Attitudes that the homeless citizens are stray animals who breed and come back to places that feed them are becoming more prevalent in society. “They are homeless because they are lazy” “god has turne dhis back on them because they are bad”, “The sins of the father are being visited on the son”, “If he had been a better student he wouldn’t be homeless”, “Those people are leeches who are spending MY TAX dollars.” . . . “I don’t know if it is illegal, I only know that I don’t want to have to see or hear about them.”
Personally, I have grown up with this rhetoric. One of my parents sees poverty and homelessness as a disgrace and personal failing that reflects a person's true value and moral character. (Never the less, I am a social worker for the homeless. Ha Ha!.) I lost a lot of my friends when I became a Welfare Mom and only now are these girls talking to me - ow that I have the shiny red car and a place to rent and a job. That all makes them much more comfortable around me, as if poverty was contagious . . . but that's not what i wanted to talk to you about.
LAWS making the symptoms of homelessness criminal acts are still on the books. Please, take your lunch break on Friday on the curb in front of your office or house. Did you know that is a criminal act in many place. Sometimes it is a crime only during business hours, other times it is a crime any time of day.
The City of Los Angeles, where I love, live and sometimes work – has recently spent $5.7 million on Homeless Services while spending $6 million on police dedicated to patrolling skid row and another $3 million prosecuting vagrants and locals (aka Homeless) for jaywalking etc. I would not be surprised to hear they tried to list that as an extra $9 million in Homeless Protection Services. I once watched five police men wait for a homeless looking man to drink his Starbucks Coffee just to arrest him for loitering within seconds of the last drop being drained.
It is illegal to camp in many cities – it is also illegal to sleep in your car. Apparently that thing they tell you in Driver’s Ed – to pull over and sleep if you are too tired to drive – is illegal. It is illegal to lie on the sidewalks or be in a public space or park after operating hours.
Although there may be no open public restrooms – it is illegal for you to urinate or defecate in public. While it is definitely gross, it is illegal. I am wondering if we could add public restrooms to all police stations so the general public (housed and unhoused) have a safer place to toilet.
It is illegal to share food in some places. LEt me call my kid and tell her not to share her lunch at school as it may be illegal in Orlando Florida. All the times my Girl scout troop camped out and ate out of the same pot, ot my friends and I had a party, or I gave sandwiches to the homeless are incidences of criminal acts.
So, don’t sleep, sit or lay down. Don’t need to eat or put anything in your body that may eventually need to come out of your body if you are homeless.
You tell me, will these laws:
1. end homelessness
2. force people into housing (can you CITE someone into a home?)
3. teach us to be hard hearted and continue punishing people who are already having a hard time (isn’t that called bullying?)
4. waste a bunch of money that could be used for ANYTHNG else – related to helping the poor or not.