The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Student Voices: APEC and the Bay Area Homelessness Crisis

By: Staff Writers Tushara Devapatla, Maryam Naseer, Priyanka Shah & Vidyuth Sridhar

Overall, how would you describe the MSJ Community’s attitude towards and understanding of the current homeless crisis?

“I think people are aware of [the homelessness crisis], but if I’m a 14 to 17 year old, I’m probably not going to feel like I have much power to actually help. It takes people that have the resources, and a 14 to 17 year old kid probably doesn’t necessarily have anything other than ideas to be able to help something like that. ” – Matthew Vierk, Civics Teacher 

“MSJ is pretty desensitized, as people often make jokes regarding homelessness even though this is a prevalent problem in the Bay Area. Though, we have taken some great initiatives (L2 Community’s Food Drive) towards fighting homelessness, and I’m sure we have the capacity to be more cognizant and compassionate.” –– Anushree Marimuthu, 12

What do you think should be done in order to help fix the homelessness issue as of now?

“I believe that issues like homelessness are not the government’s problem; government’s not set up to solve homelessness. The evidence is, how are they doing right now? Since they’ve been aware of it, the problem has only gotten worse. I think that leaders should make it beneficial for citizens to address the issues. We already have things like tax breaks for people who donate to charities, but what if there was something that encouraged citizens to house people that don’t have a place to live, or for people to regularly feed [the homeless]?” – Matthew Vierk, Civics Teacher

“I think that not a lot of people from our school community are not too aware of the homelessness crisis and maybe do not have enough info on the topic. One way, though, to help this issue is to educate people through programs talking about service in the Fremont community.” – Zoha Ahmed, 12

In hindsight of the recent APEC conference, what do you think the MSJ Community needs to change to help fix the homelessness issue?

“I’m aware of the Conference and the impact on homeless people to the degree it was covered. I think local governments take a lot of actions that we learn about in hindsight. I think city officials do what they can to look good, and then ask forgiveness after the fact. Or they claim the “greater good” was served, without explaining how. I think most people, myself and the MSJ community included, have a sanitized view of what homelessness really is. We cannot fix homelessness until we decide to spend the money necessary to address the complex issues involved, beginning with maternal health, education and mental health issues. As long as it is “out of sight” it won’t be solved, moving people from one encampment to another doesn’t fix an issue. It just relocates the problem.” – Bill Jeffers, AP Human Geography Teacher

“I think in general many of us are apathetic towards the homelessness issue and we tend to dismiss it as someone else’s problem. I obviously don’t have any kind of statistics on this, but looking around at small families living in unnecessarily enormous houses while people are sleeping in tents or living in parking lots, it seems like many people have the ability to pool in to provide homeless people with a decent roof over their heads.” – Rushan Ahsan, 9


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