The move was announced earlier this month, but what exactly is the motivation? It seems that the change is directly connected to the housing crisis in Portland, Oregon. According to NBC contributor Jenna Bush Hager, the shift stems from a lack of space in the downtown area and a sense of compassion on the part of Starbucks employees. But Starbucks employees may not be aware that homeless people often violate store rules and are asked to leave.
Despite the new policy, there are a few things that make this issue worth discussing. Firstly, if Starbucks allows homeless people to use its restrooms, this could have a negative effect on the shopping experience for paying customers. In addition to this, homeless people often use the bathrooms as a place to take a shower, which could be inconvenient for the baristas. Secondly, the homeless population is made up of 20 to 25 percent people suffering from severe mental illness. Therefore, baristas have little to no experience in interacting with the homeless population, especially when they show signs of distress.
Another reason for allowing homeless people to loiter in the company’s stores is to establish a third place in society, after home and work. It is not surprising that Starbucks and McDonald’s have a large homeless population. However, they have strict rules about table parking, but they are not enforced. Most of the homeless are not idiots. The problem is that we don’t know what to do with them.