Opinion

We Need to House Abandoned Americans Because #HomelessLivesMatter

By | Mar 10, 2015

2931776_c2776c0dThere you are. Slumped over on that storefront porch. I see you there. Curled up like a sleeping cat behind that trash bin. Your makeshift tents are visible, but your humanity is hidden behind a thin polyester wall.

Sometimes you are in plain sight. Other times you blend into the urban landscape.

Most of us walk by you, as if you are just a clump of rags tossed onto the street. We ignore your cardboard signs and sad faces at the freeway off-ramp. We’re too busy trying to get home.

Sure, we count the number of homeless people each year. We feed you on Thanksgiving Day. We volunteer at the soup kitchen.

In fact, at one time we were so serious about ending this human dilemma that we created a ten-year plan to abolish homelessness. After a decade of hyped initiatives, we are still struggling as to what to do with the scores of people without homes.

I wonder if we have basically abandoned a whole segment of America’s population? Clearly, we cannot simply ignore them. Homelessness has become too visible.

Instead of dealing with the issue we “demonize” the victims. We blame them for their state of homelessness and for not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Or we blame them because they are “crazy” or “addicts.”

Frankly, I think we have abandoned them. I know. I was once was abandoned myself. At the beginning of my life—you know, that infant time when you have no recollection of life—I was abandoned by a birth parent.

In talking with other people who possessed the same life experience, I found out that in Asia during the time I was born, babies were deserted by impoverished birth mothers. We were placed in theater lobbies, on the footsteps of churches, or on storefront porches.

I can picture those bundles of blankets wrapped tightly around a tiny human, placed on the footstep of a store or a temple. A person walking by could very well have thought we were a bunch of rags tossed on the streets.

But we were lucky. Many of the abandoned children in Asia were adopted by Western families. How can you turn your back on a child left family-less, home-less?

We, babies, were certainly given housing. “Housing First” is not a new phenomenon. But more importantly, we were given families—a new community of humans who took us in as their own.

Today, when I walk or drive by those bundles of humanity who are homeless on our streets, I think of my own life’s beginning. I wonder if other people had walked by me bundled up on some step in Asia, ignoring my existence.

Today, I wonder why America—a society that is so sophisticated, wealthy, and compassionate—doesn’t pick up its lost humanity on the streets and connect them with housing and with the community of humanity.

You, who are homeless. There you are. Slumped over on that storefront porch. Years ago, there I was bundled up on that step.

I wish our society would pick you up, provide a secure home, and connect you back to humanity.

Just like me. Because #HomelessLivesMatter.