There is a buzzword floating around Asheville, NC. The word is criminalization and it’s used much by the homeless and “friends” of the homeless. Most of them don’t’ know what it means, it just sounds good.
The reality of the situation here in Asheville is that there is NO criminalization of the homeless. Homeless people are NOT illegal; it’s the behaviors they often participate in that is illegal.
Panhandling, open container (alcohol), public drunkenness and trespassing are a few of the laws that Asheville City Council have enacted in connection with their assigned duties to make the town safe and pleasant to live in. Not unlike other cities throughout the country.
So why the increasing use of the term “criminalization of the homeless” in this bucolic town in The Smokey Mountains in western North Carolina?
The leaders of the groups that work on behalf of the homeless are basically lazy. Instead of doing some real work and putting their shoulder to the wheel to fight for genuine systemic change, they spout about something that doesn’t exist.
Behavior’s can be criminalized, try robbing the bank and you’ll see. Economic status? No, not yet; but the country may be heading that direction. But “criminalization of the homeless”? No.
In Asheville the homeless are subject to the same laws as anyone else.
Maybe it’s time for the leader’s to get off their butts and start doing some real work on behalf of the homeless instead of pontificating about policy, writing and re-writing bylaws and work to make some substantive change.
Asheville’s homeless need it and deserve it.