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COD, Dec. 21, 2020: Everyone responsible for homeless people | Letters



Everyone responsible for homeless people

On this day, across the nation, we remember our homeless neighbors who have died this past year. The date, the first day of winter, is a reminder that for too many, homelessness doesn’t matter until it gets cold, as if suffering outside in August or May somehow was acceptable.

I guess, we should be happy that there at least is a moment of concern. So, I do hope, on this day, you will pause and remember the neighbors we have lost. And this year, especially, there is another group who should be recognized. That is the many individuals who and organizations that have gone far beyond the call of duty to save lives on the streets, a daunting task in the midst of a pandemic.

It is impossible to convey the incredible transformation that service providers and volunteers have engineered to get as many people as possible, literally hundreds more than usual, into safe housing. Yet, despite their Herculean efforts, and that Richmond has one of the best developed systems of care for homeless persons in the U.S., they cannot meet the overwhelming need.

As a result, people remain on the street, and it is easy to blame those who provide shelter and other supports for that harsh reality. However, the truth is that ending homelessness is not solely the responsibility of an underfunded system that has no control over the poverty, racism and ill health that push people to the streets. Ending homelessness must be owned by everyone.


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