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Can We Put an End to Criminalizing the Unhoused?

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

By Theo Henderson

Will we pass the buck again or humanely face the Unhoused crisis head on?

The Unhoused crisis is teetering towards unmanageable levels. There are no corners to sleep in, yet long hours to weep in. For the Unhoused, this is an apt and world-weary metaphor. Looking for empathy is an elusive fickle friend. Deceptive solutions are at hand only to find war upon them.

At present, the city and state have taken the stance of criminalizing the Unhoused community.

For the Unhoused moans of pain comes double, yet the guise of “helping” them sends them to their early grave. We don’t say 5 Unhoused die a day for nothing.

The City Council President Nury Martinez has labeled the Unhoused as undeserving of empathy and humanity. Her belief is that housed poor are busting their butts for their slice of the American dream. Sadly, she is not alone in this mindset, recently Councilmembers Heather Hull and Joe Buscaino presented 41.18 resolution targeting Black and Brown Unhoused communities.

Where have we seen this before? Look no further than 1950. In case you missed it, 1950 was a time of entrenched racism and strong exclusion practices. Groups at that time galvanized against poor Black and Brown communities. Five years later, Emmett Till is murdered and the bus boycott began in Birmingham, Alabama.

We are now living the same stunted policies of yesterday. We have a chance to be on the right side of history. This is our opportunity to dismantle this racist Article 34 on November 8th. Once we vanquish this referendum, we should repeal 41.18, the bicycle ban and other poor solutions against the vulnerable.

In addition, learning from the Unhoused community via the We the Unhoused podcast to make educated decisions instead of moribund ones.

What will you choose? To stay morally stunted and immersed in cruelty or move towards the light of understanding and empathy.

Theo Henderson is a Los Angeles-based advocate for the unhoused community and is the host of the podcast “We The Unhoused.” He has over 8 years of lived experience being Unhoused.

*This article is was originally published on October 5, 2022 in the San Fernando Valley Sun*

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