*My family volunteers with one of these groups, Human Beans Together, and have done so for a year.
Not only did they (the city) not want us to feed the homeless in Moore Square– the homeless most definitely did not make it into the $14 million dollar renovation plans for the park— no one in the city offered suggestions for other options. Or they didn’t until a blog post from Love Wins blew up with internet and NC made the national news. Again. Don’t forget that October election.
The first time the cops threatened arrest for noncompliance with a long-standing, but never-enforced city ordinance, we moved across the street to an empty Salvation Army building. This lasted about 2 weeks before the city announced that they owned that building, too, so– no. The next week Human Beans paid for parking spots in a nearby parking lot (smart, we are). Then national attention and political deflection, and meetings with politicians making nice– remember that election in October?
It’s the refusal to open a weekend soup kitchen that made the suddenness of these plans feel deliberate and calculating. For me, the fight isn’t about Moore Square at all– if they gave me a building nearby and said, here- you can use this space, I would be fine. My fight isn’t for that small block of land; it’s about feeding the homeless on the two days where the soup kitchens are closed and, AND children cannot get meals at school.
Yeah– we have kids that come through that line, too.
Now, I’m no business woman, so maybe I’m missing how that particular business model succeeds. The one where providing free food to people unable to pay for food makes rocks a huge profit.
Phase 1: Pay for food and give it away for free. Phase 3: Profit. Ah, Lt. Carswell must have watched the Underpants Gnome episode on South Park.
I realize I’m rambling a bit and I’m probably dangling participles all over the place, but I have my first ever sinus infection and, whoa, does it suck.
So, if the city doesn’t want the homeless fed in Moore Square, then the city should open the soup kitchen on the weekends. If the city (state) finds themselves uncomfortable when confronted by homelessness, then perhaps Step One is the re-allocation of funds for unemployment benefits, mental health and domestic abuse programs. Shouldn’t that happen prior to starving human beings? Obviously the money exists– if only we could filter some of that $87,500 back from the 24-year old hands of the under-qualified, but politically-connected, HHS policy adviser.
And finally, these crime stats, collected into lump statistics designed to show an increase in crime specifically around Moore Square? I spent afternoon reading the individual crime report data and, yeah, Moore Square has more arrests than the proximate Nash Park. Quite a few drunk and disorderly charges around 2am, and DUIs that… WAIT! That’s it, we can solve the crime problem at Moore Square by closing the many bars that flank around surrounding streets.
All of that sarcasm aside, I’m not saying that the people living/working downtown don’t have a point about trash and outdoor bathroom usage (though I’ve not yet identified a free public restroom down there– very New York of us, hunh?), because they also have a voice that needs to be heard. Some of the people down there have expressed themselves with compassionate concern. I’d like to work with THOSE people.
Then there are these people:
“Screw ’em, they choose to be homeless, they should get a job.” Sure, sure. It’s not as if NC’s 8.7% unemployment rate (the national rate is 7.3%) creates job-finding difficulties– even for those with showers, homes, and the appropriate education.
Sidebar: The internet, and the anonymous, hate-filled minds that comment therein, causes more 3am nightmares for me than any dark alley, or homeless filled park.
I just… when I read the reasons for homelessness as tabulated by the folks that study that sort of thing, choice isn’t what leaps out at me.
Lately, whenever I hear a conservative this or that spout off about traditional American values; how we’ve forgotten what America stands for; how we need to get back to our forefather’s America I can’t help but think:
Though I think many of y’all skipped school the day teachers defined the real meaning behind all of that American symbology you’ve armored up in.