Let me be clear on the terminology: there is a marked difference between the "homeless" (those without a residence, but who may have the ability to remain sheltered with family, friends, or a charitable shelter or transitional housing) and the "unsheltered" (those living on the street or in empty fields).
Let's take a quick look at how each political party views the Unsheltered:
Republicans: When it comes to the Homeless, out of sight is out of mind.
Democrats: We will help you stay in your home, but only if you already have one.
My View: The Unsheltered are still people and they deserve respect, not condemnation.
Republicans on the Unsheltered
Republican views on the unsheltered vary, but there are a few common themes and approaches within the party. In general, Republican lawmakers often assert that the current approach to homelessness is ineffective. They advocate for alternative strategies to address the crisis, focusing on practical solutions. Many of these include (but are not limited to) housing security, mental health and substance abuse recovery, self-sufficiency, and safety. Republicans recognize the importance of affordable housing and support funding to preserve rental homes in rural communities, and prioritize connecting homeless veterans with permanent, affordable housing.
"Sometimes pushing people around, sometimes pulling out the rug, sometimes pushing all the buttons, sometimes pulling out the plug."
Democrats on the Unsheltered
Democrats are committed to ending homelessness in America. Their principal efforts focus on supporting a housing-first approach, believing that having a stable and safe place to live is essential for addressing other challenges faced by individuals, such as mental illness, substance use disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. They propose providing Section 8 housing support for every eligible family and enacting protections to prevent landlords from discriminating against voucher recipients. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they supported state and local measures to freeze rent increases, evictions, utility shutoffs, and late fees to prevent families from becoming homeless.
"Sometimes building ivory towers, sometimes knocking castles down, sometimes building you a stairway [to] lock you underground."
[Sidebar]: My personal issue with the themes and approaches espoused by the Old Parties is that many of the unsheltered I have personally encountered do not suffer from either mental health or substance abuse issues. While Republicans claim to work toward preserving homes in rural communities, the unsheltered in urban communities are consistently harassed and vilified for conditions over which they had little to no control.
My View on the Unsheltered
Here's a bold statement that I have yet to hear anyone dispute: The Unsheltered are the ONLY societal group for whom laws are specifically written to persecute rather than protect.
"It's the power and the glory, it's a war in paradise. A Cinderella story on the tumble of the dice."
While being unsheltered in Denton County is not as large an issue as it seems to be in Dallas or Tarrant Counties, it is still an issue that I believe deserves our attention. I am currently affiliated with individuals and groups (but not specific organizations) who do work to help the unsheltered as much as possible, and I was doing this long before I moved into Denton County in 2021. Many of the unsheltered to whom I have personally spoken, or whose stories I have overheard, describe their situations in terms that relate more directly to post-traumatic stress (PTS) than to any other causal event. The list is as long and saddening as it is widely varied.
"Big money got a heavy hand, big money take control. Big money got a mean streak. Big money got no soul."
I was unsheltered myself once, a long time ago. Despite the passing of time, the uncertainty and foreboding that I felt then is not something that I would wish on anyone. But that period of my life seems altogether pleasant after listening to some of the personal stories of Denton County's unsheltered citizens. Make no mistake in my intentions: despite their existing social standing and (in many cases) lack of authoritative identification, the vast majority of the unsheltered are still United States citizens and deserve to be represented in the state legislature. Even those unsheltered who are not citizens still deserve the respect and consideration that all people deserve. This is not a quid pro quo (Latin: something for something) situation for me, so despite the larger possibility that I will never receive their votes, I still want to help be their voice in the Texas House.
Disclaimer: It's important to remember that views on the unsheltered vary wildly, even within the three political parties, and while these situations are nuanced, these are, in my opinion, subjects to which the political parties provide sincerity merely in word but not in deed.