From the Left



Mr. President, Please Kill the Homeless Woman Who Lives Outside My Apartment

Ted Rall on

Dear Mr. President,

Won't you please kill the homeless woman who lives on a bench on the median strip of the street near my apartment building?

She doesn't bother me. As far as I know, she doesn't bother anyone else either. The woman who lives in the middle of the street is nice. I like her. Last week, as I was waiting for the traffic signal to change, she beckoned softly from under her pile of soiled blankets, asking for change, and I gave her a $10 bill. I'm not usually that nice. She's that sympathetic.

I pitied her. I've watched her decline since spring. As six months dragged by, this probably 50-something-year-old woman has deteriorated from "how did someone so normal become homeless?" to talking to herself to severely sunburned to "this person will die this winter."

It was in the high 30s last night and it will only get colder, and it is not a question of when or how she'll die -- the answers are a) this winter and b) hypothermia -- but whether the usual circle of votive candles and $5 bouquets of flowers will be placed by her bench or on the southwest corner of the intersection near the other one.

They say that dying of cold isn't that bad. That you feel warm, cozy, disoriented.


I don't believe them. Whatever the physical sensations, dying from cold 100 feet from a couple hundred housing units so overheated that many New Yorkers keep their windows open all year long has got to be one hell of a lonesome suck of depressing. The nice woman who lives in the median deserves better than drawing her final breath while staring at the glow of a laptop screen through a frosted window pane the opposite side of which, under different circumstances, she would live inside.

So, Mr. President, won't you please kill this lady? You'd be doing her a favor.

I know this isn't your fault, sir. In a different world, you could allocate the tens of thousands of dollars needed to provide my outside neighbor with emergency shelter, transitional housing, permanent rehousing, substance abuse and/or mental health treatment. In reality, that money is tied up. The government's budget is stretched thin. You have a massive deficit to think about.

Plus, you have big expenses. For example, you're asking Congress for $106 billion "in funding for Israel, Ukraine, countering China in the Indo-Pacific, and operations on the southern U.S. border." These are, obviously, all very important needs. Before she succumbed to schizophrenia, the woman who is going to die in my New York neighborhood wouldn't dream of suggesting that her desire to live indoors ought to come ahead of countering China in the Indo-Pacific.


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