Spare change.

by Isabel LaCoeur

One thing that has always disturbed me is the amount of contempt that people express towards the homeless, and how utterly acceptable it is to express it. No one bats an eye, it seems. It’s as though people think that they themselves are immune to financial crises or unexpected disasters. I can think of dozens of reasons why someone would end up in the unfortunate situation of living on the streets, yet most people’s imaginations seem only to stretch so far as “They just don’t want to get a job.”

Do you know how hard it is to get a job with no address? If that is too hard to fathom, I wouldn’t suggest trying to answer the riddle of how to get an address without a job.

“Even if I WERE homeless, I would never sink so low as to hang out on the streets, dirty and begging,” you might think to yourself. I would disagree. If you were homeless, hungry, had finally run out of people who would help you, and had come to the bleak realization as to how poor the resources for the homeless are in your city, you would beg. You would beg as though your life depended on it. Because IT WOULD.

It’s attitudes like “Homeless people are lazy, and deserve to be where they are because they have no ambition” that help ensure that the federal and municipal programs that help the poorest among us will continue to languish, underfunded. If few tax-paying, voting individuals care, then what incentive is there for the various levels of government to care either?

(I’m not even going to touch upon the stigma directed towards mental illness, that is an entirely different post altogether.)