Thursday, December 15, 2011

Do Occupiers Help or Endanger Homeless People?

I pity anyone who's facing the winter as a homeless resident of Boston, Massachusetts. Carol Bengle Gilbert, who has successfully escaped Boston winters and writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, wonders how attempts to disperse "Occupy Boston" will affect homeless Bostonians:

If Boston property owners don't want to disperse homeless Bostonians along with the Occupiers, they must be a great deal nicer than Washington property owners. My guess is that efforts to break up Occupiers' camps may well be a cover-up for efforts to persuade many homeless Bostonians to move on. No matter how cold the weather may be, large groups of people who don't have regular access to modern plumbing are not pleasant to have around.

However, I have to raise the semi-contrarian question: How are the Occupiers, most of whom have homes to go back to, relating to the homeless population by this stage? Have relationships formed? Will any of the less conspicuous, employable or even employed, homeless people be moving in with any of the Occupiers this winter? There have been reports of violence among Occupiers--what about violence between Occupiers and homeless people?

Cities like Boston, Washington, and New York are so overcrowded at best that I'm actually surprised that there's not been more violence.