Throw Them Out With the Trash: Why Homelessness Is Becoming an Occupy Wall Street Issue

Homeless ChildrenBarbara Ehrenreich writes on TomDispatch:

What the Occupy Wall Streeters are beginning to discover, and homeless people have known all along, is that most ordinary, biologically necessary activities are illegal when performed in American streets — not just peeing, but sitting, lying down, and sleeping. While the laws vary from city to city, one of the harshest is in Sarasota, Florida, which passed an ordinance in 2005 that makes it illegal to “engage in digging or earth-breaking activities” — that is, to build a latrine — cook, make a fire, or be asleep and “when awakened state that he or she has no other place to live.”

It is illegal, in other words, to be homeless or live outdoors for any other reason. It should be noted, though, that there are no laws requiring cities to provide food, shelter, or restrooms for their indigent citizens.

The current prohibition on homelessness began to take shape in the 1980s, along with the ferocious growth of the financial industry (Wall Street and all its tributaries throughout the nation). That was also the era in which we stopped being a nation that manufactured much beyond weightless, invisible “financial products,” leaving the old industrial working class to carve out a livelihood at places like Wal-Mart …

Read more here.

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  • Mr Willow

    It is illegal, in other words, to be homeless or live outdoors for any other reason. It should be noted, though, that there are no laws requiring cities to provide food, shelter, or restrooms for their indigent citizens.

    So rather than enact laws requiring a relatively safe environment such as a homeless shelter, everyöne just assumes a cell would be a more suitable place for them to be. Because in prison they have both food and shelter. Of course, because they’ve been jailed, and it will thus be on their record, it will be even harder for them to find work, because there are few places that will hire a ‘criminal’. 

    I wonder who thought this was a good idea? Who’s to find gain in criminalising something as innocent, and depressing, as homelessness? (i.e. What monetary incentive would this have to anyöne?)

    The joys of a for-profit prison system.

  • Mr Willow

    It is illegal, in other words, to be homeless or live outdoors for any other reason. It should be noted, though, that there are no laws requiring cities to provide food, shelter, or restrooms for their indigent citizens.

    So rather than enact laws requiring a relatively safe environment such as a homeless shelter to be in place, everyöne just assumes a cell would be a more suitable place for them to be. Because in prison they have both food and shelter. Of course, because they’ve been jailed, and it will thus be on their record, it will be even harder for them to find work, because there are few places that will hire a ‘criminal’. 

    I wonder who thought this was a good idea? Who’s to find gain in criminalising something as innocent, and depressing, as homelessness? (i.e. What monetary incentive would this have to anyöne?)

    The joys of a for-profit prison system.

    • SF2K01

      The number of places willing to hire the homeless are about equal to the number of places that’ll hire someone convicted of a crime, no strike that, there are more places that’ll hire a convict than the homeless.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    The Homeless lobbyists need to get on Congress about this.

    Imaging that, a country that spends trillions on weapons
    can’t find away to help the homeless
    but it sure knows how to make people homeless.

  • BuzzCoastin

    The Homeless lobbyists need to get on Congress about this.

    Imaging that, a country that spends trillions on weapons
    can’t find away to help the homeless
    but it sure knows how to make people homeless.

  • RoscoeMG

    That picture is one of the sadest things I’ve ever seen.

  • RoscoeMG

    That picture is one of the sadest things I’ve ever seen.

  • Simiantongue

    “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”   (Le Lys Rouge)

    Aaah! Liberty and justice for all!

  • Simiantongue

    “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”   (Le Lys Rouge)

    Aaah! Liberty and justice for all!

  • Anonymous

    The number of places willing to hire the homeless are about equal to the number of places that’ll hire someone convicted of a crime, no strike that, there are more places that’ll hire a convict than the homeless.

  • http://profiles.google.com/physexecsec Allison Hunt

    So I’m guessing masturbating in public is out of the question.

  • Allison Hunt

    So I’m guessing masturbating in public is out of the question.