It is always interesting to me when either talking with people about homeless shelters or reading editorials by people on the topic, who declaim that shelters cause crime. Their solution is to simply shut the shelter down.
The question that follows is:
Where do the homeless people go?
The answer is simple;
Back onto the streets of your city.
They don’t disappear or disperse. They have nowhere else to go. Otherwise they wouldn’t be there in there in the first place.
Shelters serve specific areas. That means that the people in the shelter I work at are from the Quincy area. They are not causing waves of crime. These crimes would be happening anyway, possibly they would be worse since the homeless people would have no where to go every night. Granted that there are people experiencing homeless who do not use shelters, but we try to help as many as we can stay someplace safe each night.
It must be understood that a homeless shelter does not attract “freeloaders” from larger cities who bring drugs and gangs and crime to the city streets. While it is true that people experiencing homelessness can be found in larger numbers near a shelter, the main point that people tend to miss is that they were there before the shelter was; the shelter didn’t summon them magically. These are people who are already right there in the community with you.
These are men and women who live there, grew up there, went to school with you. Why should they leave their city? Rather than hope the problem disappears, why not help to make it better? I will admit that our building is not a glorious sight to behold. How about fixing it up? Maybe help pay for treatment programs so that guests can overcome addictions?
One reason the drug problem in Quincy may be seen as worsening is that Father Bill’s had to close it’s wet shelter back in 2002. As a result, these human beings no longer had access to the shelter, since it then became a dry shelter (no alcohol or drug use allowed, no intoxication without recrimination). In short, they were placed back on the streets from where they came. And there was surprise that crime saw an uptick?
Sorry for the rant. I’m doing initial research on a proposal to do more research that would deal with the intersection of three areas I’m interested in currently: the homeless, elders, and the continuum of care. Basically; elders are expected to stay home as long as possible, and avoid long-term care facilities. But what does that mean for a homeless elder? How does a sixty-year old man in an emergency shelter “age in place”? What does that look like, and what does it mean for the future as the Boomer cohort explodes into senior status?
I will be sitting down with several professors to see if I can work this into some kind of grant or assistanceship if I get into the MSW program at Bridgewater. That reminds me; time to start visiting grad schools! My list so far is Bridgewater, RI College, Simmons, BU, and BC. I was going to link to their sites, but it’s 2 am and I’m really tired.
We saw the film “The Way, Way Back” today, and it was great. I highly recommend it. They filmed it in Marshfield and Wareham. Parts of Deluxbury…I mean Duxbury, too.
Next time I’ll write something funnier. Maybe. We’ll see.