ThinkProgress has a disturbing report that the city of Washington, DC made sure that the city’s growing homeless population was out of sight during the two days of the presidential inauguration, when hundreds of thousands of people will be in town and the TV cameras would be on:
This weekend, as many as 800,000 people will show up in downtown Washington D.C. to watch President Obama’s second inauguration. What they won’t see, however, is D.C.’s homeless population.
That’s because on Thursday, the city issued a special order requiring homeless shelters, which normally close during the day, to remain open on Sunday and Monday. As a result, many of the city’s homeless people will be indoors on inauguration weekend, out of public sight.
In and of itself, giving homeless people a refuge during the day is laudable. Doing so solely on the two days when world’s eyes will be on D.C. raises questions about whether the city is simply trying to hide its homeless residents…
It’s hard to criticize the District for devoting more resources to helping homeless people get shelter this weekend. But the question is are they willing to be as generous when the cameras are off and the city isn’t the center of attention? Last year’s city budget, which cut homeless services by $7 million even as the District enjoyed a $140 million surplus, might be an indication.
It certainly is.