Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Attack on St. Louis Homeless Foreshadows Things to Come


counterpunch |  New Life is the St. Louis “shelter-of-last-resort” because it provides places to stay for those who cannot get a Continuum of Care bed.  It can do this because it is funded 100% by donations and does not rely on writing grants that specify what type of homeless it will accept.

In April 2017 St. Louis will have an election to replace the outgoing Francis Slay.  Democratic Party Alderperson Lyda Krewson is the favorite of the downtown investors to become the new mayor.  She promises to shut her eyes tightly to the plight of those falling into the chasm of homelessness.  When addressing downtown loft dwellers about New Life in early November, she insisted that the city should shut it down and “put a lock on the place.”

In contrast, Green Party mayoral candidate Johnathan McFarland believes that “New Life must be kept open because it is the only shelter in St. Louis which takes in homeless people in truly desperate situations.  It is obviously needed because so many people come there.”

While Trump and the Republicans are more blatant in their rhetoric, the slick wordsmithing of Democratic Party politicians like Francis Slay and Lyda Krewson have equally brutal effects.  As capitalism sinks into a feeding frenzy to extract profits from every acre of native land and urban real estate, it uses whatever politician it finds most useful.  In St. Louis and Standing Rock, its focus is on those who have the least power to resist.

The crystal ball of homelessness in the US reveals a dark cloud.  US urban patterns are distinct:  Its inner cities have been poverty centers while the more well-to-do populate suburbs.  In most other parts of the world, the poor live in suburbs, far away from the services they need for survival, and the well-off populate the urban core.  But increasing numbers of the financially secure are moving into downtown areas and the pocketbooks of financial investors whisper that it’s time to drive out the poor.

Efforts to remove the impoverished and homeless from downtown areas will continue as surely as will efforts to destroy safety nets and environmental gains of the last century.  Protecting the homeless is a core part of defending social security, medicare, medicaid, public schools, child labor laws, parks and indigenous lands.