Today, as we were leaving a store, one of the workers yelled stop and a man nearly ran us over running out of the store. He had stolen something to eat or drink. It was clear that this man was one of the many homeless people living in the park nearby, constantly begging on the street.
To my mind, this is a huge problem here in Boston. I’m not clear if all of the people who beg are truly homeless but I do know that the commons near Harvard always seems to have a group of disheveled people with backpacks in the morning, packing or unpacking. The same people with the same signs seem to be there week after week. The homeless mom begging for money is always by the bank. The man just trying to get bus fare home is always in the same place. It’s not just Harvard Square. You can find this almost anywhere there is a major T stop or tourist attraction.
Some of these individuals are clearly mentally ill. Others clearly are runaways. I don’t know and can’t begin to guess the stories of the others. Did they lose their job and had no family to fall back on? Disability?
I don’t know if homelessness is this a problem of this scale in Western Europe. But we should be ashamed that it is here.