There’s No Room For The Homeless At The Super Bowl
January 4, 2017 (Fault Lines) — If you are outdoors without a home, there are undoubtedly a lot of things you need to be worrying about: Locating shelter, food, bathing opportunities and protecting your very few possessions, are the basics. (Yes, this author knows stuff.) It is also helpful to know if your city is next on the list to host the NFL Super Bowl game. If it is, they are coming for you because human rights and human kindness have no place in a city that’s trying to “clean-up” before the big game.
Barely a month before kickoff, Houston is acting swiftly to stop any help from reaching the homeless. Reports locally are that the cops stopped a group of homeless advocates from handing out food, then brought in a waste management truck and forced everyone to throw away recently donated food, blankets and coats. Local activist Shere Dore was quoted as saying:
I’m highly disturbed because lots of these items were not only given to the homeless by the community, but some of the blankets and jackets were literally purchased by homeless advocates like myself. HPD and the City of Houston are taking our cash and throwing it in the trash. At what point will our police stand up and say that this is wrong to do to people?
As this story gains traction and more episodes come to light, city officials possibly including the mayor are going to deny that the homeless are being rousted to make Houston more appealing. But we’ve seen this before and it’s unlikely Houston will be any more imaginative than Mayor Ed Lee in San Francisco who stated:
This is the same tired bovine residue trotted out time and time again by people who are attempting to avoid looking bad for protecting the interests of big money. Department of public works employees were instructed to tell homeless people in San Francisco who were being displaced by Super Bowl City that it was because of the wet weather.
That’s right; the wet weather. Four miles from here is far better for you than the wet weather right here. It’s for your safety.
You can’t give food to the homeless because it might have been improperly cooked by an improperly trained individual and therefore a safety hazard. This, of course, could never happen via the fast food the homeless eat when they have a couple of bucks, or the food they find in the trash.
In Houston, three months before the game, the U.S. 59 underpass in Midtown was cleared with a suddenness that left tents, bicycles and other possessions strewn about as if a tornado had come through. An angry former underpass resident named Trampus Edwards exclaimed:
How are you going to tell me you don’t care where I go, just don’t be here? They want to make it seem like we don’t have any problems in our city, everything is milk and honey, but it’s not like that.
Marilyn Brown, CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless, a non-profit advocacy agency, denies the removal is related to the big game:
It has never been anything other than maybe the Super Bowl is a bit of a milestone for us.
However, her organization has quite a few big money donors who have a stake in keeping Houston looking clean and neat on Super Bowl Sunday. It is in her best interest to stick with the city script and claim it’s for “safety.”
Listening to city officials and well compensated CEO’s of non-profits will not inform you of what they’re up to. If you have ever worked in the so-called non-profit sector, you will know that there are two or three people at the top of the food chain who are profiting.
Watching the cops and public works employees, and listening to reports from trench activists like Shere Dore, or simply going down and seeing for yourself, is the way to really find out what’s going on in your community when the big game comes to town.
Let’s not forget that many homeless people were once homeowners and taxpayers. They still pay sales tax when they buy something. They helped pay taxes that built roads and football stadiums. Local businesses, communities and certainly the NFL all profit greatly from these things. Let’s also not forget that with the next economic downturn or major banking catastrophe, many more of us could be joining the ranks of tent city and underpass dwellers.