Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Homeless Should Sleep at Home

Mahatma Gandhi once noted that "the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members." Let's explore a little how the United States treats its most vulnerable citizens.

The City of Los Angeles is currently considering plans to ban homeless people from sleeping on many of the city's streets. These plans will make it illegal to sleep rough within 500 feet of schools, parks, day-care facilities and some popular venues. According to the Los Angeles Times this will mean at least a quarter of Los Angeles will be out-of-bounds to the city's most vulnerable people.

In Could Homeless People Sleep in Your Neighborhood? the LA Times has created an interactive map which shows all the areas of Los Angeles which could be restricted to the homeless under the new plans. The map shows the exclusion zones around every school, park and day-care facility. Enter an address into the map and you can find out what percentage of your neighborhood's streets will be restricted to the homeless under the new plans.

Another way that American cities tries to deal with vulnerable people is by dumping them on other cities. Thousands of one-way bus tickets are given to the homeless every year in the United States. In Bussed out: How America moves its homeless the Guardian newspaper explores the reasoning behind homeless bus relocation programs, their effect on the homeless and the impact on the cities where the bussed out homeless eventually end up.

As you scroll through the Guardian's article an interactive map automatically updates to visualize the results of the homeless relocation programs run by cities across America. This map shows the homeless rate in each state and the number of homeless arriving in cities across the country.

New York city spends the most money of any city on their homeless relocation programs. In fact New York doesn't just bus its homeless problem on to other cities it also give homeless citizens free flights to other cities. As with the bus relocation programs most of the people moved on by plane end up in locations where the residents have a lower than average median income.

Forget Gandhi's words, Americans prefer the saying 'out of sight, out of mind.' In the United States the most vulnerable citizens are treated as a problem which should be passed on to somebody and someplace else. In fact the vulnerable in America are dumped on those who are least able to help solve their problems.

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