I don’t often get political on this blog. Not because I lack political opinions or anything – I mean, I have a blog about autism, mental illness, and disability. I think about these things a lot. I think about the consequences of living with mental illness and disability in a society that has little room for us. I think about how easy it would have been for me to wind up homeless at different parts of my life. I think about how my not being homeless is because I had friends and family and people who care about me who would support me, and if I didn’t have those things my life would have turned out VERY differently, but so many people would have blamed me for my circumstances. I think about the injustice of homelessness and how we so often criminalize and punish people for being hungry or having nowhere to go. I just don’t write about it much because, to be honest, I’m still kind of nervous to do so. So instead I stick with nice, safe topics like identity and social skills and making room in a world that has no room (ok, these things are still important and I have no intention of stopping writing about them. they’re just a lot safer than expressing my political opinions).
However, today I heard this thing about Utah. I’m worried it will turn out to be an onion-type thing and we’ve all been duped, but I really hope it’s real. I want it to be real.
That being, that Utah is well on its way towards ending homelessness not by criminalizing being homeless (which far too many places do and I am angry about it), but by providing homeless people with homes. Not just because it’s the right thing to do (which, for the record, it is) or because they’re a bunch of liberal pansies (they are not), but because it is the most economical solution. If sources are to be believed, it’s cheaper than the costs of eating emergency room bills for homeless people. An apartment and a social worker, to help those who are able to work to get work.
Which is kinda right along line with my beliefs in regards to homelessness and people who need help. I see so many people out there say that we are supposed to earn our homes and earn our healthcare and earn our food and all that. And that the earning must come first. Which always leaves me wondering – how can a person earn their right to a home if they have nowhere to sleep? (hint: they pretty much can’t)
Or how can a person earn their access to health care if they are too sick to work? (hint: they pretty much can’t)
Or how can a person earn access to food if they are too hungry to think straight? (hint: actually, I think you know where this is going)
So I hope that this is actually happening. I hope that the homeless and the hungry in Utah are getting the help they need, and I hope more people and places can learn from this and maybe start implementing actual, viable solutions rather than making homeless people into criminals simply because they have nowhere to sleep.