“Have you heard about the homeless problem?”
With those simple words, a 19-year-old named Nicole drops some hard-won knowledge about what it really means to live without shelter in Sacramento–and how the rest of us just don’t get it.
The two-and-a-half-minute video featuring Nicole was recorded outside of Wind Youth Service’s drop-in center in Midtown, which has drawn NIMBY-style griping from neighboring businesses and individuals who are shocked–SHOCKED!–by the sight of homeless kids in their midst.
Shahera Hyatt, director of the California Homeless Youth Project, shot the video on her phone in a location, she says, where people call the police “when they see folks like Nicole outside.”
That is, young homeless folks.
Nicole originally planned to deliver her speech to the Sacramento City Council. But then the council moved public comment to the end of meetings. Nicole couldn’t wait that long as a matter of safety: she had to make it back to her spot along the American River before night fell.
Nicole’s video is peppered with similar gems about how little things have huge impacts when you’re without shelter. (You’ll never think of a $1 water bottle the same way again.) Fresh, funny and wise, she proves that Sacramento doesn’t have a homeless problem. It has a compassion problem.
Have you heard of the homeless problem? Some would like you to think it’s me. But it’s not. It’s a society and institution and governmental body that restricts access to proper housing and then demonizes those who are detrimented.
My name is Nicole. I have a housing issue. And I am affected by the homeless problem. Please do not confuse this the next time you talk about me, my friends or the issues that affect us.