Don’t blame the homeless

 

I commend Cornelius Hegeman for his excellent letter, in which he asks for “some serious journalism” on why the homeless people in downtown Miami resist opportunities to go to shelters ( Homeless holdouts, June 24, Readers’ Forum).

We keep getting the same stereotypical comments about the chronically homeless who, according to everyone, are naked and defecating in the streets. Aside from the fact that this is untrue, we need to look at why this is happening.

A look at the history of mental health treatment in this country might give us a clue. A few decades ago, we decided to close state psychiatric hospitals where we were “warehousing” chronically mentally ill people. We were going to provide state-of-the-art community mental health centers to treat them.

But financial constraints and NIMBY issues kept this approach from working. There are numerous other issues, such as lack of public washrooms and poor street maintenance that need to be investigated as well.

The Miami Herald historically has done a superb job of uncovering the many layers of public problems in this community and state. Assign an investigative journalist to this important humanitarian problem, and let’s stop blaming the victims.

Isabelle Hill, Miami

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