The Forgotten Crisis: Nobody Thinks It Could Happen to Them

Sometimes when I talk to groups about homelessness, unless they’re activists, I get a blank stare, like I’m talking to a bunch of empty chairs or an empty room. I get it: homelessness isn’t sexy or trendy like climate change, gun control, LGBTQ rights, or even animal rights for that matter. Those are all important causes no doubt, but homelessness is forgotten.

It draws blank stares, or it makes people uncomfortable. They don’t know what to say or do, so they walk by it, ignore it, forget it. You really don’t want to think about it, you don’t want to see the homeless vet begging for a buck, or the woman with her small child in the subway, or the addict who obviously needs help, or the person who is mentally ill and in distress, or the young man or woman who are no more than 15 or 16-years-old huddling trying to stay warm. You don’t want to think of what they may have to do to survive. You think to yourself, they don’t need help, they want to be where they are, forget them, they don’t exist.

Well, maybe you should start to remember the homeless as rents rise and gentrification becomes  the norm rather than the exception. “The forgotten crisis,” as I like to call it, will be right at your doorstep. In fact, it already is. I get a real kick out of people who actually believe that the War On Poverty has been won or that things have actually gotten better. Many  privileged folks wouldn’t know poverty if it slapped them real hard in the face. This summer they should put down the margaritas, hop out of the pool, turn off Facebook and walk around a few of the major cities in America; they would see that not only is homelessness and poverty alive and well, but it is thriving.

Oh I know some work hard for those luxuries, but what happens if the places you work for go belly up? What happens when the Trust fund runs out? Stop reading statistics from these so-called left leaning experts on poverty, the ones that tell you it’s getting better. The real experts are the people living out here in it and those that work every single day to fight it.

Try reading about how there are parts of the so-called greatest country in the world where people are living in the kind of hell that you see in third-world countries,  where children are getting diseases that you only see in those countries and tell me how it’s gotten better. And things are going to get a lot worse if the Trump Administration has anything to say about it. HUD chief Ben Carson is proposing to triple rents on those receiving federal housing, a fighting proposition that will no doubt send poor, elderly and disabled people in to the street.

Already the housing crisis is bursting at the seams with people paying nearly 70 percent of their income to housing. Carson hasn’t even begun to address that, as Wealth Genocide against the poor continues. So this forgotten crisis needs to be remembered and addressed. Or those trust fund babies will end up out here with the rest of us.

James Shearer

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

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