Monday, August 26, 2013

Ryan Says Obama's Out of Touch With Poverty; National Advocate Agrees and Offers to Take Congressman For Homelessness Tour

For Immediate Release:
HEAR US Implores Congressman Ryan to Consider Homeless Families/Youth 
in Budget Decisions; Will Deliver Stacks of Petitions and Compelling Testimony to 
Janesville Office Friday. 

[Naperville, IL, 8/26/13] The faces and voices of homeless children and youth not seen or heard in the Beltway will be quite visible in the Janesville district office of Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Friday, August 30 as Diane Nilan, a national advocate for this invisible population, delivers hundreds of petitions and provides compelling testimony from homeless parents and kids nationwide.

Nilan and her motorhome

Nilan, under the banner of HEAR US Inc., her national nonprofit created to give voice and visibility to homeless children and youth, has chronicled homeless families and youth for the past 8 years. She travels in, works from, and lives in a small motorhome, dubbed Tillie the Turtle, and has amassed over 167,000 miles since she first set out in 2005. Following 15 years running homeless shelters and 2 years working with Chicago area school districts to ensure homeless students’ access to school, she’s taken to the highways to raise this largely invisible issue to a more visible level.

“Maybe Congressman Ryan does not know that at least 3,000 students in his district have no place to call home,” Nilan pointed out. “Wisconsin has a huge homelessness and poverty crisis, and I want to urge him to address it.” Her concern, however, is the Congressman is poised to slash programs that provide survival level services for the most vulnerable.

Since Friday, Nilan has asked her widespread network to petition Mr. Ryan’s office, urging him to at least meet with her, if not take a ride to witness poverty and homelessness in his district. Participation in her petition drive indicates she’ll have hundreds to deliver. She’ll speak with WI families, and film stories of their homelessness prior to her Friday meeting. “Sadly, homeless families and youth in Wisconsin reflect what I’ve seen everywhere I’ve been,” she lamented. “The most tragic part of this is how Congress, both parties, has seen fit to inflict more pain instead of addressing the causes of this skyrocketing crisis.”

This determined woman points to national statistics that support her claim. The U.S. Department of Education reported over 1 million homeless students identified in 2011-12, a steadily increasing number, especially during the nation’s economic meltdown. Foreclosures, medically related bankruptcies and unemployment statistics add fuel to her fire. “I’ve seen more shuttered businesses, for sale signs, and desperate people in my 8 years than I would have ever imagined possible,” she stated. “For Congress to continue to ignore hundreds of millions of Americans, including millions of people without homes, in lieu of tax cuts for the richest households is unconscionable.”

In addition to the pile of petitions and heartbreaking stories from across the land, she’s counting on the faces of children that accompany her, both on her motorhome and as life-sized cardboard cutouts. This respected advocate will do everything in her power to bring those faces and voices to the decision makers who hold the power to make things better, or worse. “I will ‘afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted’ as much as possible,” she promised. And on Friday, she will deliver.

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Contact Diane Nilan, 630.267.5424

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