Stop Sweeping Away Suffering of the Homeless

Target: Xavier Becerra, Secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Goal: Support alternatives to homeless sweeps that place greater strain on Americans with no adequate shelter.

Denver earned some negative publicity for itself in the lead-up to the host city’s baseball all-star game. For several days and weeks before the event, officials ramped up their city clean-up efforts. In less nice and official terms, they conducted numerous homeless sweeps that left people without a permanent place to live in even greater flux.

In these commonplace city actions, tents and encampments where the homeless live are fenced off and the people inside told in no uncertain terms to leave. While many excuses are given for homeless sweeps, just as with the baseball game the driving motivation is image. These officials do not want anyone coming to their city to spend even a moment thinking about the rapidly rising numbers of people without adequate sustenance or shelter in America. In the past four years, this population has increased steadily, with the pandemic only compounding the crisis.

Intimidation and threats are not the answer for this humanitarian crisis. Sign the petition below to advocate for service and empathy and against literally sweeping this critical issue under the rug.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Becerra,

The nation’s homeless crisis is getting worse in towns and cities across America. This forgotten epidemic must be acknowledged. Instead, leaders in affected areas try to hide the problem rather than fix it. Scores of case studies and field work have shown that homeless sweeps do not work. They make the health, safety, and discrimination problems faced by the homeless worse.

Despite these findings, regions continue to force human beings from the only meager security they know through threats of arrest, destruction of shelters, confiscated property, and more. The very word “sweep” dehumanizes these citizens and likens them to dirt or trash that needs to be discarded. Alternatives have sprung up across the country. Non-profits in some areas help the homeless clean up their encampments and improve sanitation. Some efforts in Venice Beach have gained traction to provide low-cost apartments or other shelter to unhoused residents. And a proposed Oregon law would ban making encampment on public property a criminal offense punishable with jail-time.

Such visionary strategies lack a cohesive, broad, and federally backed effort to remedy the broken solution to America’s homeless crisis. Please invest resources and personnel and help create a comprehensive plan of action that can provide a national framework for fighting homelessness.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Mumtahina Tanni

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2 Comments

  1. Once a person is homeless (usually by no fault of their own), it is almost impossible to get a job. You have no address, no good clothing, no transportation, and usually, no money. We need to help these people.

  2. Evan Jane Kriss says:

    PLEASE try the tiny homes communities approach. Everyone is sheltered and responsible for the upkeep of their space, there is a tiny community house where they are assigned chores in the community and where they can receive information about job training and education opportunities. The only way out is with a helping hand, not a handout!

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