Homeless need help not to hide

In Fort Lauderdale, Fla. there have recently been laws passed limiting the number of “feeding sites” that can exist for local homeless people. The regulations include rules requiring each site to be at least 500 feet away from residential neighborhoods — as well as any other site — and also prohibits homeless from sleeping and/or storing their belongings on public property. Fort Lauderdale isn’t the first city to establish laws of this nature, in fact it’s one of over thirty to take similar action recently. The Mentor editorial board, after reading on these laws, sat down to discuss the pros and cons of the laws as well as the general ethics behind them.

The main reason given by officials for the establishment of these policies is to promote tourism. When the streets are filled with homeless and struggling people it becomes a far less appealing vacation destination and people are quick to tuck away their cameras and — more importantly — wallets.

One of the many concepts the editorial board found disturbing, and frankly inhumane, was the idea of hiding poverty as a means to make money. Stashing away these homeless and moving them to the other side of town where they can continue living a life on the streets, no longer an eyesore on the town, rather than attempting to address, or even resolve, the problem it is merely swept under the rug. Officials, when speaking on the number of homeless individuals living in the area, blame it on the good weather. They’re talked about like animals and an inconvenience rather than people with a story and struggles that no one cares to learn of or understand. This is the type of issue that we should focus on stopping before it happens, because prevention is much easier than getting people off of the streets once they’ve been pushed there and sucked into the cycle of poverty.

What it all comes down to is opportunities. Everyone should be given an equal chance to make a life for themselves that is better than the previous generations. Granted that there are some people living on the streets who are there strictly as a result of their own actions and choices, but many are there because they didn’t know how to do better. When you grow up in a world of crime, substance abuse, gang affiliation and poverty it’s incredibly difficult to break away from, especially with there’s no one on your side.

We need to provide resources to avoid or escape these situations, rather than blaming or hiding the homeless. They’re victims, not an annoyance.