MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Buzzflash has published many columns about the nationwide war on homelessness: a push to render homeless people invisible by displacing them from economically comfortable residential, business and recreational areas. Increasingly, even feeding those who are hungry has become a crime.
A December 10 column in BeyondChron draws attention to "the eviction of what has been called America’s largest homeless encampment: 68 acres of creek-side property inhabited by some 300 men, women, and children residing in tents, shanties, and underground adobe dwellings."
This is occurring in San José, California, and is representative of the expanding attempts to remove homeless individuals and panhandlers from the public view of people with means. This is happening with greater frequency in areas of the country that have more temperate weather, since such cities attract those without money who can live outdoors year round without fear of dying from freezing weather.
BeyondChron is scathingly critical of the forced evacuation at the southern tip of Silicon Valley:
As San Jose captures the momentary media, it’s important to remember that there is nothing exceptional about [this homeless refuge] in its existence or its eviction. Mass homeless encampments are increasingly common fixtures of US cities and the rationales for their evictions follow nearly identical scripts. As the media has its field day with the latest expression of the pornographic poverty of squalor in the midst of opulence that the US is so prone to produce, it is important to remember that those living in the [encampment] were not there “by choice,” but because they had nowhere else to go. Expelled from all other public spaces by the region’s criminalization of the poor, they have now been pushed into more remote, dangerous, and unsanitary [displacement] along Coyote Creek.
There is a growing trend toward regarding humans (particularly people of color and the poor) as "urban blight" - and assuming that the way to eliminate their "unsightliness" is to criminalize and remove them for the "offense" of not having a home. This is the ultimate perverted outcome of equating the ownership of or ability to rent property with one's value as a person.
There are many factors that result in homelessness, including mental illness. However, the most common denominator is lack of funds and insufficient social services. Given the trajectory of greed that this nation has been taking - in sweeps of the homeless such as those in San José - only token attention is being devoted to the actual basic needs of the homeless and the poor.
As 2014 comes to a close, the motto of municipalities - acting on behalf of the fortunate in society - appears to be, "get those squalid homeless people out of sight."