We are animals who prey upon, domesticate, oppress, eat, and abuse other species. We bathe in pools of bacteria, fungi, and viruses shed by their destroyed habitats, and their murdered, boiled, skinned and defeatherd bodies. We understand our fellow beings less than we do our own minds, and thus are confounded when some Pandora—such as a novel virus—is let loose, and conspires to control us.
Although we may fancy ourselves to be a sort of apex predator, who by ingenuity has evolved to lord over vast territories of the planet, it is perhaps ironically fitting that the tiniest of elements may be our ultimate leveler. Viruses are measured in mere nanometers, and are not even considered to be alive in terms we understand. It is these characteristics that have garnered them names such as “the unseen enemy” and “organisms on the edge of life.”
In many ways we are one of the most vulnerable of animals. Having no fur to protect us from the elements, we need more extensive shelter than many other species. Unlike birds, fish or many other primates, we can’t feed ourselves by skimming through the air or water; thriving in rain or sun. We need a way to store and cook our food, and a warm place to sleep and shit. Having lost our individual ability to hunt, gather, farm and garden, we find ourselves dependent on the exchange of mammon for shelter and sustenance. For the majority of homo sapiens on the planet, the ability to secure the thin sheets of paper and chunks of metal required in exchange for food and shelter has come to a crisis point.
On the western coasts of America, in some of the wealthiest areas on the entire planet, thousands of people find themselves without permanent, secure housing. They huddle under tarps and in makeshift tents along all of the major freeways from Los Angeles up the coasts of the Pacific Northwest. Some people have claimed that many of the houseless chose to live the way they do. But in the past decade it has become abundantly clear that the chances of becoming houseless in America is becoming a “new normal” for people from nearly all economic strata. No longer is it the working poor alone who find themselves one paycheck away from losing permanent housing. In cities like Portland, Seattle and San Jose (where a six figure salary is considered “low income”), working people—even those who would have been considered middle class just a few short years ago—are living in RVs, cars, city shelters, makeshift camps, and under freeway overpasses.
And now, with an order to “shelter in place” due to an unseen virus, even those who days ago had jobs in libraries, schools, restaurants, cafes, and bars, find themselves on the edge of a life without shelter.
In the midst of this crisis, California Governor Gary Newsom has secured nearly 400 rooms in two hotels near the Oakland International Airport in which to house people living in nearby encampments. And there is further news that he has requisitioned another 2,400 beds/rooms in which to shelter the houseless during this immediate lockdown. The question remains as to what will happen to these newly sheltered after the fifteen-day “shelter in place” edict is lifted. The hope would be to secure housing for all those being sheltered now during this crisis. But for now, see this bit of good news that proves that where there is a virus….there is a way to alleviate our immediate houseless crisis.
We encourage everyone reading this to contact governor Newsom, and encourage him to make this housing permanent.
You may contact Governor Gavin Newsom by mail/phone at:
Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160
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