The war against the homeless has been raging for years now, with politicians going so far as banning feeding the homeless is some areas of the country, and criminalizing homelessness altogether elsewhere. While the government does spend money in a superficial attempt to address the massive number of people on the streets, the money being thrown at this problem doesn’t seem to be helping.
Homelessness continues to rise across the US as Americans face the highest levels of poverty since the Great Depression. Although it’s being claimed that the economy has recovered, the majority of Americans are unfortunately not being included in the rocket-like rise of the stock market. Here’s a quick look at the real numbers that this “recovery” has produced:
Image credit: jobmarketmonitor.com
So while the rich are getting extremely rich, the working poor and mentally ill are increasingly being forced into the streets. The cause of this uptick in people living without a roof over their heads can clearly be attributed to income inequality and poor healthcare, however no structural reforms to the economy are even being talked about currently by politicians or the media. Existing government funded medical institutions like the VA that have traditionally helped many homeless are plagued by corruption, inefficiency, and waste.
Anger boiled over a few weeks ago after pictures of ‘anti-homeless’ spikes being posted on social media went viral. Not only is homelessness being literally criminalized, now they are being treated like animals in some places with these inhumane measures. Luckily, after activists took matters into their own hands to destroy these spikes, the people who put them in place had them removed.
Now, as if answering the calls on social media to create solutions instead of ruthless deterrents, a charitable group called RainCity Housing has created a bus bench that turns into a shelter for people living on the streets!
According to Mic.com, RainCity specializes in accommodation and support services for the homeless in Vancouver. They used designs that feature welcoming slogans on the bench backboard. During the daytime, the benches are places to wait for a bus or sit. At night, they convert into usable shelters where the backboard lifts up to provide shelter. Images via Mic.com
Although this is far from a cure for the problem of homelessness, it’s a humane way to help people in need while working to figure out more solutions.
Many people are aware of the fact that there are more vacant homes than there are homeless people, Utah has taken this into account for their housing programs which have a goal of ending homelessness in the state. Through it’s Housing First program which gives no strings attached apartments to homeless people, Utah is on track to outright end homelessness by 2015!
Another great idea that is being put to use is building tiny houses for people who are homeless, you can see how that is working in the video below.