A while back, Collin had an idea. The Motel 6 at South County closed. Collin wanted to go on Kickstarter and try to raise funds to buy the old motel and turn it into transitional housing for homeless families. I was proud of him for wanting to do something to make a difference–but almost everyone I told responded with, “It’ll never happen.”
Before Collin could even post his proposal at Kickstarter, the old motel was torn down.
Why didn’t anyone believe it could work? Because it’s no secret that area residents aren’t exactly thrilled at the idea of homeless people living among them. Everyone thinks something should be done, but nobody wants it in their backyard. There’s currently a battle being waged in a residential area not far from the former Motel 6 site. Residents have discovered that a low-income seniors residence is being built there by HUD, and they’re angry. They don’t want “those people” in their neighborhood.
Is it that they think all low-income and/or homeless people are drug addicts and/or mentally ill–or is it just that they don’t want homeless people nearby? Do they think homelessness is a contagious disease? Or do they expect to have people knocking at their door, begging? They say they’re afraid, concerned for the safety of their children. Right. That, I suspect, is how they convince themselves that this plan has to be stopped.
Sometimes it’s easier to turn the proverbial blind eye and act as if the problem doesn’t exist. Out of sight, out of mind. Hearing about the troubles of people who are struggling makes many–too many–uncomfortable. If they’re face-to-face with it, they can’t ignore it.
“It’s not my problem.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that. If you’re struggling, nobody wants to hear about it. They want you to smile, act like everything’s fine, and keep your problems to yourself. If you’re living in a cardboard box, they don’t want to hear about it as they’re going home to their warm, cozy homes, their big-screen TVs and financial security.
Now, the Ponderosa restaurant next to the former motel site is vacant. We had another idea: raise the money to start a pay-what-you-can-afford restaurant. Donate the profits to a food bank or shelter.
I wonder…would that project be deemed acceptable by the area residents?