Over the last month, as people sleeping in easements, people who have no home and no access to shelters (because they are full), were asked to relocate their tents, the City of Phoenix started chaining off the dirt areas. These posts and chains now cover several blocks in the neighborhood of the Human Services Campus between 13th Avenue and 9th Avenue and Madison and Jefferson Streets.
People who have no home, who have nowhere to go are now told "you are not welcome here." People who have no home to isolate in from Coronavirus, now have less public space to simply exist in.
Personally, I do not think tents in these spaces are necessarily attractive. However I do know that there are not enough shelter beds, there is not enough affordable housing, not enough supportive housing. And there is a Supreme Court (9th Circuit Court) decision that says people cannot be arrested for sleeping in public spaces when there is no shelter bed available.
And in a City proud of its ongoing population growth and economic development, the response to homelessness is to move people that privileged people don't want to see - moving to where we don't know... most likely to someone else's neighborhood where they will also be told they can't be. Thus making it impossible for people who have no home to be allowed anywhere.
Some days I want to hang my head and cry over our collective inability to meet all of the need. And again I think the people in power who are making decisions, are not the people who have to look another human being in the eyes and say "I don't know where you can go. I can't help you today."
I'm reminded of the Tears for Fears song "Woman in Chains," which includes the lyrics “It's under my skin but out of my hands. I'll tear it apart but I won't understand. I will not accept the greatness of man. It's a world gone crazy. Keeps Woman in Chains. So Free Her. So Free Her."
At the Human Services Campus we believe that every human being deserves access to safe shelter and affordable housing. We won’t tell people to move along, we welcome them in.