Debate rages on about homelessness. (THE NEWS/files)

Debate rages on about homelessness. (THE NEWS/files)

Everyone’s part of the neighbourhood, homeless too

Columnist doesn't offer solutions, says prof

Editor: The News

Re: “Getting past the homeless rhetoric” (The News, Oct. 4)

Tom Fletcher’s rather mean-spirited column tries to pose angry people who oppose support for homeless people (or who resent the presence of homeless people period) as community members simply trying to protect their neighbourhoods.

Well, this might be news for Mr. Fletcher, but homeless people are part of our communities and residents of our neighbourhoods. Fletcher’s false narrative would seek to set up a division between supposedly legitimate community members (i.e. property owners?) and illegitimate ones (i.e. homeless people). Or to suggest that, actually, homeless people are somehow not part of our communities after all. He even feels the need to distinguish between genuine wounds and illnesses, as if it is his right to decide.

As tireless as Ivan Drury might be as an activist, he is only one part of a larger movement supporting homeless people. That movement has a broader community base of support. Fletcher here seeks to downplay the efforts of compassionate community members to justify his support for the angry. And why, on the other hand, do anti-poverty activists get condemned when they express anger over social injustice anyway?

The angry often pose as concerned for their neighbourhoods – when what it really is, is prejudice toward homeless people.

Concern for our neighbourhoods should extend to concern for our neighbours, who might well be homeless. Or is it really only about concern for property after all?

In the end, Fletcher does not get past the homeless rhetoric, he only adds to it.

He offers no real solutions, only a rant – yes, an angry one – against homeless people that tries to suggest that they are all drug users, or criminals, or welfare cheats.

These are all familiar words used to knock our homeless neighbours. Do we speak in the same way about our housed neighbours using drugs, committing crime, etc. – because some do?

Jeff Shantz

Department of Criminology

Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Maple Ridge News