Dan Quirk’s “rumination” on homelessness, widely distributed by email last Friday, was simplistic and myopic. A commentary in the LA Times on Saturday tells a compelling story of how deeply complex homelessness is, all the failures of government, and the many layers of humanity it takes to get someone off the streets. (Steve Lopez, “He Was Homeless and in Hospice. His recovery is a lesson in what it takes to save a life.“) A few days ago, there was this much longer piece that is devastating to read:“Pregnant, homeless, and living in a tent.”
One common thread running through so much of homelessness is the fact that children are born and abandoned or taken away from abusive or neglectful families, placed into foster care, and start a cycle of dysfunction that often culminates in homelessness when they grow up. Some statistics (data!) say that 50% of foster children who age out of the system in California are homeless within two years. I work for California CASA, and know something about this crisis.
For Data Dan to tell us that Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, and Alabama have the answer is just ridiculous. All 5 of those states have terrible U.S. stats for child mortality, maternal mortality, child abuse, poor education, poverty, etc. Louisiana is #50 or close to it in most measured categories. And of course now that Roe is overturned and these states have all rushed to ban abortion, imagine the influx of yet MORE unwanted children into foster care systems.
Dan is just obsessed with data, I guess, but maybe he can’t imagine what real people go through in real life. Beyond data, we need insight, compassion, and a deep dive into the problem. Governor Newsom’s Care Court Shelter program is an example of a solution that might actually address this problem. Data Dan seems more interested in blaming those “who consistently reject offers of shelter and supportive services and engage in destructive social behavior.” That is a skewed and simplistic perspective that we, as a humane and caring community, should reject.
Editors note: Also on homelessness, in the June Sandpiper: Care Court Shelter, by Dwight Worden.