One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

First they came for the homeless…

homelesspersondcUpon learning of the District’s plans to “sweep” homeless people out the city for the inauguration, James Joyner sarcastically remarks that “Obama Hates the Homeless.”  He admits that he “do[es]n’t think Obama’s personally responsible” for the operation, but he does make a contrast with the lack of a similar “preparation” for Bush’s inauguration(s).  The reason behind the measure, ostensibly, is the enhanced security for this year’s only-slightly-momentous inauguration.  And while Joyner for some reason puzzles over why security is “exponentially more drastic” this time around, the real question is how forcing homeless people out of the District at all contributes to “security.”

This is a fiction, of course, and a sickening fiction at that, as the real reason behind the mass eviction of homeless people is to improve the District’s appearance.  With so many tourists flocking to the city, Washington officials are opting for the tried-and-true tactic of simply ignoring the problem and sweeping it under the rug.  This tendency can be seen in cities across the country, but its rank irony is surely the worst in DC, where a serious problem of homelessness and poverty only increases as the powerful federal government that lives takes shelter next door continues to refuse to address its root causes.

(image from flickr user matthew.rice. under a Creative Commons license)


January 16, 2009 - Posted by | Washington DC | ,

1 Comment »

  1. January 11, 2009

    TO: President-Elect Barack Obama

    FROM: Ruben Botello, Founder

    Dear Mr. Obama:

    I have been in and out of homelessness since being honorably discharged as a USMC Vietnam veteran in 1969. I wound up homeless then, in and out of homelessness with my two sons in the Eighties, and homeless on my own again in the Nineties.

    I started the American Homeless Society in 1987 while my sons and I were homeless in California. I have been in several hunger strikes, marches and demonstrations for homeless rights since then but have seen little progress.

    My longest hunger strike was 58 days against President Reagan’s “trickle down” economic policies that created much more instead of less homelessness in our country. You now speak about fixing our nation’s economy from the “bottom up” and that should mean you are starting by ending involuntary homelessness at the bottom.

    HUD Secretary Philip Mangano has been promoting 10-year plans to end homelessness in major cities across the country on behalf of the Bush Administration for the past few years. We would hope and pray you make a similar commitment to abolish homelessness but throughout our nation, not just in individual cities because there are far more homeless than these urban plans will ever reach.

    Slavery was abolished in America over a century ago; why not abolish homelessness today, Mr. Obama? Homelessness is just as bad as slavery in several ways and much worse in others.

    Men, women and children from all the races, colors, cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, religions and creeds in our diverse society find themselves homeless daily. They are forced to endure harassment, discrimination and persecution in our nation today much like the slaves President Lincoln’s armies fought to free in the Nineteenth Century.

    America’s homeless are also forced to endure nature’s harshest conditions without warm homes or shelter for protection; without good food and nutrition; without essential hygiene, medicine and healthcare; and without the necessary education, training or experience required to qualify for the dwindling supply of jobs in today’s worsening economy. Many of America’s homeless today are even employed but underemployed and unable to afford existing rentals while thousands of others are altogether unemployable.

    How can our great nation permit so many of these poor souls to continue to suffer and die needlessly on our streets? I joined the Marines to fight for my country in the Sixties so that all Americans could have a better life, not just the rich and well-to-do who are receiving all the bailouts today.

    The list of barriers and obstacles facing today’s homeless goes on and on, Mr. Obama. Please, if you are serious about fixing our nation’s economy from the bottom-up, begin at the real bottom by making a firm commitment to end involuntary homelessness throughout our country without further ado.


    Ruben Botello, Founder

    Comment by Ruben Botello | January 17, 2009 | Reply

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