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Robin Williams' 1990 Senate Speech Supporting Homeless People Makes Sense Even 31 Years Later

Robin Williams' 1990 Senate Speech Supporting Homeless People Makes Sense Even 31 Years Later

Presenting a serious issue with his characteristic humor, Williams left the members of the Senate in splits while bringing the message home.

Actor Robin Williams appears onstage during MTV's Total Request Live at the MTV Times Square Studios on April 27, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

The late Robin Williams deeply cared about the homeless and unhoused population. One particular clip of Williams from 1990 has resurfaced and shows him pleading the case against homelessness before a Senate panel. Presenting a serious issue with his characteristic humor, Williams left the members of the Senate in splits while bringing the message home. "What we've been doing for the last four years is basically putting a band aid on a very gaping wound. But this is, this program has incredible possibilities to deal with basically keeping people in their homes," Williams told the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, according to Newsweek. "The problem cannot be denied anymore, we cannot be a kinder, blinder nation," he added.



 

 

Williams sat next to another comedy great, Whoopi Goldberg, and both of them supported the Homelessness Prevention and Community Revitalization Act. The Act sought to boost funding for housing-based support centers for the homeless and to boost mental health services for them. It's not every day one sees a comedian speaking so intently and with such conviction about an issue. Williams added, "I do believe this can work in an incredible way, from a grassroots level, that the money can get to that and prevent, truly prevent, homelessness, that's where it lies. You can't keep picking people up, you have to stop them from falling. That's what I hope, thank you. I thank all of you in a bipartisan way."



 

 

Bringing in a laugh during his speech, Willaims aid further, "I know it's a little scary having a comic in front of you, it's kind of like having a porcupine in a hemophilic ward. I present just my simple soul and hope you do continue this in a bipartisan way." Willaims spoke from his own experiences as a resident of San Francisco, where, he said, the community he was living in was turning into "Death Valley" due to the rapidly increasing cases of homelessness. He talked about seeing families where the existing programs did not reach them and people living out of their vehicles. Many soon had to abandon the cars and be on the streets. He spoke about a broken nation and one that was trillion dollars in debt. He talked about comedy being the only "weapon" he had to try and make a change in the situation.



 

 

His fans commended how their idol's good work was getting traction even after his death. One Twitter user commented: These are the ones we lose because we make this world so harsh, so ugly, those with this level of empathy cannot bear it. To all the people who see the pain and suffering in the world and know we can fix it, even though we don’t... Please stay. We need you. Another wrote: Just love Robin Williams and such a powerful message.. What a shame that it fell on deaf ears and still the US deals with this terrible problem.. Prevention is indeed the cure. Stop wasting money on defense and corrupt politicians and give people a basic human need/right..!  Williams and a few of his comedian friends raised $80 million through their work in the non-profit, Comic Relief USA, since the 1980s.



 

One story that went viral on the internet was about how the actor had a clause for anyone who wanted to sign him on. The condition was that they needed to employ homeless people first. The fan had tried to contact Williams for an event and got hold of his terms and conditions. While he was not able to sign the late actor, it gave him a peek into his generosity. The fan, Brian Lord, wrote about the incident on his blog, stating he was touched by Willams' concern.

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