Last Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California used his State of the State address to highlight the homelessness crisis.
“Let’s call it what it is: a disgrace, that the richest state in the richest nation — succeeding across so many sectors — is failing to properly house, heal and humanely treat so many of its own people,” Newsom said. “No amount of progress can camouflage the most pernicious crisis in our midst, the ultimate manifestation of poverty: homelessness.”
Whether we are talking about the state of California, which would be the fifth-largest economy in the world if it were a country–or Santa Fe, New Mexico–homelessness is a complex social problem. It is a community problem, and it will require the entire community, working together, to find a solution.
The first step in that process is for everyone in the community to understand that people experiencing homelessness are just like you and me. There is no “them” and “us.” Homelessness is not a person, it is a condition. As I like to remind people, the line is thin. There but for the grace of God go I. The trauma that most often precedes homelessness is real, and it is indiscriminate. The housing crisis is real, in California, and in Santa Fe.