This report on WBEZ this morning is heartbreaking. It is difficult for all of us to see people sleeping outside – whether in tents, parks, on sidewalks or in doorways. However uncomfortable it makes us to see people sleeping outside, the answer is not to sweep away their tents, blankets and belongings. They will come back because they have nowhere else to go. Most importantly, they are citizens and they have rights. It is not true that people want to live outside. They make choices from options that they believe are available to them. People who are homeless are not the problem. The lack of affordable housing and services is the problem. But, we can fix this problem if we want to.
Those of us in homeless services will continue to make our voices heard and to support people with the lived experience of homelessness to make their voices heard. Make your voice heard too. Tell your alderman to support affordable housing development in your neighborhood. Let them know that you do not support taking away the tents and belongings of people sleeping outside. Call and visit your state legislators and ask them to support human service funding. Homelessness cannot be swept away. It is an issue with a solution. Housing.