It is cold as Ann Coulter’s heart in Chicago. Which means, many homeless people, will be utilizing public spaces, to keep warm.
The most vulnerable homeless population is that of double diagnosis: substance abuse and mental illness. These are the folks who are unable to stay in a shelter, housing, and generally the group most looked down on and seen as inhuman.
My plea to you is this:
1) relax about smells: it is freezing cold and many people don’t have access to showers.
2) relax about “weird behavior”- Chicago’s Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and former governor, Bruce Rauner, closed the majority of the community mental health hospitals. There are people without access to medical doctors, medication, or treatment. They are ill. Most shelters have policies that do NOT allow people who have severe mental illness to stay. But they are human and need to be inside from the cold. Currently, the options for the mentally homeless population is to go to jail or a hospital. Both are unacceptable options, especially in dangerous cold behavior.
3)relax about substance abuse- stopping drug use isn’t an easy process. It damn sure doesn’t happen, just because it is cold. Most shelters have policies that do NOT allow people who are on drugs, or intoxicated, to stay. Which means, most are left on the street or sent to jail.
4) Relax about stealing winter coats- It is cold. A proper winter coat costs upwards of $300. I can barely afford a quality winter coat. Assume if a person steals your north face or goose whatever, they need it more than you. If you want to do something, do a local coat drive, for quality winter coats and protective gear, for the homeless.
5) Relax about yourself, and your need to be comfortable and hidden from the effects of poverty. America, usually does a good job of hiding the most vulnerable citizens from those who are comfortable. When people who are not used to seeing the severely poor, severely ill, homeless, no healthcare, substance abuse, fellow humans, they immediately want them “put away from sight.” But, again, it is freezing out there.
Your need to live in comfort, and even your right to ride the train, in your fancy warm coat, listening to your music in peace, without the distractions of unpleasant poor, sick people, is not a priority. The priority is people finding warmth wherever they can. Currently, there are less than a DOZEN, non-jail, non-hospital, shelter options for people with serious illness.
We have a crisis of morality in our city and nation as it pertains to how we treat the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens and our brothers and sisters in God. We need major policy overhauls. We also need for good people with are privileged, (i.e. you and me) to show some compassion and be willing to be inconvenienced so that ALL people, can stay out of the deadly, bitter, cold weather.