Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Homelessness in the U.S.

I've been keeping my eye on this story, "Adding Homeless Shelters Is a Political Risk, but de Blasio Sees No Alternative." New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is running for reelection on the politically perilous pledge to build 90 new homeless shelters in five years. There are 60,000 people in New York City shelters currently, with countless others living on the street.

New York City is the capital of homelessness, surpassing Los Angeles, and far surpassing my city, Seattle. The big spike in NYC homelessness occurred under Mayor Mike Bloomberg's watch when the city's rental subsidy program collapsed.

Homelessness is at a crisis point in the United States. On any day walking to work along a major east-west arterial I bear witness to the new urban gestalt: a steady state of great affluence and what appears to be full employment spiced with numerous kernels of destitution. The homeless shuffle among the affluent like zombies. The Hoovervilles and hobo villages sprout up everywhere, particularly in the slivers of land along the Interstate.

De Blasio and Seattle's Ed Murray are trying to erect some sort of institutional foundation to shore up the societal collapse brought on by neoliberalism. The homeless in big U.S. cities are refugees akin to those from Africa and Middle East seeking safe harbor in northern Europe; they're economic casualties.


  1. Homelessness is a big issue out here in the provinces, too. Our rural-town Wal-Mart is ringed with people who live in their cars. Their numbers are definitely growing but their presence is no longer anything of concern. It's just part of going to Wal-Mart: you go to the center of the homeless camp, and there's all your cheap stuff in a big warehouse. The dystopian movies are coming true.

  2. For me, homelessness has replaced the weather as topic #1 with coworkers and acquaintances. And what's interesting is the "Oh, this is nothing new. There has always been homelessness" denials crop up about 50% of the time. People prefer to fantasize that the present tense is all there is, that way they don't have to fret about how squalid our lives have become.