Halloween serves as a holiday that has the potential to ameliorate the difficulties the homeless community constantly faces. As a day that hands out treats to strangers, such rituals set an example for what else could be done, and for whom. It is time the public lends a helping hand and how they are already doing so despite the ironic tendency to turn a blind eye.
This past weekend witnessed the first official Halloween since the COVID-19 pandemic, a time of turbulence that has slowly begun to fade away in its influence on everyday life. Costume parties erupted, events grabbed public attention, and children once again scoured neighborhoods for candy as though it were a scavenger hunt.
Many may claim life is now beginning to feel more “normal.” But, of course, that would depend on the perspective. For some, “normal” had never left.
This rings true for the approximate 151,000 unhoused Californians who did not perceive any discernible difference in the holiday’s celebration. According to NPR, the West Coast is facing a devastating increase in homeless individuals, much of it due to the rapid rise in cost for affordable housing. As homeowners increase rent, the upper and middle classes will take what is affordably cheaper, leaving low-income wage earners out on the streets without a place to go.
Since the 1970s, the Golden State has become an oasis of opportunity. However, this increase in appeal to the millions coming in droves has highlighted a lack of infrastructure in the housing market. The demand for homes is great, but the supply is limited, exacerbating conditions that result in children and families spending their evenings on the streets, including Halloween.
Luckily, some organizations and movements have done their part to ensure the unhoused are taken care of. For instance, the San Diego Tribune shines a light on Father Joe’s Village, a shelter that provides unhoused children with costumes to wear and candy to go trick-or-treating for. Additionally, the organization Everyone In LA urged the public not to rely on the holiday as an excuse for opening up their doors to strangers, as this warm-hearted treatment should remain consistent year-round.
The Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH) has also increased awareness surrounding the crisis beyond state lines through the appearance of costumes. By illustrating how dressing as a homeless person is as equally offensive as looking like a member of another race or culture, the coalition works to ensure the unhoused are recognized as a marginalized community.
Halloween’s end does not have to signal a lack of altruism until Thanksgiving Day. Instead, these holidays dedicated to opening one’s doors to another exemplify society’s potential if everyone cared as much for their neighbor as they do themselves.
October’s holiday can pave the way to do more for local communities than we may think. From giving youth a taste of their childhood to ensuring that those experiencing homelessness are treated to a quality meal. Whether it be a home-cooked meal or sustainable housing, the spooky holiday can do much more with treats than exclusively candy.