We are not a just society and when it comes to homelessness, somehow being the poorest of poor is an excuse for others to vent their vitriol about what they assume is a lifestyle by choice. That assumption often manifests itself in bad policies by city officials that make a bad situation even worse. Take for instance the growing numbers of cities enacting “civility laws.” I’d like to know just how aware these cities are that they are making survival harder than it needs to be. It’s easy to speak from a platform the homeless don’t have or judge them for not having anywhere else to go since people don’t want to see the poor up close and personal otherwise there wouldn’t be town hall meetings to protest a new shelter or service set up near where they live.
From personal experience I have seen the city of Kent use police to remove local homeless people from public areas, which is laughable considering that Kent’s homeless population is second only to Seattle’s. I have experienced a Kent School Principal telling me my kid couldn’t attend because that particular Principal thought she could ignore the McKinney-Vento Act. I have caught Kent officers in the act of walking through public parks phishing homeless people for warrants and if they didn’t have a warrant, cops made bogus accusations that the homeless were camping in the park which from what I saw, there was no proof of them doing so. Used to be that officers would also be in the Kent library and if any homeless person should fall asleep from total exhaustion, they were asked to leave. We all know it’s the Mayor’s office behind this because her remarks have been overheard regarding homeless people. The city of Kent has repeatedly found “reasons” not to let any agency use the resource building in downtown Kent that has been sitting empty for years. It’s also interesting to look at the reasons why that building was set up and how many tax dollars have been siphoned off the utility tax originally used to get the resource center built. The Showare Center is a shining example of cronyism at work. How much is it losing every year now? The amount of money used to build it could’ve housed most of the homeless population from and still in Kent.
The business community in Kent has some legitimate concerns but I have caught them acting out of ignorance more than with knowledge of our reality. Do you really think by demonizing the homeless population, things will get better for them or is your bottom line, which is affected more by the economy than homeless people, will improve if the visibly poor were swept off the streets in Gestapo fashion? You have no idea how many invisible homeless people live in your community. We already know about your homeless bigotry since we are the direct targets of it. You hide your practice behind ordinances that were invented to discriminate against the survival of homeless people and yet your homeless numbers are skyrocketing. Even when the city of Kent removed park benches so that homeless people couldn’t use them, it didn’t stop people from becoming homeless or leaving the city.
Churches have limited resources so pushing off the burden on them is a fallacy and unrealistic. Pushing your homeless population off onto other cities resources should result in those cities suing you for any financial impact made on their hospitals, human services, food banks, etc. Kent needs to take care of its local homeless population instead of discriminating against them but so long as ignorant behavior and denial exists among city council members and the Mayor’s office, the plight of the homeless in Kent will go from bad to worse. I should know. I happen to be one.