Letter: Thinking of the Homeless
To the Editor:
The recent extreme cold weather had me huddled in front of my wood stove in the comfort of my home, grateful that I had to make only short excursions outside in below-zero temperatures. It also made me aware of those who don’t have a wood stove, a home or the luxury of being warm. Hoping to encourage people to think of the plight of the homeless, I did a little research into the myths surrounding homelessness. The big one is that they are unwilling to work. The fact is that many homeless people do work and that home foreclosures and a lack of affordable housing have resulted in whole families being without shelter, sometimes temporarily and sometimes not. The lack of public washrooms and laundromats make it impossible for someone without a permanent home to get work, something many of us take for granted. You can’t get a job or keep a job without clean clothes and the ability to shower. You need a physical address to get a job.
More than one-third of single homeless individuals in the U.S. are military veterans, according to a 2009 study. One-third.
As I wrap up warmly in front of my wood stove, I have to think of those without. I can’t imagine how long the night would be outside in the cold. I can’t imagine carrying all of my belongings with me in one bag everywhere I go. How heavy would that bag feel at the end of the day? How about having no shower, sink or toilet?
I hope that citizens of the Upper Valley can have conversations with municipal leaders about homelessness. Towns used to have a small building set aside for travelers with nowhere else to go. Can we do less now? How about one acre of land dedicated to public washrooms, a whole line of lockers, picnic tables, fireplaces and a roofed windbreak to offer shelter to those without. It may not be practical, but let’s have this discussion.