Homeless Tent Camps Unsanitary? Humans Have To Go Somewhere.

A row of 4 portable toilets stand in a field
Portapotties photo by Wendy Soucie is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Sweep the homeless away or leave them where they are, it's senseless, inhuman and a danger to public health to ignore sanitation.

Compassionate responses to growing homelessness crises can be frustrating. The responders may be people experiencing homelessness themselves, or activists, or local government. The recipients of the responses may be neighbourhood residents, local businesses, even other levels of government that feel they have a better perspective on the problem1.

In a growing number of cases, complaints are no longer being met by bulldozers and garbage trucks to “sweep” the problem away. A recognition of basic human rights, complaints may instead be met by suggestions such as “have a care for your your fellow humans in their hour of need.”

Which does little or nothing to make the problem go away.

From Hawaii, here’s an example of just such an exchange following neighbourhood complaints. The government response is compassion with a side of pushback, suggesting that a neighbourhood problem is possibly best solved by a neighbourhood solution. Read more in the Star Advertiser: Honolulu Office of Housing’s new leader says sweeps are an unsuccessful approach to homelessness on Oahu

But there are temporary solutions for neighbourhoods and governments alike. (Permanent solutions, such as massive public housing builds, remain in short supply as homelessness gradually becomes its own life-threatening pandemic.)

One such short term solution is being quite literally employed in the town of Elk Grove, California. Read more on both its success and potential by way of an interest in the project from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Read more at Global News:  Advocate for homeless population says California initiative could work in Winnipeg

The Elk Grove strategy doesn’t get in to how sanitation is being managed, although with growing numbers of people who are homeless, it can’t be overlooked. San Francisco, which is 180 km (97 mi) down the road from Elk Grove, offers some insight. Try: Indoor Homeless Sheltering Pricey? San Francisco Finds Outdoor Shelters No Bargain

Footnotes

  1. Try: WA State Exasperated By City Council Compassion For Homeless Encampment

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