Letter to the Editor and Michael Mayo
It’s easy to criticize Fort Lauderdale’s new law that controls the feeding of its homeless in its City.
After all, citing, and maybe even eventually jailing a feisty 90 year old man, a longtime advocate of the weak and downtrodden, for just providing three squares a day seems untenable, almost mean.
But it’s not, let me explain.
Most of the homeless folks that Arnold Abbott feeds are not the homeless that are temporarily without a roof due to a sudden hardship, loss of a job, or serious illness that left them penniless and living on the streets.
No, we, as a community in Broward County, have spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours of personal efforts to provide for those unfortunate, fellow human beings. We built, maintain, and fund programs like the the Homeless Assistance Center (HAC), and other County and City programs that provide temporary housing, job placement and training for those.
The new Fort Lauderdale law, addresses another group of human beings that find themselves homeless and in trouble in our fair City. They are the mentally ill, the chronic drug or alcohol abusers, or the smaller group of adults that simply choose to abandon responsibility and live off the fat of the land.
Arnold Abbott, and maybe you, feel that feeding folks a meal – even to this group of the most needy must be a good thing to do, but in reality IT is the mean thing, or at the very least, the irresponsible thing to do.
If we just feed these unfortunate folks with serious problems, and then send them off to find a bush or bench to sleep, we might go back to our safe home and feel better, but those sad afflicted fellow human being are really no better off for the temporary help.
So let’s support the new laws, and really help. Let’s now find a way to fund programs that deal with our weaker fellow humans problems with drugs, alcohol, and mental instabilities. Let’s find a way to house them, treat them, monitor and mentor them. Let’s decide as a City that living on the streets is not good enough for Fort Lauderdale, let’s start a trend!
Then Arnold Abbotts’ life mission might have a true chance of making a real difference.