Micah Posner: A night at the homeless shelter

Micah Posner: A night at the homeless shelter

“It’s not some big mystery,” one young man explained. “We’re homeless because we can’t afford rent.”

Citizens of Santa Cruz are often vociferously angry about homeless people.  Their level of intolerance and hateful rhetoric is uncommon and would be considered hate speech if it were addressed towards any other minority group in society.  I doubt that people who have never been homeless even have an informed position from which to judge. 

Rent is high, wages are low.  If you have physical or mental issues, you are probably going to have a difficult time making ends meet.  Some people who drink excessively or use “drugs” are trying to deal with severe pain.  And it depends on your definition of “drugs.”  Medical marijuana is an accepted pain reliever, but is still stigmatized by many as a “drug.”  The law, as I recall, requires people to smoke it in private.  Homeless people do not have privacy, they do not have homes.  One solution to this would be to review and change the law.  In a free country, people could choose which pain relievers they wish to use without fear of being arrested. 

As a person without a house, a bad back and a previous drinking problem, I speak from experience.  I would love to do good work and pay $100-200/month for a simple place to sleep.  Unfortunately, I don’t see these possibilities in the market.  I spent my 20’s working my way through college, I attended UC Berkeley.  I had four years working as a guitar teacher, but severe twists in my arms and back eventually forced me to quit.  Doctors could not make sense of my claims about my condition.  I was denied disability compensation.  I’ve often been unjustly harassed by local police officers.

I am a sixth generation Santa Cruzian.  I’m taking Santa Cruz back from Take Santa Cruz Back.  You guys don’t know what you’re talking about.

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