Riders pass a homeless encampment along National Avenue
Hey D.J., How do hipsters feel about the homeless? — Mr. Stinko de Mayo Himself
Like almost everyone, hipsters feel bad for the homeless. But, in keeping with the sentiments of Question 1 (above), I will cop to some less-than-pleasant attitudes. The hipster approach to homelessness is, rather unfortunately, NIMBY. Sympathy for the homeless extends right up to the point where a naked drunk wanders into and passes out in your backyard, setting the dogs to uncontrollable barking at 4 a.m. As much as we hipsters feel truly moved about the plight of the homeless in America, our primary concern, which the majority of Americans share, is that our neighborhoods remain free of those same homeless.
That’s pretty unfortunate, but I think it springs from the condition that homelessness is a problem of mind-boggling overdetermination with no good solution. There is no one thing that leads inexorably to a massive homeless population, and in that way it is a problem unlike, say, corporate greed or plastic pollution. You don’t like corporate greed? Patronize small businesses. You don’t like plastic? Buy less plastic. It’s easy. Straightforward. Hipsters like problems that can be, if not solved, at least severed from one’s own sense of personal responsibility by simple behavioral changes.
You want to “do something” about homelessness? Good luck.
The basic dialogue surrounding homelessness and the end thereof fails to offer any solutions, even unreasonable ones, and so it falls inevitably upon deaf ears, hipster or otherwise. We all agree that it’s a terrible failure of society’s duty to care for its weakest, but nobody apparently knows what to do about it. Our collective best efforts at this point amount to little more than moving homeless populations around, sometimes by force, when they become too burdensome on XYZ community. Till some clever hipster or hipsterlike individual finds a sub-trillion-dollar solution, we’ve got nothing, and that sucks.