When trying to figure out how to help homeless folks in Clark County, Ann Donnelly sought the advice of Michael Lynch, a man famous for having rich parents. Yet as Lynch quickly demonstrates, growing up in a mansion makes it hard to be an expert on poverty.
The book Lynch cites as a catch-all solution to homelessness, “San Fransicko,” was panned by reviewer Wes Enzinna, who points out that the author “perhaps … fails to grasp the contours of the crisis because, over the course of nearly 300 pages of text, he doesn’t interview a single currently homeless person.” That fits. Lynch, a man with no lived experience of poverty, promotes a book about solving homelessness that ignores the people experiencing it.
Local leaders shouldn’t pay heed to Lynch’s faux expertise. A more empathetic voice to listen to is Jaken Garcia, who wrote in The (Salem) Statesman Journal, “We tell ourselves what we want to hear, the lie that everyone who is homeless chooses to be so, and so we soothe our consciences with simplistic, generalized clichés, all while many of our city’s poorest fall deeper into misery, addiction and suicide.”