Scourge of birth certificate registrars everywhere Kevn “Sic” Kinney penned the epigraphed lyrics in or around 1985. A decade earlier, non-Nazi and ardent proponent of reverse migration from Texas to Mexico Steve Miller jazz rockily advised, “House the people living in the street.” Had but Miller’s narrator met Kinney’s protagonist.
Instead, the harried and hectored urban hiker encountered a built environment looking something like what appears to the right. So wrong.
A solution to homelessness, as Maurice,1 assured with the Pompatous of Love,2 exists. Sheltering those who lack shelter solves things. People have known this since before people became people. Those cave painting at Lascaux and on Sulawesi did not daub themselves.
Of course, as soon as the first troglodyte missed their first mortgage payment, society relegated the evictee to sleeping rough3 or Dickensian prisons and workhouses.4 Even dehumanizing the houseless has a venerable history. Exedra, the curved and backless shallow step-type features of innumerable monuments and memorials, intentionally will not accommodate an idling Epicurus or plumb-tuckered Plato.
Enter Denver. Following the example of Salt Lake City, Colorado’s capital “provides what’s known as permanent supportive housing, [which] has housed over 280 struggling people since 2016 and reduced city spending on police, jail, ambulance and detox services.” SLC appears to have somewhat backed off its commitment to housing first/supportive housing. Denver should resist replicating that aspect of its western peer’s experience.
Simply paying for shelter works, too. Cities and counties all across the United States rented out hotels and rapidly upgraded shuttered hospitals and unrented office complexes during 2020 to get residents off their street. Continuing and expanding such programs will do much to prevent the shame of Los Angeles’ Skid Row and Austin’s burgeoning encampments.
Solve a problem in the comments. Your community will thank you. After spiraling for a bit on puns.