to Daniel Ellis’ death. The answers that they find will point to everyone, but them. Maybe that’s how it should be. While no one organization is responsible for Mr. Ellis’ death, collectively, there are many which are.
Daniel Ellis wasn’t killed by any action, or inaction, on the part of the staff at St Elizabeth’s. He was killed by the attitude that people in general have towards the nation’s homeless. Getting covered up by a snowfall just a few miles away from the Capitol Building in Washington DC was a crime that was committed by the senator’s, representatives, lobbyists and bureaucrats who are more interested in lining their pockets. The men and women who roam the marble halls of the country’s legislation chambers and are more interested in making a name for themselves than making a difference are to blame.
St Elizabeth’s Hospitawl is Washington DC’s psychiatric hospital. It was thrust into the public’s awareness when it housed John Hinkley, Jr., Ronald Reagan’s gunman who wanted to impress Jodi Foster.
Phyllis Jones, spokeswoman for the Department of Behavioral Health, said that when the staff noticed Mr. Ellis was missing, they started searching for him while they also filed a missing person report.
Jones went on to say that the hospital staff was “…reviwing the incident to make sure the protocols were followed…”. Bureaucratic-speak meaning “we’re busy playing CYB.” Washington DC Council member, Yvette Alexander, pointed the finger at St Elizabeth’s. Saying her “…concerns are with the personnel…” who were supposed to be taking care of Mr. Ellis that day, Alexander forgets that as part of the Washington DC power structure, she too is at fault for a man wandering away on a cold February day and dying in a snowdrift.
Homeless in Washington
More than 7,000 homeless people call Washington DC home. Their daily lives can be seen by anyone that is really interested in looking. There’s the woman who lives inside cardboard and duct tape close to the White House. Over on K Street are the panhandlers trying to eek out a meal from the suits and wingtips of power brokers more interested in the next big deal than in handing out a dollar. In McPherson Metro, a dozen people sit huddled under blankets using the heat from the subway to hold off frostbite.
Reason for Homelessness
The reason is easy to spot. Rents rising faster than income combine with government cutbacks on affordable housing to make finding a solution challenging. Homeless advocates in the District estimate than more than 1,000 new families will need shelter for the 2014-2015 winter.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a family would require an annual income of just over $56,000 to afford an apartment. The available apartments are easily within reach of the lawyers, lobbyists and government workers who have been moving into the District. The influx of white-collars has boosted the average household income to over $107,000. A family breadwinner, making minimum wage, would need to work 132 hours each week to afford the same housing.
While the lawyers, bureaucrats and advocates kick the can down the street and talk about the problem of homelessness, Daniel Ellis died. Eaten, not just by a snowdrift, but by the uncaring and static attitudes of the very people in a position of power to make sure no one has to die alone on a cold February day in the American capital.
Editorial by Jerry Nelson