They were talking about the homeless being thrown out of a camp called “The Jungle” the other night on a San Francisco Bay Area talk show (one of the few liberal talk shows left on radio). The camp is in San Jose. The talk was of throwing people out who had no place to go.
And if you really think about it, the plight of the homeless is closer to home than many of us would prefer to imagine. So many people are about one paycheck away from being homeless. And if you don’t have family to turn to — what would you do? Well you’d be homeless no doubt.
Here’s the deal: people are homeless for all kinds of reasons. Some are mentally disturbed — well a lot are. Many are alcohol and drug addicts. Many have troubles with the law. Some are runaways. Some are just down and out. And perhaps some souls just want to live that way.
Maybe it’s not against the law to be homeless — although back in the old days it was — remember the vagrancy laws? — but it ought to be against the law to create a public health hazard, a nuisance, and a threat to people who have homes.
I am familiar with the situation in the city in which I live and the plight of at least one person, whose name I will not use. She lived in a modest apartment near a creek. The homeless at some point made their camps down along that creek. Then the police moved them out of there. So what did they do? They started hanging out at a low-cost apartment complex adjacent to that creek. They slept on the sidewalks in front of that apartment. They hassled and even threatened the residents. The woman I mentioned feared for her safety and left. The police did respond to calls, but they can’t stand guard 24-7. And of course the slum lords are no help.
And you have to ask yourself: where do these people go to the bathroom? Or more specifically, where do they relieve themselves of their bodily wastes? Well, does a bear go doo doo in the woods?
The strange thing about some of these homeless people is that although they have to scrounge for food, many of them have pets. But that is another story.
As colorful as some of the homeless may be, overall they cause a blight on the community.
I think it is society’s responsibility to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. And on that account, it seems we are falling short. I for one would favor camps and shelters for them funded by the public. But of course there would have to be rules, and those who could do productive work should be put to work and given some kind of training.
Years ago I believe at least one county in California (Sacramento ) tried to make living in a county shelter a requirement for public assistance (for those without shelter already) but was thwarted by at court decision that held people could not be forced to live somewhere.
I don’t think anyone should be forced to live anywhere either. But if you choose to live out in the wild then you have to also respect the rights of the rest of society.
And back to the precarious situation of being one paycheck away from homelessness. People ought to realize how important family is. And as a nation we should rededicate ourselves to the proposition of strong families. I think that in the name of personal freedom and instant gratification there has been too much thinking about self and not about us.
Individuals should be responsible for themselves, and families should be responsible for their own, and then society as a whole should be responsible for its members, but in that order.