As an advocate for Homeless Voices for Justice, I commend the Sun Journal for publishing Rachel Lowe’s guest column (March 4).
I have seen a pattern of upcoming new policies and legislation that only demoralize people who live in homelessness and poverty. Terms such as “fraud,” “abuse” and “welfare cheats” are too frequently used in the new system of helping those who really do need help. They stigmatize and put down people who live in poverty.
We don’t have to look far to see this in action.
A recent bill in Augusta would require people to show photo identification to buy food using their EBT cards. To a mother buying formula for her baby, how more demoralizing can it get?
A Skowhegan homeless shelter has shelter residents’ labor for the city to pay off the shelter’s outstanding sewer bill. The increase of homeless people using the bathroom and showering has raised the bill and shelter residents are now paying their bathroom dues with labor. How more demoralizing can anyone get?
People who live in poverty deserve to be treated like any other Mainer — with respect. When society puts people who are poor into categories such as “cheats” and “ditch diggers,” it is not giving a hand up, it is giving a throw down.
It is time we all take a hard look at how we, as a state and people, are casting stones at our friends and neighbors who happen to live in homelessness and poverty.
Steve Huston, Portland