The Homeless Are Still With Us, and They Still Have A Heartbeat
Among the afflictions and indignities visited upon the homeless, today's surreal news of a Medicaid scheme that preyed on them - perpetrators including 23 New York City doctors and medical workers allegedly made millions by recruiting the poor and homeless from shelters and soup kitchens as "guinea pigs" for bogus medical tests in exchange for a free pair of shoes - is uncommonly vile. Most days, the homeless are just shunned, scorned, ignored and assailed, as a new campaign by the Canadian advocacy group Raising the Roof makes grievously clear.
The campaign, with the hashtag #HumansForHumans, seeks to "change the conversation" about the homeless by presenting them as they are - real people, with real histories and sorrows and pain, living hard lives they did not choose. To foster understanding and hopefully empathy, it includes questions frequently asked of them - "Why can't your family help you?" "How did you become homeless?" "Do you use drugs?" "If you're freezing to death why don't you just get a job DUHHH?" - with their often bleak, pained, patient answers. Another video features homeless people explaining what they want the rest of us to know. But the most searing part is a PSA that - in a nod to the usually light-hearted prank of celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves - shows the homeless reading actual, often pitiless tweets aimed at them. "Maybe if homeless people took care of themselves, looked pretty, we would want to help them," Kubby, homeless for 47 years, dutifully reads. "I don't help yellow teeth." "If home is where the heart is, are homeless people heartless?" asks another. Each brutal reading is followed by a mournful shake of the head, or a soft "wow," or, often, tears. Weep with them, and for them, and then lend a hand or heart.