In an editorial, Hoboken resident Joshua Sotomayor-Einstein gives his point of view on why the city’s battle against homelessness will not be advanced by rebranding it.
The battle against homelessness will not be advanced by rebranding them “people experiencing homelessness” or “the unhoused.”
Rather, in addition to the important outreach and rehabilitation efforts being done by the amazing people of the Hoboken Shelter and Street Life Ministry (among others), the issue must be tackled holistically. To do so one must look at both the macro and the micro.
On the larger scale, Hoboken is a rich urban suburb of NYC with multiple mass transit connections acting as a magnet for beggars and panhandlers, as well as criminals and the mentally unstable.
Moreover, as housing prices soar in the region, those scraping by to put a roof over their head will continue to get pushed out of their homes by the increasing cost of living.
This is of course, not to mention the influx of tens of thousands of illegal aliens crowding out the local needy from the city’s resources.
On the smaller scale, and local level, thousands of residents have seen vagrants (some housed, others homeless) in parks late at night getting high or drunk, sleeping rough, or in tents.
Even more people have seen benches on the waterfront and along Washington Street occupied for weeks at a time by people often engaged in slow motion public suicide via drugs and alcohol.
Every human life, no matter one’s age and no matter how many mistakes one has made, has the potential for value. Undoubtedly, Hoboken should double down on outreach to help the homeless.
But outreach cannot be allowed to become a de facto permission slip for public drinking, drugs, and camping. Instead, what is needed as much as outreach is enforcement of existing laws.
Residents do not want Hoboken to become the next San Francisco, Portland, or Seattle.
How many times must Hoboken hear the story of residents who were followed home by someone banging on their door or refusing to depart from their stoop while doing drugs or drinking, only for the police to fail to do anything?
Must the public use of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs, have to devolve into sidewalks littered with needles and feces (for a child or dog to step on) in order for City Hall to act?
People engaged in public intoxication (whether booze, weed, or any other drug) in public parks and in the streets, must be arrested.
Parks must be shut down for public camping. The mentally unstable, or intoxicated loon, screaming at the top of their lungs at random people in the middle of the night should be carted off to the hospital for treatment for their own safety.
Until these common sense solutions, which once kept American cities safe, are part of the public program combating homelessness and other issues, not only will we see even more people committing slow motion public suicide on the streets, but the homeless problem will increase.