World Homeless Day: Our Reflection
Homelessness makes people’s lives and environments less predictable, but more than anything it makes them extremely vulnerable. Even in cases of violence by people experiencing homelessness, the victims are frequently experiencing homelessness themselves.
As the world continues to process the horror of the violence that claimed four lives who were experiencing homelessness in Manhattan on Saturday, October 5th early morning, we, too, at Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless feel profound sadness, shock and bewilderment. On World Homeless Day, we stand in solidarity with Manhattan and communities across the world, especially the families, loved ones, and communities who are experiencing homelessness, in this time of mourning.
Without a doubt, this is one of those times when we truly understand what Manhattan is feeling right now. Even here locally, in 2014 and in 2018, three Navajo men who were experiencing homelessness were murdered in Albuquerque while rough sleeping. Last week in Los Angeles, the Guardian reported growing dangers of vigilantism. It has made the city unfriendly for those who are experiencing homelessness. In the report, an interview from a man named Chris said, “Unfortunately, I try not to sleep. And it sucks, because you can’t dream if you don’t sleep, and I’m a dreamer.” The report also states vigilante Facebook groups can be linked to the rise in harassments and attacks on people experiencing homelessness. It is evident, homelessness puts people at higher risk for being victims of crime.
These are just the murders that made the headlines. What about the others whom we will never mourn publicly? What about women? What about transgender women, particularly transgender women of color whose names we will never know? We can take seriously what we all know to be profoundly true, rough sleeping is a dangerous and isolating experience.
People sleeping rough are more likely to be victims of crime and almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence (It’s No Life At All, 2016). Women are particularly vulnerable, nearly 1 in 4 have been sexually assaulted whilst rough sleeping. This can’t continue.
Everyone has a story. “Homelessness” is a circumstance, not a personality trait. The people in these stories did not choose homelessness.
Learn more. Know the facts. Take action.
Donate today to AHCH or anywhere your values are reflected in services across our country.
For far too many, homelessness is inhumane and it’s degrading. Above all, homelessness is unacceptable.
We have more work to do to deal with the constant threats to people who are homelessness from both within and without.
-Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless