homelessness public outreach

We Need to Make Them Famous, Too

When legislature goes through on a federal level, the most prominent politicians of this era undergo intense scrutiny not just from the media, but from the public. Months back during the government shutdown of 2019 in the United States, executive staffers and politicians lamented their inability to go out in public without being verbally assaulted. Government workers abound in Washington, D.C., so the local population forged an alliance that translated to hostility acknowledged around the country. However, once it became so uncomfortable for the politicians and executive staff to even leave their houses, they voted to reopen the government. Because of the egregious human rights violations already in practice, that was more Pyrrhic victory than necessary, but the message was this: unless the government functions for the good of the populace, the populace will remove its direct support.

Throughout the United States, homelessness is increasing. The populace is continuously fed the status quo agenda that no one can do anything about it. Conversely, there is a steady stream of activists who are working desperately to make sure that the homeless are nowhere near them. In three major cities, the upper classes–and some church attendants–have done their level best to avoid eye contact with the marginalized. Local governments have been bombarded with communication from these populations, and have responded favorably to those who have the resources to divert extensive time, money and energy to keeping people they disdain away from their periphery. Meanwhile, activists who fight and advocate to resolve homelessness are forced to live on the margins, constantly work for free, and observe how much louder money speaks.

No one should speak for homeless people because they have voices. They deal with not being able to perform the most basic bodily functions because the goal of those who have resources is to avoid confrontation with marginalization. Going to the bathroom is a trial because even though cities have ordinances against public urination, no one wants to look at people without money inside any business. Because some cities forbid them to sleep anywhere, they are often sleep-deprived–and then the dominant narrative has the audacity to debate their mental health issues as if people are unaware that quality sleep is basic health. They court theft and vandalization all the time because there is nowhere to relieve themselves of their belongings, so like Sisyphus, they are always rolling their burdens uphill. (This, of course, makes it even harder to facilitate job interviews, because society demands that everyone look like no one needs a job.) To add insult to injury, no one has any solutions other than to throw money at studies and offer tax incentives to developers who might accommodate them.

Meanwhile, all the activists who made sure that they never had to look upon a homeless person and who shrug when people demand a solution get to enjoy their jobs and outings with ease. While “no one can solve the homeless problem,” there is a solution for smug activists who insist on avoiding the consequences of their actions: make them famous, too. Put them all over social media, go to public places they frequent, and make it fiercely discomfiting for them to exist without seeing that no, their actions are inexcusable. Property values increase when the homeless population decreases, so there should be no issue, and yet, there is. Therefore, all those homeowner associations, neighborhood associations, churches, etc. that make it impossible to address an untenable lifestyle need to be put on blast that their behavior is no longer acceptable.

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