Recent news stories about vigilante tactics to combat homelessness show that in a society so used to quick fixes, some think it’s acceptable to use violence to address social problems. In Honolulu, State Representative Tom Brower has taken to the streets with a sledgehammer, destroying shopping carts because he is “disgusted” with homeless people. And right here in New York City, where we have made incredible strides in housing people that have been on the streets for years, a legendary bookstore has allegedly used sprinklers under its awning to douse people sleeping beneath it. In both instances, neither party is willing to look at the issue of homelessness as a massive social problem that requires compassionate solutions.
Homelessness is a huge sign that there is something terribly wrong with our society. So is violence. New York City and Honolulu have the highest cost of living than any other major cities in the United States. In cities with such tremendous wealth, there is also extreme poverty and homelessness. The solution is obvious and simple – people need safe, affordable, permanent housing. Rather than turning to violence, we need politicians and businesses in our communities to join us in recognizing that ending homelessness is possible, but it takes all of us to make it happen.
– Kristen Edwards
Associate Director, Homeless Programs