Helping Humans is Bad for Business?

This article is in response to Helen Anne Travis’ “Helping the Homeless isn’t helping downtown Tampa businesses on Franklin Street” published recently in the Tampa Bay Times,

See the original article here:

This isn’t the first time that those who share food with the food insecure in Tampa have been villainized and it won’t be the last.

Rather than including a single houseless person in the Tampa community into the conversation about homelessness in Tampa, the author of this article continues to marginalize their voices.

Financial interests disguised as a public health issue is a farce. If those who presented an argument in this article are concerned for the “safety” of the food being shared, surely they would be concerned about the danger of people’s lives on the street and the issues that are causing houselessness in our community – like lack of opportunity and the criminalization of poverty which introduces complex and difficult dynamics in regaining financial independence and healing.

In order to have a conversation with proper context, we should address issues of safety, space limitations and the high costs of staying in places like the Salvation Army, as well as the failure of our city, including the TPD, to effectively and humanely treat those who are struggling in our community.

Addressing suffering should take precedence over the financial concerns of businesses in Tampa. Instead of pointing the finger at the vulnerable and those assisting them, why not improve the quality of life of your neighbors by helping us install port-a-potties and/or additional trash cans?

Helping the homeless is obviously not a priority of our city. One need only visit Curtis Hixon, where an expensive ice skating rink has gone up where many houseless folks pass the day. What is truly unhelpful to downtown Tampa isn’t those addressing suffering through compassionate action, but those who are indifferent to it.

– Dezeray Lyn (Tampa Food Not Bombs)