Target: Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, et al.
Goal: Stop obliterating the only places many homeless individuals have to go and sleep in relative safety.
Just days before Christmas, homeless encampments are being destroyed by cities across the U.S. Because these camps are considered some kind of eyesore or nuisance, city officials would rather tear down the closest thing these vulnerable people have to a home than allow them to live in any kind of relative comfort or safety.
Homeless shelters are often not adequate spaces for these individuals to stay. They can fill up quickly in winter, leaving dozens or hundreds of people with nowhere to go. Sleeping on the street is dangerous and, in more and more locations, illegal. They often don’t have the money for transportation to another shelter or a city that cares about them. So what are they supposed to do?
Homeless camps exist because these people literally have no other option for any kind of place to sleep. Cities are failing to provide enough financial support to shelters so that they can expand to accommodate the growing homeless population. Many cities are installing spikes in covered areas or benches that are impossible to sleep on to deliberately drive them away. Police often harass individuals trying to sleep in public areas. All of these facts point to one disgusting truth–city officials just want the homeless to go away, and they don’t care how that happens.
Rather than helping homeless people get on their feet so they won’t need to sleep in shelters or camps, cities are simply trying to drive them away to areas where being homeless is even harder, and doing things like showing up for work is nearly impossible. With nowhere to go, these individuals will be much more likely to become trapped in endless poverty and homelessness.
This is an utterly heartless thing to do to people who need the most help. Demand that the mayors of these cities use their resources to help the homeless get homes rather than take away their last means of shelter.
Dear City Mayors,
It’s come to my attention, and the attention of many others, that you have participated in or authorized the elimination of homeless camps within your city limits. Many of these orders came just days before Christmas–a time that’s supposed to be about giving. Instead, you’re taking away their last means of shelter.
You should be aware that the reason these camps exist is because city homeless shelters do not have enough space for growing homeless populations. Where are those who are turned away from shelters supposed to go to sleep? They’re not allowed to sleep in public spaces, and now you’re tearing down their camps. It’s clear you just want them to leave your city, but transportation costs money they often don’t have.
And when more cities follow your terrible example, what then? Would you prefer the homeless to just drop dead so their existence won’t be an eyesore for your more affluent citizens?
Your actions are completely heartless. Homeless people need our help. They’re homeless because of failures in our government and our economic system. Taking away their last means of shelter doesn’t make them disappear, it just makes it even harder for them to get back on their feet. Stop condemning homeless people to a life of hardship–leave their camps alone.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Matt Harrop