Remember Them?

As I sit here putting together another column, the city of Boston and the entire state is being hit with our first real winter storm of the season. I can’t help but think of the homeless caught out in it—just this very morning, I saw a video of a group of homeless people and advocates being tossed out of South Station the night before the storm. This was after the city of Boston said it and other MBTA stations would remain open for those who couldn’t get to or didn’t want to be in a city shelter.

Miscommunication, perhaps?

Maybe. And I know there are those of you who will ask, “Why wouldn’t they want to go to a shelter?”

Well, go undercover in a shelter for about a week, and I guarantee you’ll never ask me that question again. As far as miscommunication is concerned, it speaks, in my humble opinion, to a bigger issue: homeless people are just not a priority. I know a great many of you will disagree, but think about it: wouldn’t anyone who makes a commitment to ensuring that homeless people are safe, warm and dry make absolutely sure that happens?

Before anyone gets their you-know-what in a bunch, I didn’t say that the mayor of Boston doesn’t care about the homeless. But somewhere along the line, someone forgot to make sure his words would be put into action. Call it miscommunication, dropping the ball, falling asleep at the wheel—whatever you wanna call it—a group of homeless people ended up on the street in the middle of the night before the biggest snowstorm of the season. That’s called a lack of priorities, which suggests that homeless people are not that important.

And it’s about to get a lot worse.

It’s well known to me and many of my colleagues that no matter who sits in the Oval Office, homeless people are not exactly on the Leader of the Free World’s to-do list. Yes, speeches are given, promises are made, and there’s even some advancement here and there, but like the so-called War on Drugs, the Fight to End Homelessness is a lot of hot air. And now, with the current administration playing out like a nightmarish episode of “Family Guy,” homelessness is really going to get put on the back burner. Nevermind the fact that the head of HUD is a brain surgeon who has very little or zero experience when it comes to dealing with the issues of homelessness and poverty. And no, being considered a genius at something doesn’t automatically make you an expert on everything else. If it did, I wouldn’t have ended up on the street.

As many rally and protest against Donald Trump and his inflammatory executive orders, homelessness sinks lower and lower until it’s the last thing on people’s minds. A few weeks ago, a homeless man was beaten by a security guard in Boston’s North Station. The guard was arrested, the security company’s contract was revoked, and everyone turned back to the protests against Trump. End of story? It shouldn’t be. A person’s rights were violated.

People are still being thrown out in the cold. People are dying in doorways, bathrooms and subways. Many people are living in unsanitary and in some cases unhealthy conditions. More people are at risk of becoming homeless because of economic hardship and out-of-control rent hikes, and gentrification is snatching the land out from under our feet. Homeless families are forced to seek shelter in emergency rooms while our local leaders tell us things are getting better.

We should fight the disaster that’s happening in Washington with all our might, but we must not forget the ones here on the street or in poverty who need us to wage war for them.

Remember them.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

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