Saturday, January 30, 2010
You take my homeless, and I'll take yours. Yeah, sure.
The police department’s three-man Homeless Outreach Team will be working with people who have family members or friends in another city willing to take them in, and who just don't have a way to get there. The team is hoping some 25 to 30 homeless people will take advantage of the offer, which is funded by the Salvation Army through a grant. Some 300 to 500 people are estimated to be "camping out" in the Colorado Springs area.
Lancaster, California, a small city of 145,000, operated a similar program last year. The city's mayor felt as if the City of Los Angeles, an hour to the south, was sending their own homeless to overwhelm Lancaster's homeless. But most of the homeless people who took advantage of the offer were local people who chose to go somewhere else.
For every touching story of a daughter who discovers her long-lost father in a homeless shelter and welcomes him in to her loving home, there are ten homeless people who can't go home again. Maybe there is no home to go to, parents and siblings dead, or scattered to the winds. Maybe families are why a person is homeless in the first place-- shelters have their share of the young, runaway victims of abuse. Sometimes homeless peoples have slammed the door shut themselves, or had it slammed on them because of their own behavior.
But what if every homeless person went back to the city in which they were born? Or in which they'd spent most of their lives? The affluent communities, the small towns, the capital cities: what would you do if all the homeless people came home?
Photo from DavidX Zhang's photostream at Flickr.