Today, a friend told me that there’s a new “initiative” in the neighborhood, to ban rental houses so that poor people “on assistance” won’t be able to move in here. I don’t know yet if it’s true. I was horrified but not surprised. I’ve written about this neighborhood before– it’s quite a poor neighborhood until right up against the cliff that separates it from downtown. That road along the cliff, and the block or two radiating from it, is where the wealthy and middle-class people live. Most of them are Catholic; many work at the university. They’re always trying to do whatever they can to keep us away, for “safety” and to drive up the value of their homes.
I am used to being thought of as unsafe. When I first came here, I tried to get along with my fellow Catholics, but I quickly realized that all but a few of them think I’m a horrible person and unsafe. I’m grateful for those few, but they can’t shield me from the others. The others say they hope I don’t vote and talk about how uncomfortable for them it is, for people like me to be in the neighborhood. They want their children to play on perfect streets with other children who are just like they are, free from contamination by any other cultures. They want to be surrounded by people who are middle or upper middle class, Catholic, economically libertarian, staunchly Republican, with four or more children all named traditionalist virtue-signaling names like “Gianna” and a plaster statue of Our Lady of Grace on the lawn. Anyone else is unsafe. As a poor Catholic “on assistance,” who only managed to have one child, who isn’t a Republican or an economic libertarian, and who likes icons better than plaster statues, I’m unsafe.
All the poor people on “assistance” are unsafe, and ought to be pressured out of the neighborhood, according to these people. If this “initiative” isn’t real or doesn’t pass, they’ll think of another way. For the safety of the children, and for the increased value of their homes. The poor on “assistance” have to go.
I wonder where they think the poor will go.
A gentleman told me once that the reason there are so many poor people here in this part of town, is that the City closed one half of the public housing apartments, the ones up near the university. So the poor people with Section Eight vouchers migrated here, to rental houses on the hilltop. I don’t know if it’s true, but it sounds like something that would happen.
I wonder where the poor will migrate to if the middle-class Catholics manage to get their own way.
Maybe they’ll all move downtown.
But there is a small community of upper-middle-class Catholics living downtown, as well. What if they don’t want any poor people?
Where will the poor go?
Where do people think that poor people, once successfully expelled from a neighborhood, go?
If they can’t find houses, where will they go?
Do they think we’ll disappear?
I talked to the mother of Rose’s little friend Ezra the other day. I hadn’t seen her since last summer when her house caught fire. She had been homeless for about four months, sleeping with her three children at friends’ houses and, for awhile, in her car. Ezra has autism; routine is even more important to him than to normal children. He suffered horribly from losing everything and having to camp out of a car. But his mother could not find a place to live that would take their vouchers, not for months. Now, she was finally in a rental house in the neighborhood where those same middle-class Catholics seem to be trying to pass an initiative to keep people like Ezra from moving in.
Where are they, and everyone else like them, supposed to go?
Will they go back to camping in their cars?
What if the middle-class Catholics pass an “initiative” to crack down on homeless people who sleep in their cars, for “safety” and the improvement of their neighborhoods? What if their cars are confiscated because the parking laws change in order to drive out the homeless?
Will they sleep without shelter? In the alleys, perhaps?
What if the middle-class Catholics pass an initiative to crack down on homeless people loitering in alleys? Where will they go?
Will they all go to jail for loitering?
The middle-class Catholics don’t like that jail either; it borders the river downtown. Nice cities don’t have a jail bordering the river. They have parks and bike paths. If the middle-class Catholics ever get their bike path, what will happen to all the homeless people crowded into jail?
Where will they go? Into the river? We have plenty of suicides on the bridges around here. Is that what the middle-class Catholics from the “nice” part of the hilltop want to happen to Ezra, and to me, and to everyone like us? Thousands of us, into the river, let the Lord save us if He loves us, just don’t let Him send us back to the Catholic neighborhood with the libertarians, the children and the plaster statues?
These people must know the scriptures; they hear them in Mass every day. Some of them even teach them for a living. They could quote the Bible in circles around me. What will they say when the Lord comes back?
“Lord, when did we see You? We kept Your fasts and Your feasts. We obeyed your laws against birth control. We had many children and named them after saints. We took them to daily Mass. We put a plaster statue of Your most holy mother on our lawns. When did we see You?”
“Amen, Amen, I say to you, My mother and I were poor, and you kept us away, so that you would be safe from us.”
I suppose that’s not their train of thought; they must have something else in mind. But honestly. What do they think happens to poor people who can’t find a place to live?
Where do they think we go?
Do they think we disappear?
What will they say when the Lord comes again?
(image via Pixabay)