Who is at fault really?


Overheard a conversation today. The homelessness in my area is increasing. The story I overheard was talking about people living in their cars at the local parking garage. People stepping over poop found on the ground nearby.  I listened to them talk about feeling for those people, but at the same time feeling for the other “normal” people who are just trying to work in that area.

I offered the comment that until we change our mentality about “how we help”, that the situation will remain.

Here is my position.

The reality is that we are always going to have people in our society who are either:

#1 Down on their luck / Going through a hard time to where they are unable to make things meet enough to keep  a roof over their head.

#2 Mentally impaired… again to where they are unable to keep things stable for themselves.

These people are always going to exist. If you don’t prepare your community to have situations where they can find help, or be helped, then you will continue to have people “with no place to go” present.  You can outlaw them, making their “being” criminal.. but when you do that, what positive thing are you actually doing?

You aren’t resolving the issue, you are just making it easier for people in better situations to not have to look at, or be as painfully aware that those less fortunate exist. You allow those more fortunate to stay blind to the fact that our societal dealings are not as well rounded and all inclusive as we like to think. That in reality there are whole groups of people whose sufferings, and in some cases, entire lives are being ignored. Devalued, because “they should try” to do better. We seem so free with our the “ought” judgments, but less able to handle admitting the root of real problems.

If you are not adamant at dealing with the reality of what is the root of a problem is, no matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable, then in my view your complaint has lost its credibility.

If your response is “they should just get a job”, or “they should be more responsible” then that to me means you have not investigated this issue enough. For some of these people, even those answers are either temporarily or permanently  beyond their capacity, and we can’t just pretend that people who are afflicted with with those issue don’t ever exist.

The reality is that the fact that they are collecting in public places trying to survive, simply means that it is an issue we have to dig deeper into as a society.

I beg the question. Who does homelessness really reflect badly on? Is it the people who are experiencing a current opportunity loss in taking care of themselves, or the society that allows it to happen, and encourages it to remain “out of sight?”

Symptoms of issues are just signs calling you to action. If you choose to ignore their pleas, you shouldn’t expect change or improvement.

The reality is, that if we valued systems that allowed for more self-sufficient and stable “hand up” situations that could help people needing assistance in rebuilding their lives we all would be better off. Things that would be more beneficial in resolving homelessness than by just passing laws saying they can’t sleep or be in a public area or by demonizing them and simply chalking it up to them being a “sub-par” human.

If we cared about public health care availability, to the point where there were places for sick and unstable to go regardless of how much money we could make off of them, then and only then is when we’d see valuable change.

Until we can divorce the meaning of value from being – how can I exploit this situation for my own benefit, to actually mean what healthy and lasting difference can I encourage in this situation.. then we won’t see improvement.

Sometimes issues are harder on us BECAUSE of the simpler ways of thinking we employ.

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