27 November 2011

Occupy and the Homeless

So I was reading this Huffington Post article on the way that Occupy has been perceived as having a "homeless problem" or as being a problem because the most disadvantaged members of our society are flocking to it. First two paragraphs:

As cities around the country have swept Occupy Wall Street camps from their plazas and parks in recent weeks, a number of mayors and city officials have argued that by providing shelter to the homeless, the camps are endangering the public and even the homeless themselves.

Yet in many of those cities, services for the homeless are severely underfunded. The cities have spent millions of dollars to police and evict the protesters, but they've been shutting down shelters and enacting laws to prohibit homeless from sleeping overnight in public.

...and a friend (thanks, CB) posted the following on Facebook:

If you don't "like" your local occupy encampment, because you think it's dirty, or you're worried it's unsafe, what you don't really realize about yourself is that you just don't like SEEING it. All those people who are attracted to the camps because they are homeless, would still be homeless if the camps weren't there. These are the people you see sleeping under bridges (yes, in tents) or in door...ways. People are dying of drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, preventable illness, and exposure, all over the country, every single day, because there is some faux ethic that homeless people don't deserve our help because they are "willingly" homeless, or should just "get a job". By putting everyone together in a camp, homeless kids, hippy college kids, old men, and homeless vets, your local occupation is just drawing your eye to what is already going on around you, but just out of your ordinary vision. If it disgusts you, or worries you, or scares you, GOOD. Now instead of breaking up the camps, or shutting down yet another homeless shelter (Seattle lost 15 shelters on the 1st of October, that's 300 beds; the same day #OS started), come up with a way to fix the problem instead.

I think there's a lot of truth to that.

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