We met Pablo (street name) sleeping outside in Manchester, New Hampshire. He has been homeless for six years now. Pablo starts off by sharing how homeless people cannot stay in one place too long. Otherwise, they become a target. Instead of putting resources behind evidence-based solutions proven to work, politicians continue to push for the criminalization of homelessness.
Pablo wanted to do this interview to be a voice for the homeless, he says, because the homeless have no voice. Homeless people get kicked around. Pablo added that the stereotype people latch onto that homeless people are drug addicts or alcoholics. He continued that some of that may be true, but his next statement is profound. Pablo said, “For whatever reason, we’re here; we’re not going away.”
Think about that for a moment. The leading cause of homelessness is a lack of affordable housing, followed by a lack of a living wage, racism, a broken criminal justice system, broken foster care, domestic violence, not enough drug treatment or mental health facilities, and many other reasons the causes of homelessness, but the facts remain, no matter what the cause of a person’s homelessness is, unless we do something to help people get off the streets in the housing, homelessness is not going away.
A case in point is Pablo said Manchester police came and woke him up at 2 o’clock in the morning. They were NOT offering support and a place to go. The police just said if he came back, he’d be arrested.
Pablo is 65 years old. He once had a house, but after some bad decisions and a divorce, he ended up sleeping outside. Sadly, the population of elderly homelessness continues to grow. The day after this interview, I was speaking at an event where I talked about homeless shelters, which are starting to look like nursing homes. A street nurse came up and thanked me for saying that. She said they have problems finding bottom bunkbeds that are near an outlet so that they can run oxygen for the seniors who need it. Think about that., homeless shelters are filled with people who need oxygen to survive, and there are not enough bottoms or bunkbeds with electrical outlets near them.
Homelessness is continuing to get worse. That much we can guarantee. As it gets worse, so is the push for criminalization, which does nothing to solve homelessness. This is an urgent crisis. Every one of us must contact our legislators and put pressure until they prevent and solve homelessness.