Letter to the Editor: Homelessness in Norfolk
Words and Images courtesy of Mr. Confetti.
As Covid struck, I realized that for a lot of people in the city, there was no quarantine. They still had their jobs, they still had their rent, and they still had to feed their families. For a lot of people, the quarantine only existed if their employer said it did. How often do our employers care about us, over the money they make? Other states handled quarantines in differing ways, for better or worse, but at the end of the day, we live in Norfolk. The state has eviction moratoriums apparently. I still know people that got evicted, and it felt like a lottery. Was I lucky this time? For sure. What about next time?
I landed in my job through dumb luck and a shitty degree. My license to work didn’t get me into an actual career, too many people who would do it for less, and so I ended up in a call center. I easily could have been in a different job. I felt had the dice landed differently, I could have been the one under pressure without relief, pay, or food. And then I randomly drove by 19th while getting groceries. I knew that could be me. I reached out to a few friends, bought some basic things, and took them out to 19th. We asked what else was needed, what items sucked, what was helpful, and what could be better. We took notes, we adjusted, and we later started getting specific needs from person to person. To be very clear we’d never done this before, we just kept showing up and seeking to learn. And honestly, that’s all it takes, the willingness to answer need. Anyone struggling already has the solution to get them help, they just need someone willing to listen, and willing to lend a hand. So if city hall ain’t helping, are we? Penned, Mr. Confetti
Authors note: As of writing this, 19th was destroyed, cleared by the city. A small group of tents set in MLK park is gone too. The city has made it very clear they won’t allow any tents to be set up. Promises of room, tents and warm food were given. We were told no one would be turned away. The greyhound station is out of tents, low on water, and overcapacity. We have firsthand witnessed people turned away, even those promised spots. Those from 19th have a mat till the 28th. Married couples aren’t allowed to share a tent, everyone is woken up at 6:30am, and if you aren't in by 7pm, even with special permission, it’s hard to get back in. The homeless camp is set to end on Oct 1st. Promises of a solution have been given, but we have all seen how much the city of Norfolk honors a promise. The city has destroyed what little shelter our most vulnerable population has, and then failed to follow through with their alternate solution. The cynic in me would point out that festival season just started, seems rather convenient timing. If anyone would like to donate, they can use the Cashapp below. This is a group unaffiliated with the author who has been known to assist with those currently experiencing homeless in VA: $Keepvawarm Editor's Note: We received this letter all the way back on May 26, 2021. Ironically, due to our being an all volunteer organization, and our editor needing to concentrate on their paid work to be able to pay the rent themselves, we were not able to publish this in a timely manner. We apologize for that. Thanks to Mr. Confetti for his patience, and we appreciate the opportunity to bring this important matter to the community, even though we are later on the uptake than we would have preferred.