What’s Up With Homeless Relocation
Due to poverty getting worse, and the Matthew effect, the rich are getting richer while the poor unfortunately are getting poorer. Because of this, many citizens with less money are getting forced even further down, and breaching the point of homelessness. The homeless issue has been an apparent problem across the world for quite a long time, but more recently, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, many of the states across the United States have reported that the homeless population percentage in their state is increasing, as shown in the image below.
Almost every city that has a high homeless population issue has come to the conclusion that the homeless people need to be dealt with. What most commonly happens in these cities is used through a homeless relocation program. Mayors and city leaders will send police into areas where many homeless people are living and the police will kick them out generally into the next city or town. Some places such as Hawaii and New York will go as far as sending the homeless away. According to The Huffington Post, “Hawaii’s Institute for Human Services (IHS) is launching a $1.3 million initiative to fight homelessness, but parts of the plan have raised some eyebrows. The state is aiming to fly 120 homeless people living in Waikiki, a tourist hotspot in Honolulu, back to the continental U.S., while also allocating funds for a public relations campaign discouraging homeless people living on the mainland from moving to the state — a move some say contradicts Hawaii’s usual warm welcome to visitors.” They desire to relocate the homeless for various reasons, but they always tie back into social and economic reasons.
Homeless relocation has plenty of economic and social impacts on society. Many people evidently suffer from homeless relocation, while others benefit at an exceeding level. On one hand, by relocating the homeless people, the homeless are unequivocally the people that directly suffer from homeless relocation, they suffer because of the lack in sense of a home, or at least a place to feel familiar with, they are having rights violated (they are legally allowed to be in a public space), and the homeless people may be demoted to a new place with much worse living conditions than the place they had previously been inhabiting. On the other hand, the people that not only enforce but benefit from homeless relocation is the city, more specifically the city leaders. The city benefits because when they relocate the homeless people to a new location out of their city borders the city gets better tourist reviews and has better tourist attraction, when there are no homeless people the city feels as if it’s keeping the city cleaner which makes the city look better and richer, and lastly the city wants to keep the public space open and accessible for work commute, and all transportation that goes on in a city, they also want to keep their parks open for entertainment and an environment where people feel safe.
On one side of this problem, which tends to be the more social side, the first reason why the homeless suffer from relocation in a large way is because they don’t ever feel like they have an established home, or at least have the consistency of staying in one place. When police come in and interfere with a person’s home or place of living, the homeless are never going to feel comfortable in one place. It sucks to feel as if you don’t belong anywhere, and you are unable to afford a house. Because of this, the system is setting up to fail people. Homeless people are constantly trying to break their cycle of homelessness. According to HomeAid America “The great challenge for the newly homeless is to figure out how to return to their normal lives. Organizations that build emergency shelters and transitional housing typically work with a larger number of service providers around the country whose mission is to provide the services, such as job training, social skills training, and financial training, that enable these people to regain employment and return to mainstream lives. The progression for these recently homeless is to first be housed in transitional residences where they can learn these skills, to graduate to assisted living in affordable housing while they build up economic reserves and rebuild their employment resume, and then to graduate to full, market rate housing.” Nevertheless, it is very difficult for homeless people to have the confidence to get back on track when they constantly feel that they are not strong enough to. This feeling comes directly from the relocation enforced by police and city officials. The homeless do not feel confident when they do not feel like they belong anywhere.
The second reason why homeless people suffer is because when they get relocated by the city leaders which is enforced by the police, they are directly getting their rights violated. According to Shelterforce online, “In Pottinger v. Miami, a federal court held that punishing people for sleeping in public when they had no alternative place to sleep violated their right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment and violated their right to travel. As a result, homeless people in Miami cannot be arrested for sleeping in public places if they have no alternative.” This explicitly describes the situation that homeless people all over the United States, or more specifically, the Bay Area, are going through. It is unjust for the homeless to be relocated or given a cruel or unusual punishment, because these people have no other option. The meme below gives a good explanation.
Lastly, the homeless people suffer because of the idea that they are physically being pushed out of the city and figuratively being pushed further and further down in living conditions. When cities are trying to keep their city cleaner they push the homeless people out of the area that they are inhabiting into the worse parts of the city or the next city over, then this city does the same thing. The homeless people are stuck in a vicious cycle that the government enforces on them. The Center for Vision and Values mentions “Homelessness, like any other social problem, is influenced by incentives. Unfortunately, government policy may actually be making the problem worse, particularly government-subsidized housing for the poor.” The reasoning of this article is that “Oftentimes, providing government-funded services to the homeless with no strings attached only makes it easier for some of them to continue their bad habits, whether the problem is substance abuse or an unwillingness to accept responsibility for personal behavior. This explains why homelessness did not decline but increased between the early 1980s and 2007, even though the economy was booming and unemployment and poverty were declining.” The government has never come up with a clear solution to the social problem of homelessness besides homeless relocation.
On the other side of this issue, the more economical side, there is the city, who benefits off of homeless relocation for a few reasons. The first reason is simply because of tourist attraction and the economical benefits of tourists. Mentioned by Statista “The travel and tourism industry is one of the largest industries in the United States, making a total contribution of 1.47 trillion U.S. dollars to GDP in 2014. The industry was forecasted to contribute more than 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars by 2025.” Clearly, the U.S. gets roughly ⅓ of its money from tourists, so given the fact that any city realizes this, they will do the best they can to have a large tourist attraction, one of the first steps to having a better tourist attraction is placing the homeless people either in a worse part of the city or pushed into the next city over.
Secondly, the city leaders are in a constant state of attempt to keep the city as clean as possible. They want it to be clean for a multitude of reasons, such as tourist attraction, hygiene, organization, wealth, and more. The cleaner the city is, the happier the residents of the city are, the city leaders, and anyone who may pass by. When the city is cleaner, not only are they happy but the city will be more successful in getting money. The easiest way to clean up is by getting rid of homeless people. Instead of being humane and trying to find a reasonable solution for the homeless population, the city leaders will enforce the police to go and send the police into the next city over or into a worse part of the city where they will be relocated again in the next few weeks.
The last big reason why city leaders and committee people want to relocate the homeless population in a given city is because of public space. Many residents have complained that the use of the public space is being occupied with homeless people. According to Shelterforce “In the past decade, cities have increasingly moved toward enacting and enforcing laws that specifically criminalize homelessness in response to their concern about the use of public space. Cities enact and enforce these criminal laws as ‘quick-fix’ solutions to remove homeless people from sight, rather than addressing the underlying causes of homelessness.” When cities want to maintain the public space in their city they act quickly to create laws that give the city the ability to remove the homeless without thinking of a reasonable solution for the people going through the problem.
To conclude, it is apparent that there are many social and economical benefits and suffers of homeless relocation. Homeless people suffer because they never feel as if they never have an established home, they are having rights violated, and almost always homeless are relocated to a les resourceful location. The city benefits from homeless relocation because when there aren’t homeless people they have more tourists, which brings the city money, the city is making everything cleaner and trying to please their residents, and the public space is not cluttered or being occupied. This matters because homeless people are people as well, they should be treated that way and be able to have a place to live.