Friday, December 22, 2017

Homeless Musical Chairs

As inequality continues to rise in the United States, more and more wealthy and gentrifying communities are declaring war on the homeless by essentially making the condition illegal.

 study in 2016 found more than 550,000 people are homeless in the US on any given night. Children make up about 25 percent of that figure. About 110,000 LGBTQ youth are homeless and 200,000 people in families.

That is not to say there are no support systems. Most cities of any significant size have a combination of public and nonprofit, private shelters, but capacity and rules limit the number of people who can be served. For instance, some shelters limit the number of nights a person can stay and others are closed during the day. However, municipal support is often begrudging.

A Guardian article analyzes a program increasingly being used by cities to literally bus -- or in some cases fly -- homeless people out of town. The Guardian drew its conclusions from "a database of around 34,240 journeys." In general, there does not appear to be rigorous oversight of these programs or follow-up on the well-being of the homeless people who take a free ticket out of town. Although some individuals find a more permanent living situation, many end up returning to the cities that they left because of a lack of support systems at the end of their bus rides.

Homelessness has a variety of causes, but it is clear that a more equitable society would have a robust network to assist those who do not have a permanent home. Therefore, a solution to homelessness must extend beyond what is provided within a given city. It must extend into a transformative economy that provides for those left behind in a runaway capitalist system. People's housing should not be subject to a game of musical chairs.

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