Thursday, December 06, 2007

A choice we make for others

One of my neighbors, asleep.

Way at the end of yet another column painting Mayor Newsom as God's gift to the homeless and the people who actually work with people on the streets -- or are the people on the streets -- as pessimistic losers, San Francisco Chronicle columnist CV Nevius reports this exchange:

As I left the Homeless Connect event, I encountered a young man squatting on the sidewalk. I asked him if he'd gone inside. He had, he said, and it was very valuable, lots of services and referrals. He thought it was great.

And then he had a question for me.

"Spare change?"

That just about encapsulates homeless situation in San Francisco. The homeless will get housed when they get two things we as a society cannot or will not provide them:
  • Money.
  • Housing they can afford.
Yeah, some people on the streets are nuts or drugged up. Wouldn't you be if you had to be studied and talked about and patronized and serviced by a very comfortable bureaucracy -- but not housed? If they weren't crazy or addicted when they started, homeless people can hardly be blamed deteriorating until they fit our stereotypes.

None of us can take care of them individually, but if this were a country that cared, we certainly are wealthy enough to provide for them collectively. Guess we don't want to.

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