They came by way of the brilliant (and funny!) friend-of-the-Café Jason, j son of j, et.al. His email (reproduced with his permission) said:
Rainin and 50. Got a new tenant coming. Mom and 3 kids. Today. Fleeing a domestic thing and times up in the shelter. 2 r infants.
Having asked for clarification, he’d meant that they were ‘new tenants’ of the park where he and his fellow homeless street-homies live, but not in his tent. Survive. But don’t thrive, of course, even as j son of j values the simplicity of the stripped-down life a la Walden Pond in some respects. He’s noted the essential camaraderie in the park (even when some has gone awry to his detriment), heard stories from his neighbors, including their addictive self-medication to stave off the results of various illnesses and infirmities, both physical and mental, including PTSDs galore, rampant anxieties, etc. He’s not some journalist interviewing the homeless for a story, but he is one of them, offering suggestions, asking questions… when he deems it appropriate.
But let this sink in: Mom and 3 kids. Today. Fleeing a domestic thing and times up in the shelter. 2 r infants.
How does read this, hear this, know this…without raging at any and all of the parts of it? First, that there are so many millions of needlessly homeless in Amerika, second, that many of them are children and infants, and third: times up in the shelter?
Jason hadn’t said, but earlier he’d mentioned the Salvation Army shelter, with either 2 weeks or 2 months allowed before one has to vacate the premises. He’s also said that shelterees had to be out of the building at 6:00 a.m., no matter how cold or rainy the day is. Is that part of the Protestant work ethic: get out and get a job? Be a useful cog in the machine?
Now fancy that this was on Dec. 29, when the food banks would be empty, the free holiday dinners had already been held just before the holiday…hard enough for all of the homeless, but where is this mum to find nappies, medicines or even health care for her children? Or warm clothes, blankets, or even bathrooms to wash them up? It just beggars the imagination, doesn’t it?
Yes, we’ve heard that some more ‘enlightened’ cities are using citizen volunteer help to ‘count the homeless’, no small task when so many are living in cars, couch-surfing here and there, hiding.hiding.hiding from whatever real or imagined threats they’re facing. Can this mum get a WIC card or food stamps without a permanent address? Oh, I do hope so, say a prayer for that, at any rate.
How many homeless camps have been raided and shut down by police since the ObamaVilles of the post-2008 Great Immiseration? (We dare not call it a Depression; the economists have defined that only too well by now.) One doubts that there are actual numerical records, but many, many, of course. And it’s always a ‘Safety Issue’, isn’t it, not that it’s Bad for Bidness having those wack-job Rabble on the streets wreaking chaos and noise and dust and filth, oh no. How many get sent to jail for vagrancy? How many feeding the homeless on the street are warned not to, under penalty of The Law?
Irony alert: While seeking photos of homeless camps in Olympia, I stumbled upon this Nov. 2016 news from ‘enlightened’ Seattle: ‘Using convicts to clear homeless camps: Seattle human-rights panel raises questions’, seattletimes.com (my italics)
But can we call rampant homeless and poverty a direct result of capitalism? Or even an intended result, as some claim? Yes, we can, at least if we’re honest with ourselves. And militarism, of course: this year’s budget i over One Trillion Dollars, a Red-Blue Team Effort!
In this New Gilded Age, for instance, three of the wealthiest (in money, at least) USian multi-billionaires Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and [friend of the CIA] Jeff Bezos—collectively hold more wealth than the bottom 50% of the domestic population, “a total of 160 million people or 63 million American households.” Roughly a fifth of Americans “have zero or negative net worth,” according to new report by Forbes. Nah, they won’t help, they’d likely think: ‘Are there no Park Benches? Are there no Shopping carts? Are there no workhouses? Why don’t they get a job? ’ (I admit I’m agnostic on Buffet in my ignorance of his alleged past noblesse oblige ‘contributions’.)
I’ll leave them alone for this diary, hard as it is, (save to say that loads of the homeless are likely sick on accounta his love for GMO foods and their related poison big Ag products) and instead jump to Patrick Martin, Dec. 29 at wsws.org:
“As the [Christmas week] cold wave set in, city after city across the United States has reported record annual death tolls among the homeless. Memorial services were held in several hundred cities on December 21—the shortest day and longest night of the year—to mark these tragic events.
The cities involved include many that might not be thought of as centers of homelessness and premature death—Charlotte, North Carolina, with 28 deaths, triple the previous high; Nashville, Tennessee, with 118 deaths; Denver, Colorado, with 232 deaths.
These grim totals were dwarfed by the figure from Los Angeles, a staggering 805 deaths among the homeless, up from 719 in 2016. The city is the center of US homelessness, and particularly of those living on the streets rather than in shelters or doubled-up with relatives and friends.
By one estimate, documented in a three-minute clip posted on Instagram on Christmas Day, there are 20,000 people living on the streets in downtown LA’s Skid Row alone. The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty visited this area as part of his recent tour of high-poverty areas in the United States, and cited it as part of his report, which concluded that for many millions of people, “The American Dream is the American Illusion.”
Amen to that. But I tracked down the figures in the cities he’d named, and found that they came from the ‘Homeless Persons’ Memorial Vigil on Dec. 21, 2017.’
“Last year, NPR’s Pam Fessler attended a Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day event in Washington, D.C., organized by advocate Robert Warren, who lived on the streets twice in his life. Pam reported:
‘At the start of the memorial service, Warren, the organizer, noted that winter can be an especially difficult time for those living outside. ” ‘We know that there’s going to be folks sleeping out there in the cold, dying and getting sick, and it doesn’t have to be that way,’ Warren says. “Warren and others are pushing for more funds to provide housing for the homeless, although in cities like Washington, where rents are soaring, it’s hard to keep up with the demand. “No one really knows how many homeless individuals die each year, but about 2,700 were expected to be commemorated this year at similar events across the country this week. The homeless memorials have been held for more than 25 years. Each year, organizers say they hope it’s the last.”
But srsly, at the bottom of the page: Copyright 2017 NPR.
Jezum crow, what capitalist malarkey; as Jason had noted on the boards here earlier, even the servers in the free food lines have to do their virtue signaling like ‘Say, I’m working for the homeless commission, but it’s a tough row to hoe’ or whatever. Not likely, as the Lords of Capital will still be running the show, no matter Red or Blue.
Do the vigils help? Will Rev. William Barber and friends’ Moral Movement/ Poor People’s Campaign help? (On Twitter; full of ‘hope’) Will he/they indict the triple evils of capitalism, militarism, and racism as have MLK and many of the black prophetic gospel movement? And will that help? Stay tuned…
In the spirit of there but for the grace of the gods: many of us live with the wolf constantly at the door…and we’re one lost paycheck away, one uninsured major medical bill for ourselves or loved ones, foreclosures, we might well…be they.
But Happy New Year…for those who can manage it.