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Joel John Roberts Headshot

End Homelessness: Occupy Wall Street by Vacating Main Street

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WALL STREET
AP

I drove by the park next to the City Hall in my home town one early evening when I saw a scattering of tents and a group of people camped out on public property. It looked like a new encampment filled with homeless Americans who typically squat on land as a last resort effort to survive.

But these campers were not homeless. They were part of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement that is sweeping this country and throughout cities around the world.

This grassroots effort that started in New York City and has now spread to 82 countries, is protesting the inequities of wealth distribution and taxes. In other words, "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer." With an economy that is barely on life support, with more middle-class Americans worrying about their jobs and keeping their homes, it is not surprising to see a middle-class uprising, of sorts.

Some analysts are calling this occupying movement a "primal scream", a desperate shout-out to the public that the economic status quo is not working.

In the world of homeless assistance, homeless advocates would traditionally call this "advocacy" or "public consciousness."

I like using the term primal scream in advocating the end of homelessness, because it instills a sense of desperation in an economic system that is sadly spewing out homelessness in cities around the world.

I wish this occupying movement would also embrace the goal of ending homelessness. With their make-shift tent cities and desperate primal screams for change, they already symbolize a homeless population of Americans who use dilapidated tents and vehicles as their permanent residencies.

Homelessness in America is the end result of an economic and political system that is so broken that people are living like animals on our streets.

I just don't hear primal screams from those who are homeless and those who desperately work to help house them. Homeless advocates have candlelight vigils, prayer meetings, one-hour rallies, and walk-a-thons to raise the awareness that homelessness exists. But no taking over Wall Street, and no angry demonstrations. No primal screams of desperation.

Occupying the streets of power, from Wall Street in New York to centers of power in Asia and Europe, is getting the world's attention. But this occupying movement is really not successful until we can help every homeless American vacate Main Street.

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