Between The Lines

Duke City Citizen Solves Homelessness: ‘Put Them In Shipping Containers’

Photo by Kristin Hillery

Helping solves everything.

Interventionism worked out wonderfully for Native Americans, whose culture is mostly relegated to movies and history books. It has been a boon to New Mexico education, which ranks second to last in the nation despite more ideas, studies, programs, resources, and taxpayer money year after year.

And it will be the cure-all for homelessness and the drug addiction, panhandling, and crime that plague Albuquerque.

“How about if we provide some kind of modular facilities, ‘bomb-proof’ like the Department of Transportation makes the rest-area facilities along freeways — maybe in recycled shipping containers — that house a couple of toilets, a utility sink big enough to wash clothes by hand, potable water faucets, a shower, an electric hot water tank in a very secure enclosure, electricity outlets, trash (and) recycling bins and a safe, secure place to dispose of needles?”

 — Albuquerque Resident, Letter to the Editor, Albuquerque Journal, May 16, 2021

Helping is the modern approach to every problem. If diligent, sober, employed people would only give up some of their fortune, then those who don’t work would get a leg up. 

It seems the only part of the solution our Duke City do-gooder fails to explain is where the city would ship the containers once they’re full and the streets were clean.

KIDDING.

Reading between the lines, you can tell that even the author knows all this extra help won’t work. If the theory is that homeless people would become upstanding citizens if you provide everything they need to live, then why would the city have to secure the water heater? Why would you need a safe place for heroin needles? Why would the facilities have to be “bomb-proof”?

Albuquerque’s Citizen of the Year wouldn’t get his way even if he did believe his own suggestion. No true bleeding heart could stomach stuffing the dregs of society into shipping containers, even if they can sleep and shit inside.

But they will come up with something. With a little effort, they’ll find more to do, more aid to offer, and more resources to spend other people’s money on. It won’t work, but that’s not the point. The point is to help, to intervene, to do for other what they could do for themselves if that was the only option.

What the city won’t consider doing is nothing. Because if you let people lift themselves up, there’s nobody to pat on the back but them.


“Between The Lines” is a series featuring fictional headlines of real events.

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