New Hampshire is a small state: according to US census 2017 estimates, it has roughly 1,350,000 people living in it, which puts it 43rd in the nation in terms of population (US States 2). As of 2017, 55% of the world’s population lives in cities, and as cities have grown, so have the numbers of homeless people across the globe (Chamie 1). According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, New Hampshire has the 4th least amount of homeless people in it, in terms of the total people experiencing homelessness at any given time, according to 2017 data, which is the most recent (State Data 1). But the problem with this information, is that since 2014, we’ve known for a fact that those who provide services for the homeless have deliberately undercounted and misrepresented the number of actual homeless people in America (Corinth 2).
While its difficult to get an accurate count of the homeless, nationwide homelessness has supposedly fell 100 percent from 2011-2014, a trend which probably hasn’t changed much in four years, given that there hasn’t been some sweeping overhaul in the methods and approaches to the way we deal with the problem of homelessness in America. In Concord New Hampshire we don’t give a flying fuck about you if you’re homeless. We like to kick homeless people out of their shantytowns much the same way you kick a can down the road: move it, and hope it goes away, but in the back of your mind you know that’s never going to happen with the nonsolutions you’re providing, you’re really just hoping it’ll be somebody else’s problem. New Hampshire isn’t the only one responsible for inhumane treatment of the homeless, and to their credit, the Concord City Council repealed the anti panhandling ordinance in September 2017 (City Council 1). The ordinance was for a fine of up to $500 for anyone caught panhandling, which seems like a ridiculous way to solve the problem of systemic poverty (Review 2). But that’s how we deal with homeless people and the poor in this country: we say “pick yourself up by your bootstraps”, and then we hamstring them, making it as hard as we possibly can for a person of limited means to advance or help themselves in any way.
Last week I wrote a short story entitled “No Camping”, which tries to outline the way we look at the homeless. In the story, I try to get inside the mind of someone who’s got an inhumane opinion of the homeless, and to show the gaps in our ideology. I ask the question: where do the homeless people serve as a mechanism for state cohesion, and serve as the glue that keeps the system running? Do we truly care about the homeless when we donate to them, or when we give to panhandlers, or is it sort of just a ‘guilt-tax’ to appease our sense of responsibility when even a stable middle class existence is sometimes seen as a privilege and not a right for all in 2018.
Andrews, Caitlin. “Concord’s city council halts enforcement of panhandling ordinance”. concordmonitor.com, Concord Monitor, 16 Sept. 2017, http://www.concordmonitor.com/Concord-City-Council-votes-to-stop-enforcement-of-panhandling-ordinance-for-now-12469466.
Andrews, Caitlin. “Concord to review panhandling ordinance after Manchester ruling”. concordmonitor.com, Concord Monitor, 11 Sept. 2017, http://www.concordmonitor.com/Federal-court-rules-panhandling-ordinance-unconstitutional-12368494.
Chamie, Joseph. “As Cities Grow Worldwide, So Do the Numbers of Homeless”. yaleglobal.yale.edu, The Macmillan Center, 13 July 2017, https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/cities-grow-worldwide-so-do-numbers-homeless.
Corinth, Kevin C. “Street homelessness: A disappearing act?”. aei.org, American Enterprise Institute, Jun. 2015, https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Street-homelessness.pdf.
“State Data and Contacts Map”. usich.gov, United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, 2017, https://www.usich.gov/tools-for-action/map/#fn=1500&fn=2900&fn=6100&fn=10100&fn=14100&all_types=true&year=2017&state=NH.
“Us states – Ranked by Population 2018”. worldpopulationreview.com, US Census 2017, World Population Review, 2018, http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/.