A man died on Thursday night in a homeless shelter in Madison.

So, I saw a request on Thursday on Feeding the State Street Family’s facebook page. A blind, homeless guy needed help, specifically transportation to get him to an appointment that might eventually lead to housing. He got that help, made it to the appointment but was told to come back the next day. He spent the night in the homeless shelter. In the morning, we heard that someone died overnight in one of the shelters. A call to the coroner revealed that it was him. He had recently been in the hospital for hernia surgery and was released with his medications.

Once again, the “system” has failed someone. No, it’s not the system–it’s us. Of course all sorts of institutions bear responsibility for this: a medical system that releases patients on to the street who can’t take care of themselves; governments that cut funding, social service providers and their employees who are overburdened, under-funded, and demoralized. But the bottom line is, we are responsible for this. A society that refuses to care for those in greatest need, a society that refuses to treat everyone with dignity and provide basic services for the sick, the homeless, the hungry, is a society that is rotten at its core.

As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve begun conversations in Madison about a medical shelter. How many more people will die before that dream becomes a reality?

A man died on Thursday night in a homeless shelter in Madison. He died alone. Who mourns for him? Who mourns for us?

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