A recent email from HousingLink, a local nonprofit that works on low income housing issues, contained links to news articles with depressing titles like:
- “Elderly and homeless: America’s next housing crisis”
- “New report shows Minnesota LGBTQ teens and adults overrepresented in homeless population”
- “Homeless and facing winter in Minneapolis
- “Homeless families struggle with impossible choices as school closures continue”
- “Homeless advocates blame Minneapolis’ continued lack of affordable housing for ‘Wall of Forgotten Natives’ resurgence”
- “Neighbors object to Ramsey County plan to convert St. Paul hospital into a homeless shelter”
While I try to find positive things to pass on to others, especially during this convergence or homelessness, covid, increasing mental health challenges, and an impending end to the eviction moratorium (a news story that didn’t even make HousingLink’s email), at some point I need to face the fact that life sucks for a lot of people, and it is about to get worse. Some of you reading this know this far better than me because the headlines are speaking about you, or about your friends and neighbors.
The United States has had a homeless crisis since at least the 1980s. By itself, homelessness is bad enough. It robs people of their identities, destroying physical and emotional health, removing security and flaunting the nation’s wealth in their faces. Combined with Covid, it is catastrophic.
Of course, Covid and homelessness are not the only issues out there. Sex trafficking, racism, and any number of other issues have put Americans in perilous positions for decades or longer. Solving these problems is never simple, but it is necessary.
Coming out of the election, politicians will be one of the groups we look to for solutions. I am writing this in mid-October, but by the time you read this the election will have passed (although we may still be waiting to find out who won the presidency and various other positions). I hope that whoever winds up in the White House and all of those who are moving into elected offices at any level of government realize that their goal should never have been to win the election. Keeping the other candidate out of office won’t help the people represented by those headlines. Political power is meant to make society “better”, which doesn’t include increasing the number of people without housing, allowing predators to prey on the vulnerable, or maintaining any of our other problems. Regardless of one’s political position, political power has to be used to solve these problems.
My prayer is that anyone who holds office does so recognizing their responsibility to find solutions to the threats their constituents face. They must move past preventing other politicians from taking action to taking positive action themselves.
by Marti Maltby, Director Peace House Community – A Place to Belong
This article originally appeared in “The Alley,” the newspaper for the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.