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Government Must House Our People

From the editors  |  Issue: February | March 2016
Elderly woman searches for food

Elderly woman searches for food.
PHOTO: Shutterstock


In an economy based on private property, government serves the owners of the means of production, who in our society are primarily the large banks and corporations. When those corporations begin to rely on automated production instead of human labor, they no longer pay the wages necessary for people to buy the bare necessities of human life. They are also no longer willing to pay taxes for housing and other government programs designed to meet human needs. The result is rising poverty and homelessness all across America.

The ultimate solution is a cooperative economy explicitly organized around meeting human needs instead of private profit. This means overturning the corporate dictatorship and replacing it with a government of working people, by working people, and for working people. The question is how to get there from where we are now, struggling to survive and grappling with the immediate crisis.

The most important step is to unite the homeless, the people of conscience who support them, and all the workers who can be united into a political movement to fight uncompromisingly for the immediate needs of all workers, especially the most destitute.

Unity means coming together regardless of color or immigration status. The homeless can play a leading role in this process because they themselves are experiencing what it means to be “illegal” – they are criminalized for sitting or sleeping, and lack many of the same legal protections that immigrants lack.

Unity also means coming together regardless of the various subgroups into which the government tries to divide the homeless: it means defending the families with children, the veterans, the women, the “chronically homeless,” the situationally homeless, people with disabilities, everyone.

One way to start building a united political movement is to demand that the government take control of all government- and bank-owned vacant homes and use them to house the homeless and others who need them. The polarization of wealth is so extreme now that more and more housing is being used strictly as an investment vehicle, and not as shelter to protect human beings from the elements. In many markets speculators are now buying so-called “ghost houses,” in which they do not live or even rent them out, but leave them empty while waiting for prices go up for resale.

It is time to come together and hold our government accountable to actually house the homeless, not just make proclamations and pose for political photo opportunities.

Un Comentario | One Comment

  1. Tamar Diana Wilson says:

    It is a national shame and an indictment of unbridled capitalism that housing cannot be provided for the homeless.
    Unfotunately there is money to be made by “treating” them, after defining them as deviants in some form or another. This money would better be spent building affordable housing and raising the minimum wage.

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