I agree, probably for different reasons, but I do find the sight objectionable. I considered seeing how far into this blog I could get before I needed to reveal just what I was talking about. I thought of different ways to play back and forth between the public-at-large and my point of view without defining exactly what we were speaking of, since that is what happens so often in the area of homelessness. But as noted, I (we) get enough of that in our day-to-day existence, so what we are discussing is the homeless sleeping in public at night.
This came to mind as I was speaking to several of my fellow homeless last night. It seems that the brick producer by the welfare office has decided to clean out those homeless that were camping in the bush by their facility. At least they were semi-reasonable in the way they went about this. They trotted out a front-end loader, ran it around the edge of the bush to attract attention and issued a warning that they would return in 24 hours to level everything. The reason for saying ‘semi-reasonable’ is that they apparently could not do this without running over and destroying at least a few things. On the other hand all too often others who want to move the homeless along have given no warning, no chance to retrieve their property, just destroyed it. And at this time of year losing what little shelter and bedding is a big deal. As I said at least they were semi-reasonable.
One regularly hears of camps and campsites around the city being destroyed to move the homeless along. The question is why does any rational person think this is going to accomplish anything? As noted, I was speaking to one of the people who had retrieved his stuff (now in a cart). Now I grant you he was not going to be spending his night camping out in the bush near the brick producers – he was now going to be spending the night on the street wherever he could find cover from the rain. At least until he can find another patch of bush to pitch his tent in – until he is rousted from the new location…… and so on, and so on, and so on. He was in the company of one of those the city chose to displace in their argument with the owners of the Fraser Valley Inn. As a result of the city being happy to throw the residents onto the streets but not to stand up and accept their responsibility for helping the people relocate, he has been sleeping on the streets since that time. Now he finds some sheltered spot to try to get some sleep, until the police come along and wake him up to move. After all it is an unsightly and thus not to be allowed. So he moves to the nearest sheltered place and goes to sleep, until the police come along…… and so on, and so on, and so on. Last night he was joined by the fellow rendered camp-less.
**Shake my head** The question is where else do they go? They are homeless with no other choices. One of the other people I know from the Fraser Inn displacement has been desperately seeking shelter since then. When I talked to her yesterday she was ‘distraught’, although that does not really convey how close she is to the end of her rope. I have encouraged her – both to keep plugging away and to get her story down so I can post it. Where do you expect them to go? She was displaced from the Fraser Inn by the city months ago, displaced from a campsite in the bush by the city, currently has a shelter that I would live on the street before I used and is struggling to find a place, but in Abbotsford a $325 shelter allowance makes that a long, difficult task –if you are lucky.
Of course there is the question of what else is going on when the police have to spend their time chasing the homeless from spot to spot instead of other duties. The question of, as all the camping spots in the bush are leveled, having more and more people wandering the streets at night and sleeping where they can – until woken to move on … and so on, and so on, and so on. Of course there are laws against this, so they can be arrested and jailed if you want to pay all the costs associated with this choice. But these costs are hidden as part of something the public likes, increased police spending and more people in jail. It appears the public would rather fool itself and pay these much higher hidden costs rather than examining the question in a rational way. Only by looking at the underlying reality of the situation (as opposed to what people think the situation is) and at the actual real costs of dealing with the situation (as opposed to only seeing the plainly visible costs and ignoring the ‘hidden’ costs) can we begin to make rational choices.
Reality is that the homeless do not just cease to exist when displaced they just have to find another spot, then another … and so on, and so on, and so on. You can displace and move them along all you want, but until you begin to deal with the underlying causes and they have housing of some form they are going to be an Unsightly Sight.