Urgent: Please deliver to Michael B. Hancock immediately.
Your regularly scheduled,
Message to the Mayor
”Over the next four years the current Pandemic Recession is projected to cause chronic homelessness to increase 49 percent in the United States, 68 percent in California and 86 percent in Los Angeles County.” -Economic Roundtable
What are we doing to prepare for this expected increase in people across the United States soon becoming homeless? In Denver, we’re traumatically displacing people multiple times a week and criminalizing their existence – just come to a Denver City Council meeting and hear how much the city cares about the lives of our unhoused neighbors (cue crickets).
If you’re about to say something about shelters, let me just stop you and encourage you to look into the number of beds available in your city tonight, the cost per night, per person, sleeping in a shelter to a city or organization, and the effectiveness of reducing homelessness when relying solely on shelters as the solution. Let me know when you’re done with your research.
When homelessness is viewed as an individual problem, one that is the result of someone’s personal life choices or misfortune, we remove ourselves from their experience and mute the conversation about what can be done to help. When we think we are above potentially ever becoming homeless, we are flexing our privilege, creating distance by ostracizing in our minds the lives of our unhoused neighbors, feeding an imaginary “other,” and upholding a cruel caste system predicated on members of the lowest caste staying down, where the designed system has always intended they remain.
I’ve met a lot of people who say they are progressive, say they are against white supremacy, say they think the criminal justice system is unfair, say that everyone deserves healthcare, and are the first to know exactly what needs to happen in education to ensure more equitable outcomes in schooling.
When it comes to homelessness, however, people seem much more comfortable treating fellow community members living on the streets like trash–“clean-ups” by the city have literally been coined “sweeps.” Enough said. The term doesn’t begin to capture the traumatic displacements that they really are.
When wildfires hit communities across the country this year, we saw thousands of people become homeless overnight. Groups across the country made financial contributions to victims, rushed to help in person, donated RV’s, living supplies, food, and water, and some even offered housing…I am so happy that we live in a country where this kind of response is possible. And for this reason, I know we don’t need wildfires to help.
It doesn’t have to be this way. It hasn’t always been this way. We don’t just sit by and watch everything burn from wildfires without doing everything in our power to stop the spread.
So why would we think it’s acceptable to sit by and watch the spread of homelessness without doing everything in our power to stop the spread? What do we gain from that? What is Mayor Michael B. Hancock getting out of this? How does he sleep at night, seriously, how? He has so much blood on his hands. And if projections are correct, he’ll be drowning in it soon. This is your regularly scheduled broadcast and #MessageToTheMayor -> #StopTheSweeps. NOW.
A letter by Tess Dougherty.