By BRIAN AURICCHIO
Businesses located in downtown Fredericksburg have made it clear: keep the homeless out. Micah Ecumenical Ministries, a group that helps the homeless, has stopped serving free breakfast because of pressure from local businesses.
According to the Free Lance-Star, “Micah leaders also have decided to move breakfasts to the cold-night shelter in November. That shelter on State Route 3 in southern Stafford County opens when the weather dips below 32 degrees in winter months. On days the shelter doesn’t open, breakfast won’t be offered to the homeless.”
Local businesses have complained that these homeless people are panhandling, trespassing and loitering. There has also been talk of Micah attracting the homeless to the downtown area. It seems that an appropriate business climate for these companies involves only “desirable customers.”
Downtown Fredericksburg is desperately trying to create an image. The brick sidewalks, angled parking, clock towers, the lack of chain stores and electrical wires all fuel a consumer-friendly, idealized community.
This image does not include the homeless.
This is just an example of how the homeless are pushed to the political periphery, shoved aside and largely forgotten about. Out of sight, out of mind. We can now freely wander the downtown atmosphere guilt-free while antique shopping or meandering through the area.
It’s seems like our politicians are following a similar patter.
According to the New York Times, Obama’s last State of the Union, “was only the second time since Harry S. Truman’s State of the Union address in 1948 that such a speech by a Democratic president did not include a single mention of poverty or the plight of the poor.”
Well, if you believe the mainstream media, it’s their fault they’re homeless anyway, right?
This lack of discourse reflects a creed that has been the epitome of our strategy on homelessness: make it invisible.
A lack of affordable housing, an increasing number in foreclosures nationwide and a high unemployment rate are all putting pressure on social services whose funding is being slashed.
All too often we hear that their poverty is contingent upon their motivation to get a job, or that substance abuse and behavioral traits are larger barriers to economic success than the structural injustice that has disadvantaged certain groups from the beginning.
If we have learned anything from the 2008 financial crisis, it’s that a lack of human decency or morality does not depend on income.