Tonight 36 people lined up too early for the Glendale Winter Homeless Shelter. They were less than a half hour early, but that was too early for the people in the surrounding businesses so they called the city and complained.
I don’t know how many called, and I don’t know how they worded their complaint.
There are homeless people outside and I don’t want to look at them?
There are homeless people outside and I’m afraid that their homelessness will rub off on me?
If I am forced to share the sidewalk with them, even briefly, my carefully constructed life of safety and security will instantly dissolve?
There are homeless people outside and the sight of them will drive away my clients?
You promised that if we let you have a shelter near our business we would never have to actually see homeless people in real life?
Whatever the caller(s) said worked so well that the person in charge of such things for the city insisted that the early birds be barred from entering the shelter tonight. No dinner. No bathroom. No cot. The city’s position was that spending the night on the street would teach the early arrivers never to be early again.
Never mind why they’d lined up early. After spending the day being shooed out of the parks if they fell asleep, shooed out of coffee houses for monopolizing tables, out of stores for lingering, out of doorways for looking untidy, who wouldn’t be eager to settle somewhere in peace?
But that pales in importance compared to the complaints of the callers.
The people who run the shelter said the punishment outweighed the crime. They begged for mercy for the 36 but were denied. The Book Ladies, (me an my daughter) thought the city was being gratuitously cruel; another case of the bullies tormenting the powerless. Even the Glendale police thought the plan was stupid and mean.
None the less 36 women and men were turned away tonight to wander the streets, while 36 dinners went uneaten and 36 cots stand empty.
Ashamed of my town.