The Daily Gamecock

In our opinion: City must take quick action on homelessness

Homelessness has always been a huge problem in Columbia, and it’s one that has only continued to get worse through the years. In the three-part series on homelessness we’ve published in The Daily Gamecock, we’ve brought up a multitude of issues plaguing the homeless in our city, namely the city government’s failure to formulate cohesive goals and follow through on their plans.

For people without basic necessities, a governmental inefficiency can be the difference between life and death. While the city has done great things in the past 10 years, such as opening up Transitions, a shelter that has also helped provide permanent housing to more than 300 people, there’s still a lot more that needs to be done. Homeless people around Columbia struggle to find venues such as health care clinics and public bathroom facilities to fulfill daily needs, and it’s time our city stopped volleying back and forth the question of who will take responsibility for the homeless and come up with a concrete solution.

It’s our responsibility to hold the city accountable for following through on their plans. We understand resources are limited and government funding has been cut back, but we also know that when funds are slashed, the poor suffer the most. That said, we commend the USC students who have been involved in the numerous shelters and food banks around Columbia to assist the homeless, and urge more to do the same and help out where is needed.

But on a more fundamental level, we must do what we can to change our perceptions of the homeless. Rather than viewing them as subhuman or incompetent, we must strive to see them as the normal citizens they are, who have fallen on hard times and are trapped by unfortunate circumstance.

Something as simple as acknowledgment from society can be empowerment for them.