Patricia A. Nugent: Rush to Judgment

In this article on Vox Populi, Patricia A. Nugent talks about homelessness, rushes to judgment and blaming the victim.

Vox Populi

She shuffles up to me on the sidewalk, paper cup in hand. She speaks so softly, I can’t understand what she’s saying. I ask her to repeat it.

“I’m homeless. Can you spare some change?”

This is an unusual scene on the streets of Saratoga Springs, New York, a refined city known for thoroughbred horse racing, mineral springs, and the arts. While there are homeless people, and a shelter to prove it, panhandlers aren’t typically encountered on the streets.

My arms are full, as I’m delivering my books to a local gallery. “I’ll be right back,” I promise. “I’ll help you then.” She knits her brow; she’s heard that before.

When I return ten minutes later, she’s nowhere in sight. I walk to the fair-trade coffee shop and order an egg sandwich and large chai latte with almond milk. As I wait for my carry-out, I spot her sitting at…

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