This article recently popped up on my newsfeed, and I thought it would make for an interesting discussion.
The following is my best attempt at an unbiased summary (the source is somewhat biased): The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has regulations forbidding non-employees from accessing certain areas. One of these areas is under an overpass in downtown Atlanta. Some homeless people, apparently somewhat less than 50 and more than 5, were sleeping and keeping their possessions under this overpass. GDOT, citing concerns for motorist and pedestrian safety (the article doesn’t say, but presumably they’re concerned that someone will wander onto the highway and get hit or cause a collision) gave the homeless 24 hours to take their possessions and vacate the premises. Apparently the homeless had been staying there for some time, in varying numbers. When the homeless did not vacate the area, GDOT sent two bulldozers to destroy the tent city that was under the overpass.
Not included in the article, but relevant to the discussion, might be this map, showing that Georgia has 1.71 homeless people per 1,000 residents, and 49.9% of those are “unsheltered” meaning they “live in places not meant for human habitation, such as streets, vehicles, parks, campgrounds, abandoned buildings, etc.”
The discussion I have seen elsewhere boils down to two camps:
By policy, the homeless are not allowed under the overpass, they did not have a right to be there, they were warned to vacate and did not, so GDOT took action to prevent them from staying.
There’s not enough shelter for homeless people as it is, many of them are not homeless by choice, and this is just kicking them while they’re down.
Personally, I can see some of both sides. Sure, some people are homeless due to factors outside their control - then again, some don’t want to put up with societal norms, and are more or less homeless by choice. Destroying their stuff is not pleasant, but then they had warning to move their stuff and did not. They aren’t allowed to be under the overpass anyway, but they need some place to live.
My thought on the matter is that the state needs to do a better job of providing for it’s citizens, but at the same time the homeless need to take some responsibility to use the programs available to them - there’s blame to be cast on both sides. If you choose the homeless lifestyle (and some do), this stuff will be par for the course. If you didn’t choose it because you’re down on your luck, society needs to help you back on your feet - if you aren’t willing to accept society’s help with society’s conditions, see group 1. If you aren’t capable of making that decision due to mental illness, institutionalization is probably the route to go (and I’d be willing to up my taxes to see that happen).
What says the Dope?