“Just because they live in a tent, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a heart,” a local Los Angeles woman said.
The woman was describing a tragedy in Los Angeles where a homeless man named Africa was shot and killed by an officer.
According to the Los Angeles Times, officers were trying to get Africa out of his tent, and he would not budge. Officers moved into his tent and force him out.
Why were the officers in L.A. near Africa’s home in the first place?
If you believe the job of the police is to obliterate the homeless population, the police interference may be justified.
But the question remains: Is this the way to approach the situation?
Officers are ordered to clear way and make the homeless leave, but where do they expect them to go when they have no home?
Recently, I encountered the same questions when I had the privilege to travel to Arizona during spring break and work in Andre House, a ministry to the homeless and poor populations of the Phoenix area.
Around the area, I encountered hundreds of homeless people who shared Africa’s problem: they have no place to go.
However, in places like Phoenix, there are strict laws prohibiting homelessness anywhere except the shelters. But consider that the shelters are full and there is not enough space to roof these 500-plus people, then where are they to go?
Do these people become like Africa and get shot by police because they too are making a tent to provide a roof over their heads? The answer should be no. This is not justice.
For some, constantly seeing homeless people at stop lights and bumming around the streets can be irritating. Those people are not looking outside of their own little bubbles.
I am sure you and I have both been asked (jokingly or not) why they don’t get a job at McDonald’s or any other fast food chain. But, do they consider the fact that these people have no access to clean running water to shower? Have they wondered how a person might wash his or her work clothes?
Imagine having to show up to work when you have yet to sleep because you were wandering the streets looking for somewhere to sleep away from the eyes of the police.
There is no way to survive like this, you and your friends and family would think. To thousands of others, it is the only way to survive.
For these homeless people, this is the reality.
Perhaps the worst part of their reality is how unnecessary it is. Yes, there is enough money in the world to end this epidemic. However, so far, there is not enough housing and there are nowhere near the number of advocates needed to help spread awareness and stop homelessness.
My best proposition to end these situations like the ones dealing with Africa are to provide a sanctuary for the homeless. A place they know they can go and be guaranteed a roof over their heads and some food at night.