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First, it is essential to understand how the current crisis concerning homelessness and related matters far predates the current COVID-19 pandemic, where there have been large numbers of persons living unhoused and are, once again, being abandoned to reside on the streets, underneath bridges or in the woods and so on.

This was how it had been well before the pandemic hit our region. It continues to this day and will only get much worse if something real is not done to seriously address these and related matters.

As such, among other dangers encountered by persons living unhoused on a routine basis, these individuals and families remain quite vulnerable to being institutionalized under the powerful authoritarian thumb of the state (read: government, including at the municipal level) and its agencies or departments in its various regressive and most costly forms or otherwise succumbing to grave illness and disability or even resulting in their death.

Either that or local, county, state or federal governments feign concern, however otherwise mostly exercise deliberate indifference, oftentimes citing a lack of funds and resources as being the problem.

Which begs the question, what is one to do?

What is crucial to realize as well as acknowledge is that the situation has been and continues to actually be more about the need for exercising vigorous political will and then making these matters among the most urgent (read: highest) priorities to be seriously addressed in a meaningful manner.

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This, however, takes proper leadership — at all levels.

If this was in fact done and leadership seriously undertaken, those whose job and responsibility it is to do so would be aggressively seeking out and obtaining the necessary funding, resources and support required to bring about a meaningful and sufficient resolution to help meet what has been and continues to be an ever growing crisis for many individuals and families who are most in need living within local communities across the region, state and nation. Instead, lame excuses and even lamer rationales are oftentimes offered and cited for their failure to act in a deliberate, compassionate and thoughtful manner.

It must be kept in mind about how there is a much higher cost, including financially and also in human terms, associated with doing nothing.

Bringing about actual change to what has sadly become accepted as being the status quo would also require no longer placing blame on unhoused individuals and families for their circumstances and treating them as if they are the problem; rather, people who are living unhoused should be regarded and treated as being part of the solution and, if they are able and willing to do so, invited to be the primary member of a team working with them in order to help them become permanently housed.

It might not be easy or simple to achieve, but it remains doable all the same.

Morgan W. Brown previously lived unhoused for many years of his life, including 12 years without permanent housing during the last go around. He has been permanently housed in central Vermont for nearly 12 years. He formerly served on the Montpelier Homelessness Task Force and, when possible, continues to be engaged in activism and advocacy concerning these and related matters in various ways. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.