Plane or bus tickets out of town have certainly been a method used to “reduce” homelessness, especially in destination cities across America like Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, and Honolulu.
Now, cities overwhelmed by people persistently living on their streets are taking extreme measures to rid their communities of this tragedy. The strategy is simple:
1. Build a 200 to 300 bed facility outside the city limits. Since NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) groups would go berserk if such a building was erected anywhere close to their homes, the location needs to be far, far away. It is the “out of sight, out of mind” approach.
2. Sweep the streets clean of homelessness. The “compassionate” shelter out in the boonies gives city leaders the moral authority to turn homeless people into quality-of-life criminals if they don’t want to go. As long as the streets are clean, society generally doesn’t care how it was accomplished.
Some say this strategy is essentially a resurrection of concentration camps. We are forcing people living on the streets to leave town and live in distant camps. I can imagine busloads of people in tattered clothes, peering out of the windows with resigned expressions.
They are the unwanted. Their lives are worthless in the eyes of society.
Others say this strategy exiles people who are homeless. That it turns them into political prisoners banished to a land far, far away. It is the Siberian solution to homelessness.
During World War II, our society did the same thing to a whole race in America, sending away 127,000 “enemies of the state” to internment camps in the desert.
Fear makes people do otherwise unthinkable things. Singling out a group of people and sending them away because of their economic state is not a solution to homelessness.
The fact that our society lacks housing that is affordable for all people, medical care that doesn’t force people to go bankrupt to pay for it, and a social safety net to protect people when disaster strikes does not give our leaders permission to sweep our suffering neighbors into remote parts of the country.
The reality is that the leaders of this country are the cause of the broken system that forces some of our citizens to resort to life on the streets.
I have an idea: Instead of sending people who are homeless into shelters or camps outside of the city, maybe we should exile the leaders who caused this problem in the first place.