WASHINGTON, DC—According to a study released Tuesday by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the nation's approximately five million homeless citizens are less important now than they have ever been.
Decreasing in importance by as much as 65 percent since 1992, the homeless are expected to remain at or below their current level of unimportance well into the 21st century.
"There is no question that America's homeless population, having no jobs, property, assets or marketable skills, has never been particularly important to our nation or its decent, non-homeless citizens," the report stated. "However, as they continue their downward spiral into degradation, indignity and destitution, it is clear that their importance, while negligible to begin with, is steadily decreasing."
"Considering that the homeless often do not even have the self-respect to not sit drunken in their own urine for hours on end," the report continued, "it is less than surprising that their overall importance is so minor."
The HUD report went on to cite a number of examples of things which are more important than the homeless, including: President Clinton's recent knee injury; the debate over bringing back instant replay to the NFL; next Tuesday's airing of the 1988 film Action Jackson on TBS; and the lack of affordable all-day parking in midtown Manhattan.
"Finding a reasonably priced restaurant that serves high-quality pasta," according to the report, is a whopping three times more important than the homeless. Even more notably, "having enough change in the car for the automatic toll lane in order to save valuable driving time" beat out the homeless in importance by a five-to-one margin.
The study's findings have met with mixed response. "This is an outrage," said Helene Cunningham, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Housing Now! "It is an insult to the human dignity of every one of this nation's urban poor."
Cunningham's remarks are not considered significant, however, as the HUD study also reported that people who work for relief organizations for the homeless are only marginally less unimportant than the homeless people themselves.
When asked if he disagreed with the evaluation of the homeless as unimportant, President Clinton replied, "Why, no."
"It is indeed difficult to imagine a demographic block of citizens in this great nation of ours that is less important than the homeless," Clinton said. "Each and every day, as I am escorted through the streets of Washington, I see filthy, ragged homeless people. They live in the streets like pigeons or squirrels, beneath the notice of not only myself, but of all Americans."
Added Clinton: "What kind of a person would eat garbage straight out of the trash bin, in public no less? A pretty low-class type of person if you ask me."
When asked how the Department of Housing and Urban Development would respond to the study's findings, HUD undersecretary Nathan Heffernan explained that the department's future policy would remain consistent with its current strategy, which is to focus on more important issues than the homeless and their unimportant lot in life.
"Unless, of course," Heffernan said, "one of them grabs one of our pants legs as we're stepping past him, demands money, and won't let go, in which case, standard federal policy dictates kicking and screaming, 'Get it off me! Get it off me!' repeatedly until police arrive."
The homeless themselves offered little or no reaction to the release of the HUD study, as most of them have no idea what HUD is, or for that matter, that the study exists in the first place.
According to Wagner, if a homeless person were to be asked about the report—which he stressed they would not be—they would likely say something unintelligible and drunken, vomit, then spend the night sleeping in that vomit. Upon waking, it is predicted that they would then resume begging and drinking.
"I think it is important to remember that each of us, regardless of race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, income, handicap, or family status, is a human being who has value as a person," said Diana Feeney of the San Francisco-based What About The Children? Foundation, "except, of course, the homeless, who are lower than dogs."