John Oliver Dissects The Politics Of Homelessness

John Oliver Dissects The Politics Of Homelessness

Why are there over a half million homeless, why exactly is it happening, and what can be done about it? Via Mashable, John Oliver wants to know why :

These are the questions John Oliver asks in his latest Last Week Tonight segment, exploring the various reasons people become homeless, the reasons they remain homeless, and the “not-in-my-back-yard”-attitude that sees locals pushing back against schemes that could potentially benefit unhoused people.

“If you’re wondering why homelessness continues to get worse in this country, one reason is there are a lot of people, even liberals, who believe that homelessness is a personal failing, poverty can be avoided, and their own good fortune makes them not only better than the unhoused, but more worthy of comfort,” Oliver explains.

“I do not want to over-simply the logistics involved here. It will take a massive commitment in infrastructure, funding and resources. But the very first step here is a collective change of perceptions. Basically we need to stop being dicks, and assuming that the unhoused are a collection of drug addict criminals who’ve chosen this life for themselves, instead of people suffering the inevitable consequences of gutted social programs and a nationwide divestment from affordable housing.”

This was very timely for me. I have an old high school friend who just lost her house to back taxes, which left her and her daughter out on the street. She also has terminal cancer. Her doctors think radiation would help — but they can’t do radiation therapy without a home to discharge her to. So they did surgery instead. She wants to be in hospice, or some kind of housing, but there are no available beds or housing units in the city. She can’t get a hotel room without a credit card.

And the hospital really, really wants her to leave.

In the meantime, her daughter, who is her caretaker, is taking every night shift she can get in an Amazon warehouse so she doesn’t have to sleep on the street. Sometimes she’s lucky enough to get a shelter bed.

Just a reminder: Lots of homeless people were like you and me, until they got squeezed just a little bit tighter.

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Politics