Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Homeless Vigil Tonight in Fall River

A Candle Light Vigil will be held today on the steps of St. Anne's Church to bring attention the plight of the homeless people in our community. The vigil starts at 6pm.

Homelessness is a perplexing issue.

Why do we focus on the 'the plight of the homeless' when the cold weather and the holidays approach? Do we feel when the weather is good, their not homeless their just camping? Am I the only one who feels it's a sad commentary to think that we suddenly care about our fellow man just because we feel festive and are drunk with the spirit of the season.

How bad is the homelessness in our area? I really wish I knew or that I could find some really good information to site but I can't. A few years go when I first heard about a 'homeless' issue in Fall River I didn't see it. That's not to say I didn't believe it, it is just something that what's smacking me right in the face.What I can say is that I notice more people now who I perceive to homeless than ever before.

It bothers me that more information isn't available. If this is really an issue in our city and in the area I want to know what's being done about it. If we have a significant homeless issue, how do we justify tearing down public housing? Why don't we have more homeless shelters?

I don't want to hear that the Mayor knows about the problem but chooses to minimize it or ignore it. I mean to a point this could be true but I am sick and tired of every one of the city's ills being placed on the Mayor's doorstep. City Hall is not going to solve all of our problems and we need to stop thinking that it should. Certainly City Hall should have a role but so should or citizens and our churches. In fact we shouldn't be looking at this as a Fall River issue at all because you simply can't have a homeless issue in Fall River without it having some sort of basis in Somerset, Swansea, Assonet, Westport, New Bedford, etc.

So, when people say well what has the Mayor and the city council done, I would ask what have we done as a region and is it enough?

The issue of homelessness isn't going to just go away while we wait for someone else to take care of it. Homelessness isn't just an issue that affects 'other' people. If you're living paycheck to paycheck, if you can't afford health insurance, if you have to choose between heat or food you are at risk of becoming homeless.

I hope tonight's vigil brings new attention the issue of homelessness in our area but I really hope that when the candles go out, we don't forget.

I am unable to link to the Herald News article covering tonight's vigil but want to include the following information.

Donations such as scarves, hats, gloves, underwear, socks and toiletries are welcome. Donations will also be accepted at the Alcoholism Council, 206 Winter Street, Salvation Army, 290 Bedford Street, and the First Step Inn, 177 North Main Street.


Dr. Momentum said...

One reason for the increased focus is probably the number of deaths that happen because of the cold when winter hits its worst weather. As it gets colder outside, this remonds people of how much we rely on the shelter of our homes.

Homelessness appears to be a growing problem. Is it that we have a shrinking middle class, and people are getting pushed out into the street?

In any case, it is a problem.

Lefty said...

I agree with you completly.

In a somewhat related conversation I told someone we have heat subsidies not because we want to keep people warm but because we don't want them to freeze to death!