Sun | May 16, 2021

Letter of the Day |Treat homelessness like a hospital emergency

Published:Thursday | January 28, 2021 | 12:25 AM


Homelessness must now be immediately treated as a hospital emergency, and the care of the indigent would best be served under this ‘tent’. Hospitals already have the facilities to feed patients and provide bed spaces. There is adequate security and policing. A special unit at each hospital to document the levels of need, and then to place persons in other halfway houses, is critical.

Everyone needs to chip in, the churches and those who manage housing accommodations, including the hotel industry. All households and other accommodation models can offer their own options in the ‘care mix’. In essence, homelessness needs to be destigmatised. Perhaps special arrangements could be made by all organisations to have on their buildings, a socially distanced cot area supported by showers and washrooms, and amenities for quick laundry and a meal. In some cases, persons only need a night or two, or even day care, to move to safer places with a friend or relative.

The need for social distancing and preventing the spread of COVID-19 must be a catalyst to help those fleeing various levels of violence. They could require supporting medication in most instances, physical care for wounds, as well as long-term protection and anonymity from aggressors. Full-time, paid employment and occupation therapy are useful cures.

Discarded by Family

Mental institutions worldwide have recorded that many persons who are patients have been discarded by family and friends. Strangely, their property is confiscated by ‘well-meaning, concerned citizens’ (bearing very close resemblance), who cart them to hospital because of their reportedly ‘bad behaviour’.

COVID-19 is proving to be more of a blessing than a bane. The pandemic is truly unmasking the very best by retarding the forces of evil shackled by curfews. Even though murders continue, ‘business as usual’, our societies are awakened to change the sins of our systems.

Curbing the spread of diseases requires the generous use of scouring agents, bleach, blue soap as less expensive cleansers. Closing the lids of toilets is a new imperative. But to stop the stench, our hearts, however, must be opened with abundant interventions and not a few band-aids to extend humanity and human care to the less fortunate. Many homeless on our streets are active witness to crimes. Their physical presence at the front of stores could have deterred criminal acts over the years and stymied extortionists.

However, these ‘Lazaruses’ will not have any water to cool the thirst of our indifference in hell. Is it too hard to see human suffering, but walk away? Does everyone needs a roof over their head? What exactly has caused so many to fall between the cracks? The fissures always existed. Therefore, we can hardly blame the active knifers when our ‘blindness’ has been a slow but sure poison, leading to the death of our fellow men.

Sad times.