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Bearing ON justice blog
It's not as if I haven't worried before about homelessness on Cape Cod, and tried to help in ways that I could, volunteering and donating money for Champ Homes, Housing Assistance Corp., and Habitat. But the news articles of the past several weeks have raised a new anguish in me, as I read about homeless camps being destroyed, for instance, with no plan for the people who lived there except to tell them to go to shelters (which are already filled and had no beds for them).
I tried to imagine what it must be like to be homeless and ill, and then to see what few possessions I had swept up and called garbage by people who have nice, secure homes.
It's time (again) for reasonable people to sit together and have reasonable conversations about what to do -- not to just shuffle the problem down the road, or move the homeless out of sight, but to find real solutions to house those who are homeless, and care for those who are mentally ill or addicted.
If you haven't seen it already, please read my new column in this week's Barnstable Patriot at http://www.barnstablepatriot.com/home2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=39869&Itemid=30
My column is short, so no room this month to discuss potential solutions. I plan to do that with next month's column, though, so I urge you to send my way any examples of solutions implemented in other communities.
I'll give you an example: I saw a news report a few years ago about a community in the northwest U.S. that built "tiny homes" for the homeless -- really tiny. http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/tiny-house-villages-for-the-homeless-an-affordable-solution-catches-on
Someone else told me about such tiny shelters built to the size of a parking space, towable, and placed on the parking lot of an abandoned mall. In fact, malls are closing all over the U.S., I read in the business pages, so why not convert some of those malls to housing for the homeless?
Please post here, or send me via email or snail mail, any other solutions you've heard about. Let's begin to solve this problem for Cape Cod, once and for all.
I am sick at heart to see the developments of the past couple months. Have we lost our compassion and humanity? How could the police move in to destroy the camps of the homeless with no plan whatsoever on what would become of the people living in these camps? Those of us with safe, comfortable homes cannot imagine what it must be like to live in such a camp, but to the homeless living there, these grounds were the best they could do, the only possessions they had, spaces that -- however meager -- were the only "home" possible. Now what will they do? Trudge the streets all day, all night… sleep in sheltered doorways until the local police officer shoos them away? It is unbelievable that in the richest nation on Earth, we could allow such things to happen.
Watch for my "Community Counts" column in the Barnstable Patriot next week on this topic...
“Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.”
~ Lawrence Ferlinghetti
After 14 years as President