A Second Opinion: Shame, Shame, Shame on US!

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Sorry to burst some people’s bubbles, but realities are often harsh and
demand a touch of thoughtfulness
By Mary Foran

Beware Readers! This addresses the Underside of Stateside!

There is an ongoing controversy, at least in the local area, about the numerous people who have no “homes”–that means houses, condominiums, duplexes, rented space in apartments, or even in what are known as “low-income housing” projects.

What it means is that they have nowhere to go, nowhere to sleep, defecate, urinate, wash up, drink water, eat, not to mention clothe themselves or work their way out of poverty, drug addiction or drunkenness. Some have slept on the streets for years, and are well-known faces in the crowded mission halls. Others are more anonymous but just as needy of a shower and a helping hand, from someone, somehow, from somewhere.

Shower To The People (STTP) is a non-profit, tax-exempt publicly supported organization that provides shower (read that as dignity) to the homeless. Photo shows truck converted to STTP mobile shower unit

This “issue” has filled the papers for years, realmente, and Civic Leaders have tried and tried to find solutions and solve this “social disease”. (Bodies in sleeping bags, tents pitched under trees and bushes, Bridges and Freeway accesses and exits…)

Somehow, for some strange reason, Homeowners, who are blessed with their own showers to wash themselves in, feel that if THEY were able to “make it” somehow, then everyone is fit and able and lucky enough in life to “make it”! (A cruel attitude about those literally dying on the streets–the general attitude of the better-to-do in the face of this ominous and strikingly sad crisis.)

Just viewing the situation while commuting around the Metropolitan Area is enough to see how serious a problem of attitude we have.

Many, many good and wonderful people and organizations and charities and even Politicians have tried to fix the Area’s angst about this, and yet still the crisis continues.

Is SELFISHNESS our raison d’etre? Well, now, I don’t think so, knowing how much and how long good people have cared.

“Radical” solutions have been proposed, starting with a Mobile Shower Unit which I heard was being used around town once upon a time.

Homeless group in San Francisco, CA

How can someone who has been forced by circumstances to sleep in parks and on sidewalks in an overwhelmed city, which is trying to be picture-perfect for visitors and residents alike, be lifted up by society, out of dismal, dreadful, disastrous and deadly poverty?

There have been many attempted fixes:

1. “Low-income housing”, which is even too expensive for some.

2.  Charities, working behind-the-scenes around town–too few and far-between.

3.  RVs (Recreational Vehicles) being used for “temporary housing”, which tend to get parked along the streets of the town and in neighborhoods, now being “cracked down upon” by local authorities, who are responding to understandable complaints by landowners.

There are shanty towns called “The Right to Dream” being moved out, Mobile Home Parks being bought out, and “density housing” being built in every square inch of open space available.

The suburbs have spread so far and wide that commutes are literally incredible.

What with winter snow and rain damage to the streets, the cost of repairs is getting to be out of the reach of local governments, and the homeless crisis is just one more problem to be addressed out of many.

The MAX encouraging Portlanders to leave their cars and take the train to Washington Park if they’re going there. The incentive? Free admission to the zoo!

Here there is a dedication to biking as a real alternative method of transport, and the bus system is far-reaching and efficient. Trolleys have come back into fashion, and commuter lines called “The Max” reach outlying communities and the airport.

But still, the car is king. (It’s the best means of seeing what is truly picturesque in this area.)

Thinking about my civic duty, I would propose that there be a tax on TYRES/TIRES, dedicated to the BUS SYSTEM, which should reduce the price of a ticket for all income levels, since the bus is essential for getting to work for many, many people, and especially low-income people, who really have no other alternative in a far-flung Metro area. Jobs are scarce enough as it is, and walking is not always possible, nor can the elderly and disabled ride bikes.

Sorry to burst some people’s bubbles, but realities are often harsh and demand a touch of thoughtfulness.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” if you were in their circumstances, is a good lesson to learn in life, and I hope I, for one, have learned it. (Actually, I’m still trying!)

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Images
Featured image (Homeless Man)/Sara Rictic, CC BY2.0
Shower to the People, Fair Use
Homeless group/Franco Folini, CC BY-SA2.0
The MAX, Fair Use

 


About Mary
Born in Seattle, WA, U.S.A., and a graduate of the University of Oregon in Spanish and General Literature, Mary lived in Madrid, Spain during the 80s, a period in Spanish history which became known as “The Transition”. She taught English as a Foreign Language and worked as Managing Editor of the Guidepost when it was still a weekly print publication. She did a stint on Spanish Foreign Radio and Radio Cadena, and corresponded for a Financial Times of London newsletter. She still has ties to Spain, loves the people and the country, and has great hopes for the future!