Thinking of heading down to the ocean for a few days? You might want to think of how the resort you pick treats people who are experiencing homelessness. Reports point to the fact that some tourist destinations in the country are less than welcoming to the folks on the street.
Actually, being without a home looks a lot like committing a crime in some jurisdictions.
Some resorts are indeed very eager to have their streets presented a certain way for our enjoyment and people experiencing homelessness are not part of the plan. A number of laws have been passed in these cities and towns that restrict people’s freedom on the street in a way that seem really questionable, maybe, even, unconstitutional.
This is how it goes… A tourist, like you and me, sitting on a bench gazing at the ocean is not going to get into trouble. We can stay all afternoon, watch the sun set all the way down and nobody is going to ask us anything. But a person who appears to be living on the street will systematically be asked to move on and could even be arrested.
The problem gets worse when you think that, in some jurisdictions, it is even an offense to sit or stand anywhere outside. But, again, there are the two ways to “stand.” Standing is fine if you have reservations somewhere for the night but it’s a crime if you don’t.
Getting caught in such a quagmire can result in an accumulation of trespassing charges that stay on a person’s record and become really cumbersome when somebody is rebuilding his or her life and tries to get a job or rent an apartment.
Some rental offices simply will not rent to you if you have anything on your record. And, let’s face it, “trespassing” conjures much worse images in people’s minds than standing or sitting by the ocean.
So what can be done? Well, I don’t want to make you work on your vacation but, if you see something that bothers you, you might want to mention it to a restaurant or hotel owner. You might also write it down it when you leave feedback on your vacation package or hotel stay. It might go something like:
” I would feel so much better about spending my vacation in ‘Beachtown’ if the community there treated people experiencing homelessness in a more compassionate way.”
By: Jean-Michel Giraud