Since the ’80s, a homelessness crisis
has beset our country—your advice is?
Yes, the limerick’s a mistake;
human lives are at stake
and need hearts and minds for what the price is.
Homeless people that seem they’re carousing
aren’t attending a party you’re browsing.
Though called self-medication,
substances risk ruination.
A death sentence:— That’s life without housing.
* * *
Homeless advocates need education
if they say Housing First’s mere donation.
Though the clients pay cheap rent,
they are otherwise tenants
and meet weekly, their main obligation.
Besides, Housing First isn’t effective
to house one fifth of them, our objective.
While the shortage is glaring,
HF is a red herring,
a rhetorical tool sans perspective.
But for the great majority,
Sam Tsemberis, an authority,
knows that Housing First works,—
a fact that, while it irks,
speaks to its superiority.
For the youth or for families, best practices
vary widely in crises. The fact is
people have unique needs
and ways they’ll succeed
from their homelessness to back with us.
Homeless advocates need elocution
if they say housing is just ‘the solution.’
They commit negligent homicide
since they forget what’s the other side:
Vital services—no substitution.
Some communities, whose members commend,
have brought homelessness to functional end.
They have solved it for veterans,
ably mending their severance
from society; ‘chronics,’ too, friend.
* * *
Homeless advocates need legal training
if they say the courts are restraining
cities from notifying
and then storing the things
as they do after public complaining.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
And disrupting one’s life, what a pleasure
for housed residents cramped
by the people encamped
and supposedly living in leisure!
Could your notice of ‘cleanup’ have chastened
disenfranchised, broke people, obeisant?
Your ‘abatement of nuisance’
may not inject translucence
in the people whose demise you’ve hastened.
Being forced to move, how are they ‘tramps’
when they lack stable, organized camps
because we lack the foresight
to keep them safe at night
and to help by the light of our lamp?
The smug residents shout while they hiccup
they’re the host of a citywide stickup.
(Do you breathe when you shout?
How would life be without
sanitation crews doing your pickups?)
You would do well to blame unto others
(meaning your homeless sisters and brothers),
as you’d first blame yourself
with perspective on wealth.
Then, indulge your dear, cosmetic druthers.
Rich societies have as their mission
both to look and be good—our moral omission.
And we still have to own it;
by no means condone it
as society’s social condition.
* * *
In our country, the crisis persists,
despite efforts through those by-name lists.
Not all cities, nor ‘hotspots,’
elect government despots.
Some at least let the people subsist.
Courts of law are not advocates’ make-believe:
Homeless advocates go with the take-and-give.
The decision in Boise
wasn’t dreamt up or noisy;
but somewhere, the people shall sleep to live.
Local government comes not from vacuums
as some advocates quickly assume.
Though its policy’s a better choice,
across decades still NIMBY’s dreader voice
drowns the officials in Fresno’s club room.
Unlike past decades, the wrongs are few.
But how great if the injured is you!
So, record those employees,
as they handle your properties,
for Risk Management or ACLU.
* * *
All those unsheltered folks are perceptible.
Their condition—but you are susceptible.
Question our and their propriety:
As a condition of society,
this much homelessness is unacceptable.
Living in the shadow and effect
of each other, we must learn respect.
Not arrived on the same boat,
we now sing our lives, grace notes
in concert, note values we strive to protect.