Joel John Roberts
Posts by Joel John Roberts
Our first-world society is really the irresponsible party. We let men and women who fight in our wars end up on the streets. We let kids who endure years and years of foster care with loveless families live in alleys or abandoned buildings. So is the case with women encountering domestic violence and seniors struggling with mental health issues.
It is truly wonderful that several cities have ended veteran homelessness. However, homelessness has increased in many major jurisdictions – and homelessness encampments continue to appear across our landscape.
Once again, homeless service providers are being looked to as part of the solution. Because, when policy changes and funding is redirected, the community still turns to providers to actually house people who are homeless.
An empty apartment is not a home. When students go to college, their parents usually buy them bedding, cooking utensils, clothes, and food—so they can focus on their studies. When formerly homeless persons move into an apartment, just like those students starting on a new path, their home needs to be fully furnished; in turn, they can focus on looking for work and rebuilding their lives.
As for Los Angeles, our city has not lacked in creative, hard working efforts to house its homeless population. In fact, don’t let these homeless numbers fool you. We should be commended for permanently housing so many people.
Living on the streets, for years at a time, can rapidly increase one’s age—turning any young adult into someone appearing middle-aged or elderly.
Perhaps, if we give away tents to everyone on the streets, we could hide them. We would just see their shadows. It is hard to put a face on a shadow. Shadows are easier to stereotype. They are easier to forget after we drive by them. Shadows sleeping in a pup tent are easier to label as lazy, drunks, or criminals.
I think that we sometimes spend too much time and creative energy on “helping” people who are homeless, rather than simply “housing” people who are homeless. The real solution is to provide real homes for people within our homeless population.
Do we market our agencies at any cost—even if it means reinforcing inaccurate stereotypes of homelessness?
It seems to me that if average American wages are not high enough to pay for the average rent—in the long run, all of our efforts to house those who are currently homeless will not end homelessness. We will simply be treading water.