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Thread: Homeless people with substance abuse problems.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Homeless people with substance abuse problems.

    There is a stereotypical perception of a homeless person who is either drunk or on drugs that is common, at least everyplace I have ever lived. I know that this is not always the case, but where I live now, it seems to be true. We live on a short 3 block side street which has some of the lowest traffic counts of most of the east/ west streets in my neighborhood because it is only 3 blocks long. However, it seems to be a major runway for homeless people walking from a nearby liquor store back into the core of the city.

    Most of the problems that they cause are minor in nature and not too much of an issue. However, recently we have found quite a bit more litter, including liquor bottles and wrappers, in our yard, had two situations of people urinating in a sheltered area of my front yard, and even had a small package stolen off our front porch. We are fortunate that someone was kind enough to call and say they found it in the parking lot of the liquor storeÖ opened. I know it was not me because it has been 2 years since I have been to that store. So far this summer, we have had several instances of people being so drunk that they pass out on the steps of the vacant church across the street.

    Do you have issues with homeless people where you live? Are they just asking for money or are they causing other issues as well? What do you do about it? What can a homeowner do about it?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Homelessness is a complex issue with multiple root causes and resulting behaviors that drive choices. Underlying mental issues, drug/alcohol addiction, or both are chief contributors of homelessness. So are a lack of education or works skills and criminal backgrounds.

    There is not much you can do to deter people walking up and down your street as it is a public right of way. You could fence your yard and post no trespassing signs to deter unwelcome people from entering onto your property. You can call the police when someone trespasses on your property or dump/litter on it.

    I guess because I have always worked in very urban cities that have large homeless populations that I am more or less immune to them and for the most part ignore them. I used to oversee a homeless shelter on an interim basis and many were in there because of the aforementioned reasons, some I could help, others I could not. Many had addiction or mental health issues, most untreated due to lack of access to consistent care.

    Most will ask for money, by and large it fuels the addiction and nothing else so I rarely give them anything. If you try giving a homeless person around here food they will tell you to f*ck off. You are better off donating cash to the local residential homeless shelter.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  3. #3
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I have a lot of compassion for the homeless and we can have a pretty big presence in my neighborhood as it is located between many services and the overpasses under which some sleep. So, we have a daily movement of people to and from, depending on the time of day. No, not everyone is homeless because of substance abuse or mental illness issues. But plenty are and its their challenges in dealing with society at large that can make some an actual nuisance.

    I definitely feel for your situation, Mískis. Despite my compassion, it does happen that people Ė any kind of people Ė can become a PIA. I used to live across from a public park and had to call the cops on some domestic disturbances and drunken shouting matches before. When these situations also involve a homeless person, I can feel additionally bad - kicking a person while they are down, as it were. But trash in your yard, stuff taken off your porch - thatís not cool regardless of who is doing it or the reasons. I think you are justified in your frustration.

    I recommend both calling the local police for your area (not as an emergency call, but as a report of ongoing events) and maybe attending or sending a letter to your neighborhood association about it. In my area, the local police Command (thatís what they call your local patrol area here) attend regular monthly association meetings to get info on whatís going on in the Ďhood. They base the next monthís activities, patrols, etc. in part on this community feedback. They find it very helpful for people to come tell them what is up in the area and what they should be looking out for. They started doing this about 7 years ago and since then, a number of drug houses and other trouble properties have been shutdown, all because the locals gave them enough info to watch these places to adequately respond. What I would expect from them is to step up patrols in your area during key areas to keep people moving along and to send the message that they are keeping an eye on things there (so, no stealing crap off peoples' porches!)

    I have also called the 311 number here on people who are EXTREMELY inebriated a few times. Not because I am trying to get them in trouble, but a) I was worried about the health of one guy who had collapsed on the sidewalk and couldnít get up, and b) another guy I was afraid might freeze as it was going down to 15 degrees and he was barely reactive to me, sitting in a neighborís bushes.

    Our police, from my experiences, are really pretty good with the homeless (and also the fire department Ė they are often called for health-related things like potential freezing and the like). They receive special training, are generally compassionate, and even have special protocols for dealing with veterans (who may have PTSD). My wife, as a photographer, went on two ride-alongs with a friend who is a bike cop here. He spent most of his days rousing homeless folks from the parks, vacant lots, and other places they are not supposed to be (or not be at certain hours in the case of the parks).
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Many of them are mentally ill. we can either publicly fund mental institutions and homesless shelters and drug counseling, or we can let them live on the streets and cause problems. We use to publicaly fund programs that resulted in a lot less of the behavior that is irritating you mskis, but then it was called teh evil socialism and the nanny state and this is the result.
    Here is a good paper discussing what happened in the 80's. http://www.sociology.org/content/vol003.004/thomas.html
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

  5. #5
    I live two blocks from the city's largest homeless shelter. Once in a while, a homeless person will sit on a bench in my development's inner courtyard (the courtyard is open to the public). There is a lot of panhandling in the area, people sleeping on sidewalks and according to the local paper, a fair amount of prostitution and drug trafficking associated with the homeless in the area. Our buildings entries are very secure, so we don't feel threatened inside.

    As for walking around outside, we just put up with it. Many are ill, and things just happen. It's part of the price of living in the city. They were here first, before the condos in the neighborhood as well.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I had some homeless issues at my previous address. I don't think there is much you can do but remain vigilant. Not every homeless person is on drugs or are boozers. Many of them have deep psychological problems and you need to give them a wide berth. I have also found that most street beggars are just scammers, but there is a percentage of those who are not.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  7. #7
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Call the police if they are doing something wrong. If you live in a neighborhood close to an urban core which provides social services, you better learn to deal with the homeless. They aren't going away. They've always been around.

    I think it's easier to befriend them. That way they feel worse about littering, etc.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I have no problem with them walking around. Heck, I don't even mind if they sleep in the parks, woods, or other private property. What bothers me is when they take actions that are either illegal or result in me having to make repairs to my property or clean up empty liquor bottles from my front yard. Our biggest issue is the attraction to what was a nice family grocery store that spiraled into a liquor store that seems to cater mostly to homeless people. If the business changed ownership, and the new owners cared, then they many of the issues would not occur here.

    As for the 1980's, I agree that it was a mistake to close down the mental institutions. It is one of those necessary things like a military and prisons. However I also think it is a mistake for anyone to give money to these homeless people unless they earn it legally. I have volunteered at the mission and the soup kitchen several times as part of my church and I think that the one run by my church does a great job. They have a rule, if you appear to be under the influence of anything, you don't get in. There is a collection of missions in close proximity to that church and some of them are more open about their policies. The local news did a report on homeless people and the shanty towns that have shown up in the surrounding area. One guy who was not from the area actually came out and said that the reason he is here is because locals are so willing to give money and food to them. I agree that we need to be compassionate, but we also need to make sure that we are not enabling these homeless to stay that way.

    As for my property, I moved one of our security cameras into the windows facing the front yard. Each day when something shows up, I will go back see who did it, clip out the video and send it to the police department. I am also surprised with my neighborhood crime prevention coordinator. She might as well as said put out a plate of cookies for them. I am going to contact the police department today to find out the limits of what I can do legally.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  9. #9
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I have no problem with them walking around. Heck, I don't even mind if they sleep in the parks, woods, or other private property. What bothers me is when they take actions that are either illegal or result in me having to make repairs to my property or clean up empty liquor bottles from my front yard. Our biggest issue is the attraction to what was a nice family grocery store that spiraled into a liquor store that seems to cater mostly to homeless people. If the business changed ownership, and the new owners cared, then they many of the issues would not occur here.

    As for the 1980's, I agree that it was a mistake to close down the mental institutions. It is one of those necessary things like a military and prisons. However I also think it is a mistake for anyone to give money to these homeless people unless they earn it legally. I have volunteered at the mission and the soup kitchen several times as part of my church and I think that the one run by my church does a great job. They have a rule, if you appear to be under the influence of anything, you don't get in. There is a collection of missions in close proximity to that church and some of them are more open about their policies. The local news did a report on homeless people and the shanty towns that have shown up in the surrounding area. One guy who was not from the area actually came out and said that the reason he is here is because locals are so willing to give money and food to them. I agree that we need to be compassionate, but we also need to make sure that we are not enabling these homeless to stay that way.

    As for my property, I moved one of our security cameras into the windows facing the front yard. Each day when something shows up, I will go back see who did it, clip out the video and send it to the police department. I am also surprised with my neighborhood crime prevention coordinator. She might as well as said put out a plate of cookies for them. I am going to contact the police department today to find out the limits of what I can do legally.
    As far as the liquor store is concerned you and the neighbors can keep the pressure on them with the community police if it is a nexus for nuisance behavior and perhaps trying to engage the business owner about the spillover issue. Best advice is to call the police every time someone trespasses on your property or damages it, video surveillance helps but so does deterring such incidents as well-put up a sign saying no trespassing, smile you are on camera, motion activated lighting/sprinklers, put up a fence, etc.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    The county where I live, along with many no-profit agencies, provides a surprisingly wide and deep range of social services for low-income and homeless people. However, some choose not to avail themselves of those programs, because their participation may come with conditions, such as detox or refraining from drug and alcohol use. For those who refuse to give up their vices, there's The Jungle, a tent city hidden in a forested area near railroad tracks that cross through a semi-industrial area. The Jungle was supposedly established as a hobo camp decades ago.



    The homeless are generally tolerated by area residents. It's not like cities in California where they're everywhere; the harsh winter climate of Upstate New York keeps their number low. Many are embraced as "characters" downtown; Josiah (a former Park Scholar whose use of psychedelic drugs triggered schizophrenia), the Magic Guy, and others. There's very little begging, although there's the usual "Vietnam Vets" in their 40s, and the occasional "will work for food" sign; an otherwise extremely rare sight in Central/Western New York.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    The county where I live, along with many no-profit agencies, provides a surprisingly wide and deep range of social services for low-income and homeless people. However, some choose not to avail themselves of those programs, because their participation may come with conditions, such as detox or refraining from drug and alcohol use. For those who refuse to give up their vices, there's The Jungle, a tent city hidden in a forested area near railroad tracks that cross through a semi-industrial area. The Jungle was supposedly established as a hobo camp decades ago.
    Good homeless shelters have a lot of rules, they need to so they can have order. Vast majority of them will not admit someone under the influence. The one I ran drug tested people upon application for admission to the shelter and if staff suspected someone of being high or drunk when they came back in the evening they were also tested. If it was positive, no admission or you couldn't stay that night in the shelter. Some people just didn't like the house rules or living with 40 other people and would rather sleep on the streets. A good shelter provides case management and access to services such as medical and mental health care, addiction counseling, working with the community corrections department for probation/parole issues, etc. There are very few of these kinds of shelters and most just offer a hot and a cot. Resolving homelessness takes much more than the 8 week maximum time frame that most shelters offer to their clients as well. I removed that max out date from the shelter that I operated and replaced it with an adequate progress made on a client's individual development plan.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I regularly find a lot of malt liqour and beer cans and bottles on my lawn and in my hedge. Either I have an abundance of homeless alcohol and drug abusers in my neighborhood, or alcohol and drug abusers are across the socio-economic board.

    Back in the 80s we as a society kicked the poor and mentally ill out of the health care system and into the streets. These people have a lot of problems and often no medications. Is it unreasonable to think that given a mentally ill person cannot afford our nation's excessively expensive prescription drugs that said person might try to find an alternative solution at the local convenience store or drug dealer? I think not.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjel View post
    As far as the liquor store is concerned you and the neighbors can keep the pressure on them with the community police if it is a nexus for nuisance behavior and perhaps trying to engage the business owner about the spillover issue. Best advice is to call the police every time someone trespasses on your property or damages it, video surveillance helps but so does deterring such incidents as well-put up a sign saying no trespassing, smile you are on camera, motion activated lighting/sprinklers, put up a fence, etc.
    Working with the business owners is where it gets difficult. They have not been cooperative at all in terms of limiting the outside impacts. They even said that they could not continue to be in business unless they sell liquor to the homeless population. When you want into the store, they only use 1/2 the space and the shelves themselves are only 1/2 full and many of the products have been there so long that they have dust on them. The neighborhood association has contacted the police and apparently the 'grocery' store is still within the required food-liquor- lottery tickets to maintain the current lottery and liquor licences.

    Last year, I caught a guy picking tomatoes out of my garden. I felt bad for the guy so I told him that he can keep what he already picked,but he needs to ask before he takes anymore. However, later that day I saw him selling the tomatoes to other people in the park across the street from the liquor store. I have sense picked up a motion detection sprinkler head and moved the entire garden to a more visible location.

    It was worse however. When we moved in, we had to kick one homeless person off our property several times as he was living under our porch. The house had been vacant for over 2 1/2 years. Then back in 2001, a homeless person knocked over a candle that resulted in the original carriage house burning to the ground. I hate to be a NIMBY, but I don't want homeless people in my back yard or anywhere else on my property.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  14. #14
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    It was worse however. When we moved in, we had to kick one homeless person off our property several times as he was living under our porch. The house had been vacant for over 2 1/2 years. Then back in 2001, a homeless person knocked over a candle that resulted in the original carriage house burning to the ground. I hate to be a NIMBY, but I don't want homeless people in my back yard or anywhere else on my property.
    Well, from the way you describe it, the issue isnít really that these folks are homeless, but that they are trespassing on your property and taking your things. Thatís illegal regardless of your home status. I think you are justified in not wanting those things to happen. I wouldnít either.

    Again, I would contact the police, explain the situation and see if they canít step up patrols. Or get this info to you neighborhood association. From the police perspective, they canít come and help address the issue if they donít know its happening.

    Personally I donít think cameras are going to do anything. Especially if people are encroaching on your property inebriated and at night. They wonít even see it. And if you do get a picture, what are you going to do with it? Its unlikely to be a slam dunk as far as identification. To prosecute anyone, you really have to capture them committing a crime, not just walking onto your property (which is illegal but doesnít prove they are also a thief). I say this all from working somewhere that had security cams. We got hit a few times and even had (blurry, grainy, hard to identify) pics. But it didnít do any good. It was difficult to positively identify the perpetrator and the police werenít even interested in having it as it was not very useful in the prosecution process (didnít help that the date/time stamp they had was also not correct!)
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Glad this guy doesn't live in my neighborhood.

    http://crimeblog.dallasnews.com/2012...n-county.html/
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ofos View post
    Glad this guy doesn't live in my neighborhood.

    http://crimeblog.dallasnews.com/2012...n-county.html/
    Still celebrating the super bowl? I just shake my head when I read stories like this; if you can take time to take the car keys out of your pants pocket, why not go ahead and put on the pants?

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    MA, being the compassionate liberal state that it is, probably spends more on social services for the homeless, drug/alcohol-addicted, and mentally ill than most other states. A lot of the funding goes to non-profit sector service providers in local communities which operate homeless shelters, drug/alcohol rehab facilities, "wet" shelters, counseling centers, halfway houses, sex-offender housing, and the like.

    But this is only half of the story: you would not believe how vigorously the more affluent towns around Boston fight the service providers as they seek to locate in these communities. The mission of these agencies is constitutionally-protected, yet these are wealthy towns that have no qualms about spending millions of dollars in a legal fight to keep them out. So guess where they go? Where is there is less community resistance, cheaper land/buildings, and generally an established presence of service providers? You guessed it- the poor communities.

    As much as I believe these services are needed, they are becoming way too over-concentrated in the same struggling towns/cities of this state. Try revitalizing your downtown when half its population consists of either addicts or recovering addicts living in SROs run by a social service agency.

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