Monday, August 25, 2014

171.8 - Outrage of the Week: making homelessness illegal and invisible

Outrage of the Week: making homelessness illegal and invisible

We finish today with the Outrage of the Week and while the issue is much broader than this single incident, it serves to illustrate. It comes from New Orleans.

An informal community of about 160 homeless people developed under an overpass in the city. Unfortunately for them, this overpass was only about a mile from the Superdome, somewhere football fans or other tourists might see them.

That couldn’t be tolerated.

So the city gave them two and a-half days to gather whatever belongings they had and get out. The city claimed there are enough bed in shelters to house them, but many of the homeless in various cities say the overcrowded shelters are worse than living on the streets.

No matter. When the deadline passed, city workers wearing gloves - and a few in face masks - threw sofas, armchairs, quilts, and whatever else they could grab into garbage trucks, hauling it all away to be dumped, leaving many among the evicted homeless with even less than they had before.

The city claimed that they did this because the area attracted rats, but as some of the folks there noted, you have rats wherever you have trash and that Bourbon Street has got a whole lot of rats which hasn’t resulted in either business or tourists being driven out of the area.

The timing of the eviction, with its absurdly short notice, was just days before the New Orleans Saints, who play at the Superdome, were to have their first preseason home game. That, of course, was purely coincidental. Of course.

This is just the latest example of a city – and there are dozens of US cities doing it now – in essence making it illegal to be homeless. Because we as a nation are more determined to make homelessness invisible than we are to end it.

And that is an outrage.

Sources cited in links:

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