February 5, 2015, Prescott- I read something in the paper today about a major Men’s Overflow Shelter in Phoenix, which is closing. It will be replaced by a new shelter, “later this year”. In the meantime, people affected by this closure- all individuals with various social ills- will be “housed” in the parking lot adjacent to the condemned building. It has Port-a- Potties, and lots of space, but no shade.
I had a brief experience, helping a transient man, during January. He has a vehicle now, and so he has moved on. Few such people get out of their dire straits so easily.The people in the situation mentioned above will likely find their ways to various city parks, libraries (a good place to get out of the heat, during regular library hours) and shopping malls. Some even go to Indian casinos, where they can chow down on bar food, provided they’ve cleaned up a bit.
Homelessness does generate resourcefulness. I had a brief experience with it in 1977, in the dead of a Bangor, ME winter, but there were a few couches on which to surf, and my car was large enough to hold all my possessions, at the time. As luck would have it, I rented a room within three days of being evicted. Said eviction, I found out later, was on false pretenses, but no matter. I had a great experience with my new landlady and her family.
Every town has its homeless. What is done with, and to, the unfortunates is a mirror of what the given community thinks of itself. Utah, and some places in Idaho, offer mini-houses, rather than forcing people to congregate on the streets. Portland has people sleeping in doorways of businesses. Many merchants seem to regard the door minders as part of their business family, and let them use the restroom to sponge bathe and groom themselves, before the normal business hours begin. In Arizona, we have shelters, which are often dependent on how cold the nights are, or how hot the days, as to when they are actually open. Some Florida communities give their transients one-way bus tickets, out of town. Hawaii has a few beaches which seem to be reserved for the homeless. I read that Fairbanks had a major power outage at the University of Alaska, in -40 weather, so I shudder to think how people down on their luck would fare up there, with so many students needing in out of the Deep Freeze.
Parking lots, bridge undergirding, caves, forests, back alleys- it seems Utah has the better solution.