Recently on our Facebook page, we posted an article about Columbia, S.C.’s plan to evict homeless individuals from the streets surrounding Main Street, a hotspot of shops, banks, and restaurants. (Read about it again in the NY Times.) The plan, to be enforced by police, gave homeless residents three choices: go to a shelter, go to jail, or leave the city.
In the NY Times article, Robert Adelman, a sociologist at the University of Buffalo, points out that “[…] all of these ordinances and policies just redistribute homeless persons. They don’t solve the problem of homelessness. You can’t jail people out of homelessness.” We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again: homelessness it not a crime.
The “solution” to homelessness that Columbia’s city councilors have come up with will not solve homelessness. It merely sends the message of “not in my backyard.” If the city wants to improve the lives of its residents, the focus should be on treatment to those on the streets with mental illnesses and making sure that they have the help they need.