The city’s decision to remove homeless camps in the absence of immediate permanent housing solutions is an effort to obscure a problem rather than solve it. To whatever extent crime, sanitation or any other issues used to justify this course of action exist, they will continue to exist in other neighborhoods or corners of the city where they are less visible or visible to constituents whose complaints generally result in less action by the city.
All of the high-end new housing (unaffordable to many longtime residents), coupled with the presence of homeless camps in heavily trafficked areas, is probably the best reflection of our increasing class disparity. This juxtaposition serves to show visitors and otherwise unaffected residents alike that something is not right here.
It’s wrong to tell people that they must stay in a shelter or they are breaking the law by existing here. Beyond that simple morality, moving the camps allows us to return to the comfort of putting our collective head in the sand as our city becomes unaffordable for more and more of us.
If we silently permit our government officials to push around the people who have no other place to stay but a tent, then how can we expect that they will intervene when those of us with homes are pushed out of our neighborhoods by unchecked market forces?
The city’s choice to offer hotel rooms to evicted campers seems to be a humane alternative to eviction alone, but this offer covers only the next couple of months without an indication of what comes next. The camps are the issue of the moment, but they beg a broader question: Does this town belong to all of us or just the highest bidders?
— Derek Towle