Los Angeles is the latest city to consider a ban on providing meals to the homeless in public.
Such a complex issue. My take: the centralized homeless services that make these public feedings possible are a mistake. Why? If most Atlantans want to avoid seeing the problems of homelessness up close, it’s easy — all they have to do is never go Downtown, never hang out around Hurt Park and Woodruff Park, never go near the Garnett MARTA Station…
The end result is that homelessness stays out of sight and out of mind for most Atlantans. Citizens who have a vote and could potentially become advocates for the needy — and pressure local politicians for better services for the homeless — don’t have this issue in mind the way they could if it wasn’t so simple to avoid.
Obviously, as a Downtowner, this point of view can be seen as a kind of harsh NIMBY-ism on my part: “spread out services for homeless so they aren’t all in my backyard!” But that’s far from the truth. If I didn’t want to live near homeless people, I would’ve never moved here.
I’m not tired of living among homeless people. What I’m tired of is seeing the status quo of insufficient services for homelessness continue year after year, while a general apathy about improvements to them pervades a city that, in large part, doesn’t see the problem.
There will be a lot of volunteer efforts to feed the homeless over the holidays and I think that’s a noble kind of charity, but what’s more important is asking ourselves why there are still so many homeless people to feed on the streets at Thanksgiving and what we can do about it.