This week’s Heartlander is the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Homelessness is a complicated issue, and the best attempts have never truly ended it and it is unlikely it ever will end. That doesn’t mean that there is nothing to be done. Working to decriminalize a personal set of circumstances that is often rooted in physical and mental illness, lack of community support at key points—including public education, parenting skills, unemployment programs, social acceptance of substance use, and most recently a remote financial sector more concerned about quarterly profits than maintaining a stable economy.
Having spent a fair amount of time in large metropolitan areas and being a dedicated biker/walker, I’ve seen a lot of folks on the street over the years. When you zoom by in your SUV, it’s easy to miss a lot of what’s going on in your community, and even if you do see it, I really don’t think the context is apparent. I don’t think there is anything more heart crushing than seeing the progression of homelessness in individuals and families from people who just used to be like you and me, but a job gone, a landlord or bank that had no patience, through the stages of losing touch with the mainstream to the point where you’re not sure how that person, that family can ever get back to the (comparatively carefree) life most of us take for granted.
I think it is easy to be callous sometimes, without even meaning to be callous. And I admit I’m not sure why I do not do more myself. Plus the economic doldrum, Great Recession, Second Depression, whatever you want to call was a double whammy of leaving a lot of folks barely with their head above water and a lot more folks over the brink and in big trouble.
To a roof over the head, the simplest things are sometimes the most important.