Access to affordable and safe housing is arguably the most important factor in determining the levels of justice, fairness, and integration within a city. Therefore it should be of no great surprise that large swaths of ostensibly progressive residents are incredibly uncomfortable when their “right” to gentrified urban spaces is threatened by the victims of neoliberalism:
No one, including the few (mostly homeless, formerly homeless, or homeless advocates) who spoke in favor of the encampment, called the opposition “classist”–that, along with “racist,” is the third rail of Seattle’s white progressive politics–but whatever possible conclusion is there when a group of mostly upper-middle-class, mostly white, mostly homeowning residents gang up on a group of disenfranchised people sleeping on park benches or in their cars and say that they, as a class, are shiftless alcoholics and drug addicts (as if addiction was a choice) who contribute nothing to society and instigate crime and the loss of property values?
How else can we describe parents who say they don’t want their children exposed to a less-fortunate class of people, whose basic humanity is suspect because they haven’t pulled themselves up by their bootstraps into the middle-class existence so many of those wealthy homeowners received as their birthright? And what are we supposed to make of people who literally say they can’t be anti-homeless because they once took an individual homeless person into their home, just like your racist friend who says he can’t be racist because he gets along just great with the black people who serve him?
I’ve noticed many of the same themes here in Long Beach from residents and their pusillanimous representatives in city government. Something about residents associations seems to attract white liberals that are fine advocating for policies that are analogous to ethnic cleansing, all while wearing Obama t-shirts.