Global Turbulence: How Easy It Is To Become Homeless

One day you are in Paradise; the next day Paradise is aflame and everyone who lives there is either homeless or dead. There are many homeless people in California but now, a whole town named Paradise has been burnt to the ground and nothing remains.  In the outlying areas, there are tent cities in Walmart parking lots.

Homelessness can happen to anyone these days. Many people are just a few paychecks away from homelessness, but most of us knew that already. Now, in today’s world, we are just a flood away; a fire away; a windstorm away; a tornado away from homelessness. It’s just that quick and all of a sudden families find themselves in a world that they never considered would happen to them.

Paradise, California is now more like Ashes, California and most of the people who lived there are in tent cities. There was a football team at Paradise High School named the Bobcats that had just earned a playoff slot. Their season was loaded with wins, but now the team is scattered in the tent cities and the majority of the players are homeless. School has been out since November 8.

Paradise High School is ashes and the students are about to resume classes in a shopping mall in Chico, Calif. There is a man named Bob Wilson, a California businessman and restaurant owner, 89-years-old, who sat down at his desk and wrote 1,085 checks for $1,000 each for every student, teacher, administrator, custodian and even the bus drivers from Paradise High School, according to the Boston Globe.

Bob Wilson is a good man but $1,000 will not put a roof over your head in the ashes of Paradise. Of course, every little bit helps and I hope that everyone who lost their home in that conflagration will be housed comfortably before people forget about what happened and before the people who were burned out become the forgotten homeless like so many on the streets of our country.

Our president, the Trump card, doesn’t believe in global warming. He is like an ostrich with his flaming red hair stuck in a hole in the ground. He denies all things about climate change. He pulled us out of the Paris Accord and is in the process of putting the United States deeper in debt.

The people of this country watch stunned, as storms flood our cities and wipe out homes, as gas fires take away the homes in Lawrence, Andover and other places in Massachusetts creating more homelessness.

Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa is coming and this is supposed to be a time of celebration. Many people went shopping on what they call Black Friday, which now lasts a week or more. Where are the homeless people going to celebrate and how can they join in the festivities as they travel the bureaucratic maze to get housed again? Paradise? I think not!

The Columbia Gas Company said that they would have everyone in their homes, the ones that are still standing, by Thanksgiving, but that did not happen. Now they say sometime in mid-December is their new deadline. But the people of Lawrence and Andover who are now experiencing cold temperatures in their makeshift shelters, if they have them, are still waiting and suffering while the gas workers brought in from other states are living on a luxury liner based off the coast of Massachusetts.

It makes me wonder why they haven’t brought in luxury liners to house the people of the gas ravaged communities so they can have their holidays in better living conditions. But that isn’t happening, is it?

In New England I’ve noticed the increase in rain storms with high winds. The scientists say this is just the beginning of what we will experience. They say that urban areas are threatened by extreme precipitation events and recurrent flooding which will cause many in the cities to become homeless for a time. People may have to be relocated. How long will that take, and in what conditions will people have to live, while they wait to be relocated?

Communities of all types across this nation are facing extreme environmental challenges due to the changing climate. How many cities and towns will be affected and in what ways will they be able to cope with the changing climate?

But this is the holiday season and I should not burden you with these thoughts and possibilities. Look, just go shopping and close your minds to these terrible thoughts. Enjoy yourself. After all, what could go wrong? With all the new technology at our fingertips, is this not Paradise? Oh, Paradise was that city of 30,000 in California that is now homeless.

Homeless can’t happen here, right? But ask the people of Lawrence if it can’t happen there and they may have a different story for you. In the meantime, just go shopping. Or maybe there is something you can do to help. Time is getting short and we need to look at what is happening all over the world. After all, we are all part of the global community, are we not?

How about we do something positive for someone this holiday season, and when the holiday season is over, keep doing good works!

Marc D. Goldfinger is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change news. Formerly homeless, he serves as the paper's poetry editor.

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