James Shearer, coordinator of the new Massachusetts Union of the Homeless and chair of the Massachusetts Poor People’s Campaign’s Homeless Committee, is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News, where this editorial first appeared. It is republished here with permission.
By the time this issue of Spare Change hits the streets, this country will have voted, the mid-terms will have passed, and we will know whether checks and balances have been somewhat restored in Washington, or if a runaway congress led by a tyrannical racist buffoon will continue to be the order of the day. Either way there is one thing I can assure you: that no matter what outcome happens homelessness and poverty will remain the same.
Someone tell me, when is the last time we had a candidate for any office, or any candidate campaign around homelessness and poverty? Especially homelessness?
Now I’m not saying that all politicians don’t care when it comes to people living on the street, but they usually don’t last long. Or once they achieve higher office they forget about the guy shaking the cup or the woman sleeping in a car with her child to escape violence at home. Bills are filed to combat homelessness in the State House but most languish or never get heard, and some bills and policies don’t have the backing of shelter advocates so politicians feel free to push them aside. Many profess outrage when a crisis hits regarding homelessness but the outrage quickly dies out.
Take Long Island Shelter for example, which was shutdown four years ago. At the beginning of the year, Mayor Walsh spoke of rebuilding the bridge to the island, and after that cold stretch last winter when South Station became a makeshift shelter, it was welcomed news. It took six months before a hearing was convened before the city council to discuss the matter, and by then you had to wonder if it was again just lip service. With vocal opposition from Quincy, there didn’t seem to be any real plan and also no plan to restore the shelter services that were there (the current plan is to restore addiction services). I don’t know about you, boys and girls, but I don’t think those running for office even care about homeless and poor people unless it affects their poll numbers. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen the progressive savior Bernie Sanders talk about homelessness and before you Bernie-bots even get unglued, remember that homeless people to many are the bottom of the 99 percent; to many they don’t even exist.
What can you do about it? The next time you wanna run out and support a candidate, ask their position on homelessness and how they can solve this. Their answer will tell you not only if they care about homelessness but also if they really care about you. Remember, everyone is just a paycheck away.
The next time you wanna run out and support a candidate, ask their position on homelessness and how they can solve this ... Remember, everyone is just a paycheck away.