The “choices” people make that lead to their becoming homeless or temporarily reliant on social services like emergency shelters or food banks are rarely as straight forward as those suggested in Wednesday’s editorial (“Make a Choice,” Our View, July 23).
Many women and youth wind up homeless after deciding to flee an abusive living situation. Their choice? Endure sexual/physical violence or leave with nothing and hope to rebuild their life.
Others lack permanent shelter because of addiction or mental illness or disability or serious injury or being laid off at work — all things they had zero choice in. Similarly, a shocking number of LGBT teens are kicked out of their home by unaccepting parents.
Perhaps some people did make poor decisions that left them to living out of a car or camping in the forest. But we don’t deny food and shelter to people who are homeless “by choice” for the same reason we don’t deny medical care to people who choose not to eat right and get enough exercise.
We don’t hold back the ambulance if somebody is injured because they chose to ride a motorcycle or ski a treed run.
We take care of people — regardless of the choices they make — because it’s the right thing to do. Nobody is immune to poverty. If you should happen to fall on hard times and lose your home, wouldn’t you want a judgment-free place to stay until you got back on your feet?
Sam Van Schie