Carol Forsloff — More and more cities are finding creative ways to move the homeless off the streets, off street corners, away from buildings, far from where people move and work, and removed from the byways of America. Is it against the law and propriety norms to be homeless?
As the number of shelters decreases, the rate of homelessness increases, with more and more of the once-working regulars hitting the bricks literally, finding a rude awakening in the rudeness that awaits folks who have nowhere to go and no one who helps. In Los Angeles, for example, as homelessness increases, there is an increasing lack of shelters.
In Portland, Oregon, homeless people have been shot and killed. In February 2012, two men were shot and killed in a drive-by. Folks find those who sit on the pavement those sitting ducks for catcalls and the harassment that is far more than the bullying we speak of in our intellectual discussions or listen to newscasters talk about the problem with their numbers and all.
So for cultural propriety, the problem of homelessness means a caste system of untouchables has developed in America. Don’t touch, don’t see, don’t hear, don’t move, get away are the non-verbal and verbal insults that greet the hapless homeless these days.
In Clearwater, Florida, the homeless now face fines for sitting on the benches. Sitting on sidewalks or near public byways can cost $500. Now who would think a homeless person would have $500 ready cash to buy that seat on the bench? The fact is they don’t, and those who don’t face the penalty of jail time, just as jails are dumping more and more of the wrong types onto the streets. So the revolving door becomes a continuous cycle for the unfortunate folk who can’t make do like the rest of us. So the good guys who can’t find work and a shelter exchange places with the criminal types.
So the next guy you meet with that cardboard sign might just be your former neighbor or you one of these days. And the story of “I am not my brother’s keeper” remains the continuing saga of the treatment of the homeless in the major cities of America.