Ironic Twist: Homeless Join Occupy Movement, Economic System Failure Overload
In an ironic twist, homeless folks are increasingly seeking out the "comfort" of shelter and food at Occupy sites in many cities nationally. Where the cities have once again fallen down on their social contract, the Occupy Movement is succeeding with the homeless, but there are problems that the Occupiers and homeless across the nation must resolve from fights, to mere free-loading to image problems. Yet, there are many homeless who understand, relate to and support the cause and are working "hand-in-glove" with the protesters.
Many of these homeless have severe mental disabilities. Their disease entities overwhelm and victimize so that the sufferers cannot cope with taking meds or receiving treatment. As the disease punishes them and those who are around them, they find social interactions untenable. Sometimes being better off alone, they often perceive living in shelters or half-way houses as too "confining."
Cities' social services programs, under economic pressure, have not found ready solutions to adequately help their homeless populations. The Occupy Movement may have provided a temporary solution, but the movement is not necessarily equipped to deal with the homeless' mental derangement which may cause volatile, disruptive or abjectly dysfunctional behaviors. In various Occupy sites, Nashville, LA, Portland, New York, Chicago, Phoenix, organizers are trying to be all-inclusive, recognizing that the homeless' plight is the symbolism fueling the Occupy Movement. (Nagourney, The New York Times) (Tamara Audi, The Wall Street Journal)
But "the optics of shopping carts piled high with worldly possessions and the clearly homeless sleeping on available free tarps aren't great for the movement's already-under-fire public image." (Noreen Malone, The New York Times) Vincent Hero explained to the New York Times correspondent, “It’s bad for most of us who came here to build a movement. We didn’t come here to start a recovery institution.”
Listing the chronically indigent (not those who have temporarily given up leases and quit jobs to take a stand) the homeless population at Occupy sites could be up to 30 percent. But throughout the country, it is unclear if this percentage is accurate. Nevertheless, homeless do show up to spend the night.
Though the homeless' situation may indicate the culture's failure to "take care of its own," reflecting the ills that the Occupy Movement protests, some are not there for the cause. They are their because their lives are made easier by others' work, work they are often too mentally incapacitated to do for themselves. Food, bathrooms, safety, company and activity offer an opportunity they didn't have before. (Adam Nagourney, The New York Times)Continued on the next page