I’m not sure where this comes from. That is, the notion that somehow the homeless are dangerous. Yes, many of them seem “different” (mental illness) and many of them smell and some of them beg for money. But where is there any evidence they are dangerous?
I’m not picking on ThirtyWhat. Almost everyone I’ve been with while walking past the homeless gathered in or near the downtown Lincoln Library has expressed some fear of these folks. I’ve even heard completely irrational fears coming from members of the Springfield City Council.
Now, before you start in on me being naïve or somehow unfamiliar with the public behavior of the homeless, let me say that for three years I lived very near Chicago’s State Street Mission. I encountered dozens of homeless every day. Never was I attacked or threatened. Hit up for money? Yeah, all the time. Was I ever annoyed by being continually approached? Yes, but I was never fearful.
Here in Springfield, I think you would be hard pressed to find many acts of violence perpetrated on the rest of the population by homeless people. Can you find ANY examples of violence by a homeless person here or somewhere else? Sure, and I can do the same for doctors, lawyers, police, computer programmers and housewives.
Having said all that, I agree that the issue needs addressing by offering more help to those who need it. And maybe Blevins is right, we just don’t have the will as a city to cure the illness rather than just treat the symptoms. But fearing the homeless isn’t going to lead to positive solutions.