The Social Responsibility of Homelessness

My entire life has been spent in the San Francisco Bay Area – and more recently, homelessness has become an all-out epidemic, and it’s shocking.  The shock for me never goes away.  Some mornings, when I am stepping off BART, I can count more than 5 homeless people on the street in less than a minute and the rest of my walk from the Embarcadero BART station down Market Street is horrifying to witness in what is the world’s tech capital.  It’s alarming and it’s unconscionable that this go on for any longer.  When Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and SF native, published an article in The New York Times, entitled, “The Social Responsibility of Business,” you know how bad it’s gotten.  When a scion of business takes a stand for an issue on a platform such as The New York Times, you know that the issue is out of hand.

The problem is that people too often try to rationalize homelessness, perhaps they do so because it is so challenging to process how people are degraded from their own humanity, and so it goes that narratives are wrongly perpetuated that the homeless “did something wrong” to get to where they are.  Furthermore, it is no one’s place to judge anyone’s circumstance, it is quite the opposite, it is a travesty that so many Americans have rationalized the “why” of homelessness rather than looking at themselves and wondering why they have allowed this to happen to their communities.  The issue is complex – it’s weaves together the public and private sectors, but it’s not insurmountable to solve.  Affordable housing and opportunities to assimilate the homeless back into society are all possible.  The first step is acknowledging the inhumanity of the state of homelessness in today’s America. Mr. Benioff, thank you for taking a stand on an issue that needs attention now.

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