The barber of Broad Street

I call this guy the Barber of Broad Street, giving free haircuts to the homeless on the center island, conveniently  just across from the Wawa that is a magnet for homeless people.

Haircuts for homeless. (Photo: Stu Bykofsky)

He asks for no proof that anyone who wants a cut is actually homeless. 

Philadelphia has relatively low homelessness, about 1,000+,   compared with 22,000 in L.A. and 76,000 in New York. A universal truth is the majority of them have addiction or mental issues. This is why attacking the problem is so difficult. 

But not impossible.

From where I sit, anyone who is able and willing to work, but who can’t find work, deserves help. That help can come in the form of financial support, retraining, education — even shelter and a “make work” job (like street cleaning, tree-trimming, fixing public structures) until a “real” job becomes available.

If the person is impaired by drugs, alcohol or mental problems, they should be offered a choice: treatment or incarceration (assuming their issue, such as drug use, is a violation of law). 

Some people may fall between the cracks. No solution is perfect.

The choice of treatment is expensive, but allowing them to live on the streets has costs, too. It destroys communities, and results in untreated problems that eventually lead to expensive medical treatments.

There will be some people, no matter the inducements, who will turn their backs and walk away. 

Just like some people will not accept a free haircut.

6 thoughts on “The barber of Broad Street”

  1. from the movie, “Dave”.
    “If you’ve ever seen the look on somebody’s face the day they finally get a job, I’ve had some experience with this, they look like they could fly. And it’s not about the paycheck, it’s about respect, it’s about looking in the mirror and knowing that you’ve done something valuable with your day.”

  2. Bully for the Barber of Broad Street. There are too few people out their with that kind of a constitution. He truly is doing his daily mitzvah, even if he doesn’t look at it that way.

    You’ve brought up another good subject – one that most everyone (not involved) would like to see as best swept under the rug, or made invisible, etc. To quote, “…it just takes too much money to take care of the problem.” As you’ve noted above – not doing anything actually costs more in the long run. This problem has nothing to do with the current run of socialism, and at best is ignored by those in both parties. There is no easy solution to the problem, but your comments are a good start.

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