Dear Property Owners & Managers,
I got your letter in the mail. “No cause termination.” It says I have two months to find shelter in an atmosphere where there are virtually no vacancies, where the prices continue to rise out of reach and where I need to come up with first, last, deposit and prove I make three times as much as rent.
I don’t know if I can do it. I am back fearing, wondering and clearer than ever about this issue I’ve been covering as a journalist.
Homelessness is a greed problem.
I know it is the capitalist mantra and your law given rights to raise rents and property prices to”market standards.” I understand that these standards are made up as a result of scarcity and taken advantage of via greed. What I’m wondering if you understand is that when you kick people out of their residence in the bitter cold with a less than 1 percent vacancy rate–you are potentially killing that person.
People trying to survive outside in 20 degree overnight temperatures when it is wet and the wind is blowing– absolutely, positively die. We lose two to three every winter where I live in Oregon. Multiply this by every community in every region around the world and that is the tip of the peninsula of pain your greed is causing.
Now meet your Kryptonite. It’s called kindness. Understanding. Refusal to believe the lie that victims cause their own pain or that poverty is related to doing something wrong.
I can do everything exactly right and be homeless. If you have a rich daddy and he buys my building, gentrifies it as a hobby and tosses me out for a few hundred bucks he doesn’t need–that’s not because I did something wrong.
You, landlord are not smarter, did not do better on college exams, did not raise kinder children and did not work harder. You got lucky and I didn’t. Now you’ll continue living well and I could die in the cold. I wish that was dramatic but it’s not. This is what happens to people, people we know who look like us, they die due to greed.
So let’s be clear about the problem. It’s not the homeless, it’s not me whom you are making homeless. It’s you. Just you.
That’s true. It doesn’t shelter me or anyone homeless or facing homelessness but I won’t be ashamed or pretend to be the problem. Because while you’ve been flitting about picking new paint for what was my home I’ve been sheltering homeless people–bunches of them some nights without your knowledge and consent because I figure decency doesn’t need permission. I’ve had them stacked in sleeping bags on couches and floors. I’d do it again and feel nothing but goodness.
Goodness is the counter to greed and so is truth. Walking around the reality of what is happening to people is not tact, it’s a fools folly. I’ve been tracking the numbers and stories of homeless people for months now. (www.Understanding-homelessness.com) and let me tell you–those numbers are growing by double digit percentages in city after city, town after town. Tens of thousands of people can’t all be crazy addicts.
Ironic that I’ve been writing about homelessness and now I am without a home. Or is it actually irony? Maybe it’s that this is happening to everyone.
Me. And you.
Your money shelters some realities but it cannot hide you from the consequences of this issue: people have nowhere to go. When you throw them out without cause you force them to throw away their belongings–precious photos and books, things their grandmothers gave them, things they have held for years and now can no longer hold.
Because of your decision I am circling my own things, the chairs I found and fixed and painted so my little grand baby could color at the table I scrounged, the first lamp I bought, the little cabinet my generous friend brought over smiling and also missing as she considered her own future changes and the bed I sleep in tossing and turning where I used to dream.
Because, you see, homelessness is personal. It was personal before it began happening to me and it will be personal after that.
Hurting people is personal.
Hurting people is not business or market conditions or profit margins. It is mothers and children and grandmothers on street corners with signs, it is proud working men reduced to waiting in line for a hot meal that other people with just a slight bit more provide.
Hurting people is not incidental. It is deliberate. What you are doing is causing harm, death and the loss of future generations.
The solution is simple: buck the trend and be kind. Don’t raise the rent when you’re doing okay. Price your rentals based on what is reasonable not what you can get. If the house you want to buy is so expensive it forces you to charge an unreasonable rent–don’t buy it. Let the greedy person selling it sit on it long enough to awaken to a kinder thought.
So dear landlords who are kind and reasonable–we need you! Hang in there with your understanding and goodness. Give me your name and picture so I can throw a parade or a party in your name because you deserve it.
The rest of you-I hope you wake up before you take the whole lot of us down with you.
I’m not counting on it.