The worst about us is how we treat the least among us
(You can donate to Shanesha Taylor here)
Here are a few headlines from the last three days.
On Wednesday night, Locke slept in one of 68 beds available at one of two winter homeless shelters in Concord. When those shelters closed for the season yesterday morning, she joined a homeless population that doesn’t have a bed, or money to rent an apartment, or even a sanctioned place to pitch a tent.
A D.C. Superior Court judge says city officials must stop housing poor families on cots in recreation centers on freezing nights, saying the communal sleeping quarters appear to deny the families their right to privacy and security under city law.
Jan. 27, the Rockford Fire Department responded to an emergency medical call at the Apostolic Pentecostals of Rockford Church, 840 Mattis Ave., and became aware the church building was being used as an overnight homeless shelter.
After six weeks of discussion with city officials, when the church had failed to complete the required steps to comply with the SUP, the city requested they cease operations. At this time, the church has discontinued the shelter as they work to conform to city ordinances.
Suburban and rural homeless populations are often invisible to local residents and lawmakers, experts say, so social programs are scarce and funding isn’t a priority. New Beginnings, where Gilpatrick lives, is one of the few shelters in Maine that offer youth a place to stay 24 hours a day, as opposed to just a bed at night. And it’s the only one that offers recreational and educational programs. The average young person stays here for three weeks; Gilpatrick’s last stay was three months.
“Some people come in here and they’re basically a stray dog,” the 18-year-old told America Tonight. “They come in long enough to get their wounds healed and then they leave.”
All of those are tragic, but this takes horrible to a whole different level:
A homeless Scottsdale, AZ woman was arrested and her children placed in protective custody after she left them in her car to go to a job interview. Think Progress reported that Shanesha Taylor, 35, left her two-year-old and six-month-old in the car with the windows cracked for 45 minutes because she didn’t have anywhere else to leave them.
When Taylor arrived back at the vehicle, she was arrested by police. Her children were handed over to Child Protective Services.
“She was upset,” said Scottsdale Police Sargent Mark Clark to WFSB. “This is a sad situation all around. She said she was homeless, she needed the job. Obviously, not getting the job. So it’s just a sad situation.”
Taylor was charged with two counts of felony child abuse.
There is a lot that is wrong here.
Forget for a moment that, yes, it is very dangerous to leave a toddler and a baby in a closed car in the Arizona heat even if it is only late March. Instead imagine this woman with her two children facing the prospect of living out of her car in the Arizona summer. Imagine trying to sit through – and focus on – an interview for a job that you must have because your kids are sitting out there and their future depends on you to – let’s not sugarcoat it – get that job.
Then you come back out to your car, only to be arrested, jailed, have your kids taken away from you, your hope for that job snatched away, and now you face the possibility of prison time and losing custody of your kids.
The picture of Shanesha Taylor with tears running down her face is what that looks like. It’s the look of having lost everything, of having hit rock bottom.
It’s the face of a world without hope.
As Think Progress noted, Arizona has cut 40 percent ($81 million) of its total child care budget, yet the state spends slightly more than $1 billion maintaining its prison system. We want people to ‘pull themselves up by their bootstraps’, but we don’t provide them with the basic needs that they require to just survive before they can thrive: food, shelter, support.
People like Shanesha Taylor.
A fundraiser has been set up at youcaring.com for her, and I would encourage you to visit and contribute if you can.
Additionally, Prison Culture has some advice in how you can help her case by applying public pressure.
It’s not a handout, it’s a helping hand.