by C. A. Matthews
Arresting the homeless for camping in public areas, "loitering" in parks, and sleeping on sidewalks is nothing new. In fact, Los Angeles recently passed a law that makes being homeless in the city illegal. Police regularly grab and pitch people's tents and belongings, and there are well over 66,000 homeless individuals in L.A. at last count.
What if we flipped this social challenge on its head? What if we didn't turn the homeless into "outlaws" but outlawed the whole tragedy of homelessness instead?
How would this work? I envision a similar program such as the one implemented in Finland. If a person is found to be without a secure home--for whatever reason--we simply provide one for them. It's not like there's any shortage of housing. It's estimated there's at least 17 million empty housing units in the US. That's more than enough to house the current estimate of 11 million homeless individuals.
So, what gives? Why aren't we providing homes for folks who need them when there's no shortage of empty homes? Answer: Because capitalists like landlords and international real estate holding firms don't want to fill those empty homes. It's better in their opinion to make everyone believe there's a shortage of housing so the capitalists can charge higher rent prices and drive up sale prices when they do decide to sell off some of their surplus housing stock.
Simply put, capitalists hoard things--money, houses, spaceships, yachts, etc.--so that others can't use them. The capitalists themselves aren't in need of these surplus homes since they have homes of their own in quite nice neighborhoods. They just don't want these empty homes they're hoarding to be used unless they can dictate the terms, even if these terms mean that ordinary people won't be able to afford to rent or buy these homes and even could be evicted during a pandemic.
Logically, then, the only way to effectively outlaw homelessness is to outlaw capitalism. Forever.
You're probably thinking, "It can't be done!" but I beg to differ. It can be done and it must be done for the sake of our homeless (and about to be evicted) neighbors. "How can it be done?" is the better question, and it's a tough one to answer. Why? Because for every homeless person in the US there are at least a dozen others working against any change in the status quo.
And why do Americans (some of whom aren't particularly well-to-do) wish to maintain things they way they are? Why should they support the capitalists at all? The obvious answer is that those who have a lot of wealth and power are loathed to give any of it up, and those who kiss up to the capitalists are hoping some of the "crumbs" will fall from the capitalists' table and into their laps.
But I believe there's a deeper fear beneath this heartlessness and hoarding. I believe that many capitalists (and their sycophants) are afraid that if they share any of their material wealth they will somehow be diminished in the eyes of others and thought less of. We might even make fun of the way they dress, talk, act, and well... hoard things.
In other words, capitalists are deeply afraid that no one will take care of them if and when they ever need to be taken care of, and they'll become as unwanted and uncared for as those poor souls currently camping in our cities' streets.
It's not an unreasonable fear on the capitalists' part. They realize just how much they hate their "neighbors," so they conclude that their "neighbors" are bound to reflect some of this hatred back at them. I've covered this particular irrational fear before, so I won't go into it here. You can read all about it in this piece: Why are the rich so scared of socialism?
Until we wipe out all fears that both the homeless and the capitalists have, we will continue to suffer this great divide of haves versus have nots in our society. And we will continue to see a growing number of homeless neighbors while simultaneously enjoying a growing surplus of housing units in the US.
It's insane. It's inhumane. But that's capitalism for you.
Outlaw homelessness. Today.
Here are some more videos and articles to think on:
The Moratorium Extension Won't End Evictions https://therealnews.com/the-moratorium-extension-wont-end-%EF%BB%BFevictions
Capitalism is Holding All of Us Hostage https://therealnews.com/richard-wolff-capitalism-is-holding-all-of-us-hostage
Why Are the Rich So Scared of Socialism? https://bernie2016.blogspot.com/2020/01/why-are-rich-so-scared-of-socialism.html
Los Angeles Criminalizes Being Homeless https://www.yahoo.com/news/los-angeles-criminalizes-being-homeless-171023695.html
How Finland Solved Homelessness https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/02/how-finland-solved-homelessness
The two things the world urgently needs to bring an end to are the climate crisis and landlords— Council Estate Media (@CEMEDlA) August 8, 2021
What’s it called when the bank says you cannot afford a $950 mortgage payment so you’re stuck paying $1500 in rent instead.— alex 🇲🇽 (@r8dr4lfe75) August 8, 2021
Landlords want 2021 prices with 1993 kitchens and bathrooms— 𝙅𝙚𝙨𝙨𝙚 #𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚𝘼𝙨𝙨𝙖𝙣𝙜𝙚 (@ActivistJesse09) August 8, 2021
By the end of summer 2021, an estimated 7 million tenants in the U.S. will be behind on rent. With the COVID-19 pandemic upending life as we know it, families all over the country have faced job and health crises, resulting in finances so tight, they can't afford to keep a roof over their heads. As if this weren't bad enough, the Biden administration has now announced they don't have the ability on their own to extend the federal eviction moratorium. This means that we are entering an unprecedented housing crisis which will certainly devastate families' and individuals' lives if we don't head this off now.
As many as 1.2 million tenants have reported that they were very likely to be evicted as soon as the moratorium expired on July 31. The country now faces a race against the clock to find resources and shelter for millions of people, even as we are now facing yet another wave of increased COVID transmissions and lockdowns. Although Biden has said he does not have the power to extend the original moratorium himself, Congress does have this power. If lawmakers were to reconvene immediately and reinstate the mortatorium, countless families could be spared from disaster. We need bold action from Biden and Congress, and fast. Sign here to demand that Congress stay in session until they extend the federal eviction moratorium to protect all Americans!
P.S. The eviction moratorium prevented landlords from kicking people impacted by the COVID recession to the curb, but now it's over. Sign the petition to extend this moratorium.
There are more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and every one should have a safe pathway to citizenship.
Immigrants are essential to the success of America. During the pandemic, roughly 23 million immigrants -- including 5 million who are undocumented -- served as health care workers, public health and safety workers, food system workers and farmworkers.
Some of the undocumented are Dreamers, brought here as children. Other immigrants are here legally due to war, political persecution or natural disasters in their countries of origin.
A recent Gallup poll proves that the American people overwhelmingly, by a 75% to 21% margin, support creating a pathway to citizenship.
Now we can make it happen. Senator Bernie Sanders, Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, has included $150 billion in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation proposal earmarked specifically for implementing immigration policies, including a pathway to citizenship.
But Bernie needs our help building support to make sure it doesn’t get cut during negotiations on a final bill. It’s time to finally let the undocumented come out of the shadows with a pathway to citizenship.
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For too long Congress has failed to take action on immigration. Isn’t it time for Congress to deliver solutions that reflect both our shared values and our national interests?
All undocumented immigrants, essential workers, Dreamers, and those fleeing disasters or political persecution should be provided a pathway to citizenship without more delay.
Thank you for fighting for change.
Director, National Campaign for Transit Justice