Homelessness has been compounded by violence

Photo courtesy of Hejaar from Pexels.

As housing prices climb and more people find themselves on the streets, fear and anxiety grip America. However, these emotions, deeply resonating with citizens who lack shelter and support, are not felt by our nation as a whole. Rather, it is fear of these “dirty” individuals and street encampments that clenches jaws and straightens the spines of most Americans.

While laws and city policies continue to push houseless people to the margins, this growing underclass suffers even more danger. Over the past few days, a lone gunman terrorized unsheltered people, murdering two and injuring three others in New York and Washington, D.C.

How could one man cause such coldhearted bloodshed? Nationwide media certainly emphasized similar questions. Publications and news stations clamored to identify the suspect. Furthermore, New York’s Mayor Eric Adams applied city resources to the cause, along with his demand “to bring a cold blooded killer to justice.”

With such vehement condemnation of the gunman, our leaders again quickly turn to incarceration and punishment as the remedy. Yet, no one stops to question the heightened vulnerability of the victims. Instead, all attention turns to the individual perpetrator. In doing so, our country neglects to criticize the true perpetrators. Why do a whole set of people live on the streets in the first place? The invisibility of those experiencing homelessness is heartbreaking. Solely through violent victimization and fear does the media bring this underclass into light.

If we as fellow Americans revolutionize our suspicion and fearfulness into compassion, then future victimizations may be prevented. Contrary to Mayor Adams’ words, only a reassessment of the wealth disparity in our country achieves true justice.

Isaac Katcher is a junior sociology and criminology major.