Arguably the best policy, but every so often one cant avoid it. Feel free to plagiarize or adapt the response below as you encounter anti-homeless comments on social media (and/or in real life).
This particular comment featured the quaint notion that all a homeless Eugenean would have to do to be housed was to get a job, so that is where I began my response.
For those interested in basic facts, here is the annual Point-in-Time Count, in a one-page version: https://www.lanecounty.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_3585797/File/HSD/Highlights%202019%20Count.jpg
It is essential for people like you to understand the high cost of housing in Eugene today. A huge percentage of the 2,100+ unhoused people in Eugene/Springfield have a job; 40% of families coming to ShelterCare have at least one employed member.
Employed people are sleeping in cars because it isnt easy to save up first + last months rent + a deposit + application fees on a minimum-wage salary. There are 80 families in the city-sanctioned Overnight Car Camping program overseen by St. Vincent de Paul, and 70 more on the waiting list. The waiting lists for subsidized housing are all closed.
Many groups are working for the change that is essential to reduce the number of our neighbors who are unhoused — smaller and more affordable housing in abundant supply. Most Eugene neighborhoods have been fighting for years/decades to keep new housing out. This should not be allowed to continue. The consequences of this selfish, classist, misguided prejudice against renters have been disastrous and literally fatal for some.
Forty-four percent of area residents struggle to meet their basic needs — they live in poverty or have low-paying jobs and few assets, as detailed in United Ways excellent ALICE report: http://bit.ly/alice-report . Most Americans are one medical emergency or other catastrophe away from being homeless.
Eugeneans need to stop demonizing the unhoused as some kind of strange other breed of people, because they are us, just without the social safety net we are privileged to enjoy.
Beyond that, a shocking number of them are elders or children. Eight percent of the children in the Bethel School District are homeless, and 35 percent of those staying at the Eugene Mission are age 50 or older.
We also recommend taking the free public tours offered by Community Supported Shelters, St. Vincent de Paul, Opportunity Village Eugene, and the Eugene Mission to get an accurate picture of homelessness in Eugene today.
- CSS: http://communitysupportedshelters.org
- OVE: https://www.squareonevillages.org/tours
- Mission: https://eugenemission.org/tour-sign-up/
Our mayor and City Councilors would be encouraging this and doing it publicly themselves, if they wanted to provide real leadership.
If you cant handle that much reality, watch a few videos on the Invisible People channel on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh4pyZUB0mNzieaKv831flA), which interviews unhoused people across America and allows them to tell their stories. Then count your blessings, appreciate your privilege, and consider what you might do to be part of the solution.