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Homelessness is uncalled for

chriswerner_1

Member
Messages
4
Points
0
I live in London, Ontario Canada pop: approx. 350, 000. This city does not have a large homeless population but it is present and frankly annoying, not to mention repulsive. Not to be insensitive to the feeling of others (waaaaaaaa!!!!8-{} ) but in this day & age, and particularly with the extensiveness of our social saftey-net ie. "Ontario Works" (a.k.a. "fare-well" aka welfare), Men's mission, Salvation Army, numerous churches etc, etc, etc. There seems to me really no excuse for someone to be homeless unless of couse they are criminals (in which case we have jails) or mentally defective (in which case we have institutions) In our quasi-socialist country we provide everything that a person requires NOT to be homeless so there should be no excuse for it. Therefore I draw the conclusion that this is a chosen way of life. Simply put, someone who is sleeping on the streets made choices that forced them to sleep on the street... for example... going to drink somewhere instead of making the 11PM curfew at the misson or wherever. That is why it is my opinion that people who choose to be homeless should perhaps live in the wilderness or some far off location away from our urban areas. If they wish to drop-out of our civilization and not participate in our society, they should not feel so offended when our officials ask them to leave. What is so Draconian about asking someone who doesn't want to play our game to leave the the game area. How about a new slogan "This is is for CITIzens only... bohemians will be asked to leave."

What is most bothering about the homeless is not how they clog up traffic while they push their 2-shopping cart contraption down a main traffic arterial giving the finger to the people honking behind them; it is not the incessant rambling the disturbs your reading while you wait for the bus; it's not even the "spare change" they ask for when really, they just don't want to ask mom or dad for $10 so they can get a gram of weed because mom and dad are being @$$holes about the tongue peircing and the empty bottle of Crown they found; The MOST bothersome thing is that this type of behaviour keeps the timid from visiting downtown because it so DANGEROUS. (last year our murder rate doubled from the year before... to 4 murders up from 2 the previous year.... no... that's not a day or a month... that was all year.... citywide) Homeless people make a bad statement to visitors and citizens alike. It's say.... "yeah, we're building a new arena... brand new central library... but we're not doing enough to keep these people off the street. Frankly, we are doing more than enough... except keeping the mentally ill institionalized or at least taken care of and being firm on anti-vagrant by-laws. Tax paying citizens pay for our beautiful tree-lines streets and new libraries, parks etc etc. We shouldn't be afraid to use them because the "non-participants" are blocking the entrance asking some change "for something to eat."
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
24,902
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52
my apologies
definition #2 admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret
 
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Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,841
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59
Administrator's note: Since this thread is relevant to more places than just London, Ontario, I'm moving it to Economic and Community Development, which is really the closest related sub-forum. (Cyburbia doesn't have sub-forums for specific social issues, such as homelessness and racism.)

Please, no comments about Mugbub. They add nothing a topic I think the OP intends to be serious about. You've been warned.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
This is the third post in which I am going to agree with the "heartless" view of homelessness. The way our social welfare programs are set up (at least in the non-Canadian states) there are people who, despite their legitimate efforts, can fall through the cracks. Even these, though, likely made some decisions that contributed to where they are - spending up credit cards, not getting the education offered for free to all, or deciding to have the four kids by four different missing fathers. This evening I saw a homeless drunk shouting and swearing at three guys because they would not give him some money. That is not the behaviour that creates a livable city. Should these people be allowed to roam around, annoying or even intimidating people? Should they be allowed to urinate in the streets? Should they be allowed to disrupt the lives or mere daily routines of the responsible citizens of a community? My answer is NO. Sober them up and force them to work (maybe a structured program similar to the military?). If that does not work, lock them up or ship them off to Canada.

Note #1 - Don't send them off into the wilderness. Those of us who enjoy the wilderness don't want to run into them there.

Note #2 - London, Ontario! Not far from Delhi, eh?
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
25
I have conflicting views on the homeless. There are some homeless that suffer from mental illness and truly need the assistance that shelters and social service agencies provide. However there are some homeless that seem like they are fully capable of holding a job, but they would rather not work. There was this one guy in Milwaukee who would hang out near bars and ask people for money. One night my car got "booted" for being illegally paked and the guy who unbooted it told me that he set up a job for this guy and he showed up for an hour then left and never showed up again. People like that I have no pity for.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Sorry Dan :(

In all seriousness, I think the problem is that the "compassion industry" has, to a certain extent, conflated/confused the various categories of people who annoy us average citizens. There are truly the desperate, who are down on their luck. But, there is, and always has been, a significant "hobo" contingent. These free spirits simply don't want anything to do with rules or "standard" social roles.

I have a problem with people who have made a career out of begging. There are a couple of women beggars in Berkeley who have been sitting there calling out in a pained voice "Spare Change" for over TEN YEARS. Because I don't buy the argument that sitting on the sidewalk cadging change is a legitmate occupation, how is my contributing money to this individual of any benefit to them, as it enables them to continue their begging lifestyle?

I think I need to change my moniker from "Skeptical Lefty" :(
 

The Irish One

Member
Messages
2,267
Points
25
There will ALWAYS be people wanting to live on the streets and Berkeley is the perfect example. For years you could see the same guys pushing their act on the street -always with a cup or guitar case for change collection. From Shattuck & University over to Telegraph and Bancroft.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
i never give money to people on the street. it just encourages them to spend more time there. Don't even get me started on the poverty pimps and Christian "missionaries."

but most of the people who make a permanent home on the street around here are struggling with mental illness. The drug addiction is more or less a symptom. Self-medicating they call it. If you know anyone with schizophrenia you'll know that it only takes a few days without medication before they start resisting all attempts at re-medicating in the traditional pharmaceutical sense. From there it's a downward spiral.

I think the prevalance of mental illness (particularly schizophrenia) and addiction in our society is more or less the writing on the wall.


here's something on the homeless and their "effluent" from the Philly Daily News that sums it up for me . . . except for jim keeney assuming that addiction causes mental illness when it's normally the other way around.

Paul Levy, executive director of the Center City District, whose mission is to attract residents, tourists and businesses by keeping downtown clean, said Philadelphia agencies have housed and social-serviced "all but the most shelter-resistant, most seriously addicted, most mentally ill people."

Those hardcore homeless who refuse care "may be physically incontinent or totally unaware that they are urinating and defecating in public," he said.

Guaranteed civil liberties prevent outreach workers and police from forcing the chronically homeless to accept shelter and services, Levy said, "but a person lying out in the street in his own urine or feces is not a person exercising his civil liberties. He's a person in desperate need of help."

The man living under the decaying Eric's Place marquee wears similar messages and shouts gibberish at passers-by. He needs mental-health services. He isn't getting them. He needs indoor plumbing. He isn't getting that, either.

A prominent Realtor's sign is propped against the theater's pee-stained lobby window: for sale or lease. Fat chance.

"I'm here seven years," said Danny Ganon, who manages Classic Kids Clothing a couple of storefronts away, "and for seven years it's been like this. It's horrible, man. It always smells of urine.

"The one bum lives there, sleeps there, pees and does everything else there. We called the guys from the Center City District. They hosed it a couple of times. The bum came back. The owner of that building doesn't do anything. Somebody needs to close that place up, so the bum can't live there."

"Every day when I open the store, I smell the urine," said Tal Jacobson, manager of Moda women's fashions next door. "It's especially bad in the summer. Customers will say, 'What's that smell?' But they know what the smell is."

City Councilman Frank DiCicco said the excrement storm will continue until the city deals with the root cause: homelessness.

"In recent months, I've noticed an increase in people sleeping on sidewalks in Center City," DiCicco said. "The other night, around six o'clock, I saw 50 or more men sitting on benches on the Parkway between 16th and 17th, waiting for the food trucks to arrive.

"These so-called humanitarian do-gooders come in from the burbs and feed these people out of the back of a truck or a van, and then drive away. It's just like putting out a bowl of milk for a stray cat that you don't want to take in.

"And the homeless guy figures, 'I'll eat my meal and go piss and take a dump and find some place to sleep, and tomorrow I'll beg for money to support my addiction.' The number of beggars is getting back to where it used to be years ago. And they all know that six o'clock is feeding time on the Parkway."

"The ultimate problem of these street people is their addiction," said City Councilman Jim Kenney. "If I fell down on the street and split my head open and the rescue squad came and saw that I was unconscious, would they ask me if I wanted to go to the hospital? No. They'd take me to the hospital and fix me. Well, these people are broken, too.

"But instead of taking them before a compassionate community court judge who would compel them receive proper treatment, we force our police to ask them if they want treatment. If they say no, they're right back out living on the street. So the homeless problem is like a hamster wheel. It just keeps going around and around. It never ends because we are unwilling to end it."
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
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34
Re: Sorry Dan :(

This is turning into a very interesting discussion. The purposefully homeless and menatally-ill homeless are not merely annoying. They are more than a threat to community quality-of-life and economic well-being. They are a risk to public health and safety. The liberal element that has been advocating so hard for the "rights" of these people have failed to see that by creating these "rights" they have in fact deprived a majority of decent, hard-working people their rights. I have a solution for Philly. Round these problems up, haul them a couple hundred miles east of the city, and drop them off. I they find their way back, then maybe you can let them stay. ;)

BKM said:
I think I need to change my moniker from "Skeptical Lefty" :(
There is plenty of room on the dark side. Welcome.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
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10,624
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34
Re: Re: Sorry Dan :(

Michael Stumpf said:
Round these problems up, haul them a couple hundred miles east of the city, and drop them off. I they find their way back, then maybe you can let them stay.
Mike - I mentioned this in the other homeless thread. The cops here where I work do that everytime one wanders through.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
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29
I know that you were being somewhat tongue-and-cheek, but unless you live someplace like Necada (sorry, Nevadans), there is noplace that you can drive them a couple of hundred miles away and drop them off. Why should Fairfield have to deal with San Francisco's homeless from 50 miles away?

As I noted earlier, there is something about our culture/society/economy that produces a larger number of people who cannot cope with everyday realty. Probably add all the chemicals we've been dumping to the environment for 100 years.

But, I agree, it is not "humane" to allow someone to sit in a puddle of his or her own feces.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
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34
Re: Re: Re: Sorry Dan :(

Chet said:
Mike - I mentioned this in the other homeless thread. The cops here where I work do that everytime one wanders through.
Yes, dropping somebody off a hundred or so miles east of the Milwaukee suburban area would be comparable east of Philadelphia. (Think about it.)
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
A while ago the Philly Daily News did an article on a "fake bum" who camped out every day in front of Bridge-Pratt (on of the main Public Transit hubs in Philly) ... the guy drove a BMW and made a great living by begging daily.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
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25
Re: Re: Sorry Dan :(

Michael Stumpf said:
Round these problems up, haul them a couple hundred miles east of the city, and drop them off. I they find their way back, then maybe you can let them stay. ;)
The city of Atlanta actually did this before and during the '96 Olympics. The City gathered up homeless people near game venues and gave them one-way bus tickets across the state line. Many of them ended up in Asheville, NC and Greenville, SC, and neither one of those cities were very grateful for the new visitors.

I currently work with many of the homeless support groups that my city contracts with and know firsthand that there is no real reason for any of those persons living on the streets to be there. There are well funded shelters for families, for women, teenagers, drug addicts, you name 'em...anybody who needs a place could have a place. But yet there are still those "professionally homeless" persons who are in strategic locations panhandling throughout the day. It's lead me to believe that these are either mentally ill and/or simply choosing to live under highway overpasses and bridges - Either way I refuse to give them money.
 
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Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
35
Mike D. said:
A while ago the Philly Daily News did an article on a "fake bum" who camped out every day in front of Bridge-Pratt (on of the main Public Transit hubs in Philly) ... the guy drove a BMW and made a great living by begging daily.
We had one like that here too - the "Shaky Lady". The Sun did an expose on her. She took a swing at the reporter and ended up in court.
 

Greenescapist

Cyburbian
Messages
1,169
Points
24
Re: Re: Re: Sorry Dan :(

biscuit said:
There are well funded shelters for families, for women, teenagers, drug addicts, you name 'em...anybody who needs a place could have a place. But yet there are still those "professionally homeless" persons who are in strategic locations panhandling throughout the day. It's lead me to believe that these are either mentally ill and/or simply choosing to live under highway overpasses and bridges - Either way I refuse to give them money.
I do agree with a lot of you that, depending upon the area, there are some services for the homeless. However, I think they vary widely and the mentally ill are perenially short-changed. I don't purport to be some expert on homelessness, but I've always heard that a good percentage of them are suffering from either drug/alcohol addiction or mental illness. Most areas do not provide any serices to help with these diseases. True, hot food and a cot provide minimum requirements for sustenance and shelter - but we're not really helping a large group of the homeless unless we go after some of the underlying causes.

On the side note of the homeless on streets, I've lived in two big cities in the US - Boston and DC and traveled to lots of others. In terms of numbers, DC and San Francisco have the most I've seen anywhere. Maybe other cities have more shelters and treatment? I don't know what it takes.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
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29
Well it doesn't help that San Francisco:

1. Has a militantly compassionate political establishment

2. Leveled much of its "skid row" (where the Modern Art Museum, high priced condos, and Yerba Buena Gardens are today). Admittedly, I understand it was pretty tatty-but it provided cheap housing. (Thus, can the blame for the explosion be partly attributable to us planners? (j/k)

3. Is still insanely expensive. $1000/month for a tiny studio in the nastiest parts of town.

4. Is the "end of the road" for dreamers, people running from their lives in the east/midwest, and other assorted nonconformists. (I was working counter one day, and this kid (maybe 21, sorry youths) shows up. He had driven across the country in a rattletrap car, was out of money, and had only a scrap of paper with a nonexistent street and address on it. He had left the east coast to come live with someone he had "met" through the internet!)
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
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3,232
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25
BKM said:
I was working counter one day, and this kid (maybe 21, sorry youths) shows up. He had driven across the country in a rattletrap car, was out of money, and had only a scrap of paper with a nonexistent street and address on it. He had left the east coast to come live with someone he had "met" through the internet!
The obvious solution would have been to tell him that the address was actually in LA. ;)
 
Messages
20
Points
2
some numbers for you...

These are all really rough numbers:

About 25% of the homeless are mentally ill. That's a much higher percentage than the general population. There's also usually a pretty high percentage of drug and alcohol addiction among homeless populations.

The belief that homeless people like living on the street is a myth. When surveyed, most homeless people don't respond that they would prefer to continue living on the street - most of them would like the implied stability of a home / job / community. -- Which is not to say that quite a few homeless people aren't employed; they just don't make enough to afford a house. Here's an interesting fact: since the 70s and 80s most large urban areas have had fairly sharp declines in the amount of single-room-occupancy housing. That's a big issue if you're living on less than 900 bucks a month, have a drug addiction and / or mental illness and perhaps don't have family or friends you can turn to for help.

Then you've got major deinstitutionalization of mentally ill patients in the 70s and 80s, fairly draconian cuts in social service agencies, outdated and ineffective care for drug addiction (when a person with no home or income, who doesn't qualify for state care can even get it).

Point is, there are so many contributing factors that it's a little simplistic to say things like "they like living on the street because they do drugs and are mentally ill. We should cart them into the boonies so I don't have to step over them on my way to my morning latte." That attitude isn't recognized by anyone who works with homeless people as being a valid solution.

(and that's all without even going into detail about why a homeless person has just as much right as you to be in public, or the generally disregarded notion that poverty somehow equates to a deficiency of character or mental capacity. wealthy homeowners aren't genetically superior to poor people. )

Just throwing stuff out there... :D
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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6,464
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29
You do bring up some good points Madhi (thus my admission on the other post that I had mixed feelings about the issue).

I'm not sure I agree with everything, though. I think some people do argue that they don't have a right to hang out in public spaces (spoiled suburbanites from gated communities, maybe??), but I doubt that many of us are making that argument. I would never agree that a homeless guy should be removed if his shabbiness or unkempt appearance are "unpleasant" and make my shopping trip less fun. If a homeless guy is threatening people for money, defecating in public, or (as I observed) hiking her skirt in the middle of the sidewalk and "letting it flow," that kind of behavior cannot be tolerated. Nor should it be tolerated for drunken college kids after a football game.

I think you also downplay the degree of choice by a certain proportion of the homeless population. Some, because they are off meds, others because they think they have a right to not follow any rules or have any responsibility.

Again, ten years as a professional beggar bothers me.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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6,464
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29
And, I would argue that being so out of control that your drug addiction/alcoholism has led to/contributed to being homeless IS in fact a deficiency of moral character. Poverty-not really. Sitting in a drunken stupor at noon with a bottle in a brown bag-yep.
 
Messages
20
Points
2
agreed

Actually, I agree with you and it would definately be negligent to presume that many homeless people (from my experience at least) are not in control of their lives and situation. They are. In many cases they've made decisions that have led them to the streets, and they can make the decision to better themselves and attempt to get Off the street. My assertion is that acknowledgeing that is only one of the steps in combatting homelessness.

I work, part time, with homeless people and we're Constantly presenting them with options, finding and providing them resources for getting stability and education. We're constantly modelling behaviour and getting them into programs. And sadly enough there Are some people who conciously choose to stay on the street. The bond there is just incredibly strong. There are also some incredible successes - it's just that they don't happen overnight.

To say that a homeless person has only to choose to not be homeless and voila! - that's also delusional. (not that you're asserting that, i'm just sayin') . I think the next step is recognizing that it's a complex issue that touches on how we treat and deal with drug addiction, and how addiction interferes with an individual's ability to make positive decisions for themselves. It touches on how we establish and organize our communities and economic priorities to include everyone, even the very very poor. How we fund our education system. How we confront racism and sexism and how they play into creating the stressors which can lead a person to the street. How we treat illness and where that is failing the poor and houseless.

It's important to look at all those, and more, so that we (those of us who feel like it's our duty to create functional cities and generally help out the less-priviledged) can attempt to provide options for people who have few. Yep, homeless people have choices, but in general they also have a significantly higher number of obstacles. Lets recognize those obstacles and work towards tearing them down and finding new ways of dealing with those issues by being inclusive and creative.

I know this is long... thanks for reading...

In addition, we should hold everyone up to a standard. You shouldn't be able to get away with criminal activity simply because you live on the street. You can't abuse people or crap all over the place, because the streets don't exclusively belong to any one person - homeless or not homeless.

Can you tell it's a slow day at work? :p I think it's great that this is being discussed.
 
Messages
20
Points
2
upon review...

upon review my reply seems a little dramatic and has a bit of an "us doing it for them, the retards of the world" attitude - which was not my intention. ;)
 

jordanb

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3,232
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25
What I'd like to see is the homeless rates in this country as opposed to the homeless rates in a country with first-world social services and labor laws like Canada or Britian.
 
Messages
20
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2
some numbers

Well, this CBC article plugs the number somewhere between 100K - 200K, with around 250K people homeless at some point in the year. That's about 1%, and the numbers aren't that clear.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/indepth/background/homeless.html

I've heard the official estimates of around 600K - 700K in the US. I'm finding various links to that, but not any souce data, just reports from foundations and news sites.

There's estimates of about 700K in Great Britain
here's an article (PDF) - not sure of the source.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Re: some numbers for you...

madhi said:
...it's a little simplistic to say things like "they like living on the street because they do drugs and are mentally ill. We should cart them into the boonies so I don't have to step over them on my way to my morning latte." That attitude isn't recognized by anyone who works with homeless people as being a valid solution.
True enough, but outside of those who work with the homeless, I would be willing to bet a very large number of "normal" people would be ready to simply have these people carted off. Let's except the menatally ill from this next line of thought. How much time and money do you continue to spend on getting somebody to get them to sober up, get a job, and contribute to society instead of lying in their urine on a public sidewalk, draining the vitality and resources of our cities? Much like the resolution to crime favored by many on another thread, I would suggest that at some point, after several failed attempts, you write the person off. They no longer have a right to drain resources from 1) the mentally ill who must be treated and taken off the streets, and 2) the homeless who are struggling to get on their feet.
 
Messages
20
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2
well

well people may want to cart them off, but it doesn't take much of an imagination to understand how that's not a viable solution.

by "write them off" what are you suggesting? that we have a three-strikes rule for homeless people, wherein we cut off access to social services? or, what?
 

Mud Princess

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4,896
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27
So many of the chronically homeless people you see on the streets are "dual-diagnosed" -- that is, they are BOTH mentally ill AND addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. This makes treatment a real challenge. People dealing with addictions sometimes suffer relapses; people dealing with mental illness sometimes delude themselves into thinking they no longer require their medication (or, it takes awhile before the doctors treating them can identify the right balance of medication)... And all of this is complicated by the victimization (rape, assault, etc.) of people living on the streets.

So what does "write them off" mean? No treatment for mental illness? No treatment for substance abuse?

Wouldn't it be better to provide them with safe shelter - SRO housing - so that they are not urinating in public, ranting, etc.? The problem is, the funding for this type of housing is severely limited, and no one wants SRO housing in their backyard. Are chronically homeless men and women supposed to live on an island somewhere, or what?
 

Cardinal

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34
Mud Princess said:
Are chronically homeless men and women supposed to live on an island somewhere, or what?
That may be one of the better suggestions.

I did specifically exempt the mentally-ill from my "write them off" comment, as I recognize their special circumstances. The people I would target are those without mental illness, who, despite repeated attempts by social service organizations, continue to stay on the street rather than make the choices and do the work to be a contributing member of society. Yes, there is a point at which I would advocate withdrawing public funds for their support, and yes, I think that they should be vigorously "patrolled" by the police. We owe that to the vast majority of people who suffer by these peoples' actions.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
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29
Of course, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the "deserving homeless" and those who we "just cut off."

I am afraid that there has to be a middle ground between the committed homeless advocates (I admire your commitment, Madhi, btw) who are always willing to "try again," and the drive them into the desert and dump 'em off school.

Interestingly enough, the commercial corridor that I am helping to develop a plan for in Fairfield has a problem with the homeless. We have invited a local homeless coordinator to participate in some of our public workshops. She is surprisingly very much of the "tough love" school. The eprception among the business community is that our police seem unwilling (maybe "disinterested") to crack down in enforcing quality of life laws like trespassing, public inebriation, etc. She advocated very forcibly for more aggressive enforcement.

As for SRO housing-locating such housing in an existing single family neighborhood is of course incredibly difficult.

O/T Rant: As for three strikes, what about yanking the corporate charters of large corporations who commit a felony three times? I believe California is looking at doing this. The concept of "limited liability" has gone way too far
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
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23
WARNING: rant follows

when NJ shut down its "state hospitals" (read:looney bins) it was really just the first step at "privatizing" (read:doing away with)mental health services.

beautiful hotels in towns like Asbury Park, Ocean Grove, and Bradley Beach turned into hundreds of SRO's.

So what you had were hundreds of mentally ill people wandering the streets everyday, some who took their meds, some who didn't. Of course, the places were eventually shut down, one by one, for code violations and by the mid 80's there were a lot fewer places for these people to go.

A lot of them wound up on the street.

It's great that the media likes to hunt down some able-bodied guy who's making a living panhandling and parade him around like "everyday homeless man" but the fact is, he's not.

Everyone on the street has different circumstances as to why they got there. You can't say with any degree of certainty that some bum wound up on the street because he's on the bottle or he's turned into a wino because he lives on the street.

As someone who stands on hot subway platforms on a regular basis i have no patience for people urinating in public be they homeless or just on their way home from the Phillies game.
I also have no patience with hearing a story about how so-and-so is "just trying to catch the bus to get home - could i help him out with a quarter" every other block when i know damn well that if it's not for booze it's for heroin.

I think that if the police were able and willing to give the homeless a hard time a lot of them would stop resisting shelter and treatment because it would be easier than being hassled by the cops all of the time. I would like to see this happen here.
No one should be allowed to sleep on the street as a matter of health and public safety.

but then we as a city would have to decide if we're going to put up the money to provide dignified facilities. We can't expect people to all of the sudden start respecting themselves if the system we're pushing them through treats them worse than passers-by on the street.

that's to say nothing of the employment problem we have. The rate locally is around 6% - and that's just of people looking for work who were recently employed. It's also to say nothing of the the hundreds of thousands of jobs in the region that pay a salary that wouldn't even cover our own housing costs let alone food. It's all fine and dandy to tell people to get a job, even better to train them for said job, but when then there's nothing on the other end it's pointless and disheartening and in the end worse than doing nothing at all because when those people wind up back on the streets, and a lot of them do, they're going to be even more resistant to shelter the next time around.

If we're not going to make sure that people get paid a wage they can actually live on (and maybe even save some money for when the bad times do roll around) and we're not going to provide them with a safety net for the hard times then we can't really complain too much when they're tearing apart our trash bags in the middle of the night looking for scraps of food.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
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30
I am wading in a bit late. But here are a few examples and comments from my experiences.

One of the primary causes of homelessnes in Saint John and to a lesser extent in Toronto is the deinstitutionalizing of marginal mental health cases. In Saint John they closed centre care and let all but the people that for sure could not take of themselves out into the community. Some of these people had been there for 30 years with no idea of how to function in the outside world.

999 Queen West in Toronto did the same thing about 10 years ago. It lead to a lot of people being booted from care that they had come to rely on as they never learned the skills to be unwarehoused.

On a related note in TO , Home Depot just recently closed "tent city" due to liability and health reasons. this was an area set up by homeless people that did not want the rules of the system to impact them (sobriety in hostels, married couples, "hobos"). these people choose to be homeless, but still wanted a place to stay. Some people were relocated to social housing others to SRO's and others to hotels for a few nights until they figured out what they wanted to do.
 

Queen B

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As I read through all the reponses to this post I was uncertain whether my feeling on this topic are more liberal or conservative.
First, I do believe that to correct problems there should be consequences for behavior and as a society I believe we contribute to homeless behavior by rewarding it with handouts, shelters, and food. I liked the stray cat reference.
If people urinate in public, and it is not reprimanded then it will continue. If people are drunk or drugged up in public at 10 AM and it is ok, then it will continue.
As usual, I believe as a society we over react and the pendelum swings to far before coming back to something reasonable. The subject of deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill is still swinging. There have been tremendous advances in the numbers and quality of drugs that can assist the mentally ill with gaining a more normal life. This can make a difference. While I do believe that a great number of people that were housed in institutions can make a life for themselves, I do not believe they all should be out.
I believe that assistance should come at a price. Yes we will provide you a bed for the night but you must sweep this sidewalk or hose down this wall that has been urinated on. You must work on this cleanup crew first. If given handouts, they expect handouts and they will work the system every chance they get.
 

jresta

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it's great to say we're going to punish offenders for urinating in public - and well we should. The punishment, however, is a normally a disorderly persons fine. Homeless people will most likely spend a week in jail for it because they can't afford to pay the fine. Jails aren't mental health facilities. Besides, if we want to start punishing things like that on a regular basis we have to fund the courts, the police and the jails first.

but more to the point, jails, like medication, are band-aid remedies. They try to cover up symptoms. They don't do anything to get at the root of things like structural unemployment, the prevelance of addiction in our society, or why mental illness is on the rise.

There's plenty of subscriptions for happy pills floating around in the medicine cabinets of suburbia. The difference there is a safety net. Health insurance, credit cards, and a savings account.

btw - most of the guys cleaning the streets in philly, the employees of the Center City SSD, are the formerly homeless.
Needless to say, it's barely made a dent.

The problem is not that we don't have enough dirty sidewalks it's that we have more empty hands than brooms.
 

jresta

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donk said:

On a related note in TO , Home Depot just recently closed "tent city" due to liability and health reasons. this was an area set up by homeless people that did not want the rules of the system to impact them (sobriety in hostels, married couples, "hobos"). these people choose to be homeless, but still wanted a place to stay. Some people were relocated to social housing others to SRO's and others to hotels for a few nights until they figured out what they wanted to do.
This brings up another issue.

I'm talking about the people who choose to be homeless - not the mentally ill.

I'm not advocating tent cities here and i'm not suggesting that people should mooch off of the commonwealth but -

What if you don't want to work in walmart or mcdonalds? what if permanent housing doesn't really suit you? What if you want to live a more or less traditional aboriginal lifestyle - hunting, gathering, and subsistence farming? In exchange you'd give up all of your rights to food stamps, health care, and public housing.

The obvious answer is "You can't because you'd be trespassing anywhere you went" but if people want to live like that (again, not sleeping in tents in city parks but wandering the wilderness) why not provide them the opportunity? Australia does it and the "ferals" ,as they call them, come out of the rainforests once a month to collect their dole.

The US & Canada are both large countries with a whole lot of federal land to go around and they both claim to be "free" countries, right? So why force people into an economic complex if they don't want to be a part of it?

We could get the voluntary homeless out of our cities, the Christians would take their food trucks out to the forests and hopefully, my commute would smell a little better.
 

BKM

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ferals

That's certainly an interesting idea, jresta.

Because you are right, there are a percentage of people who DON'T want to live a standard (let's avoid the term "normal" here). Recognizing this is better than condemning them to scavenging in big cities. And, it fits in with the idea that atomized, fast-paced modern urban society is literally making some people mentally ill-or that some people cannot or do not want to adjust to this kind of society.

Of course, finding space for the ferals will be a bigger and bigger problem. And what about ferals who keep drifting back to the cities-because it is much easier to cadge change than live a hunting and gathering existence (especially since few urban dwellers would have the necessary skills). And, I wonder what percentage of the "homeless" would choose this-would such a program be "cherry picking" a few nonconformists, leaving just the lazy, the addicted, and the insane still in the cities-and not really solving the problem?

I'd like to learn more about the Australian ferals.

You do have a point about filling the jails with the drunk and deranged. That's exactly what our police say-the courts and jails can't handle them.
 

Cardinal

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I think if a person wanted to live a life in the wilderness it would not be difficult for them to do. There are plenty of National Forest and BLM lands in the west where a person could camp and to a good extent, even live off the land. I do not think that is a solution for the homeless, though. There is a significant distinction between someone who wants to leave the bounds of civilization and someone who merely chooses not to work. The homeless survive not by using their skills and wits, but by begging, stealing, and taking advantage of whatever public or private welfare program they can find. Put them in the wilderness and they will likely die or make a beeline for the nearest city.
 
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great

Just wanted to say that I'm excited by all of the discussion in this thread and I'm happy that you all have opinions on the matter -- even if they're different from mine.
 

Cardinal

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Re: great

madhi said:
Just wanted to say that I'm excited by all of the discussion in this thread and I'm happy that you all have opinions on the matter -- even if they're different from mine.
Yes, this is a very good discussion. Too bad about your opinions, but you can always change them to the right ones. ;)
 

jresta

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Re: ferals

I wasn't really suggesting this as a solution to homelessness. It was more or less an aside. BKM is right, it would more or less weed out the easy cases but i think it would make dealing with homelessness in cities a lot easier. You would weed out a lot of the shelter-resistant people and you could concentrate your resources on those that really need help.

One question, though, is it legal to just hang out on federal land like that? Hunting and fishing as you pleased? what about disturbing the land, for instance if you want to plant some corn for yourself?

BKM said:
That's certainly an interesting idea, jresta.
Of course, finding space for the ferals will be a bigger and bigger problem. And what about ferals who keep drifting back to the cities-because it is much easier to cadge change than live a hunting and gathering existence (especially since few urban dwellers would have the necessary skills). And, I wonder what percentage of the "homeless" would choose this-would such a program be "cherry picking" a few nonconformists, leaving just the lazy, the addicted, and the insane still in the cities-and not really solving the problem?
If we can spend a few million locally on rehab programs, mental health, and other social services I'm sure we could shift some of the money to put people through wilderness training. We've got a pretty famous one in the Pine Barrens http://www.trackerschool.com

I'm by no means a fertility expert but something tells me that you're not likely to see a large population explosion in the woods and unless it turns out to be a really attractive lifestyle i don't think you're likely to see people turning off their computers and walking into the wilderness.

Here's an essay on the "ferals" in Australia although it's written from an anarcho-primitivist perspective - probably a bit too radical of a discussion for this board. Granted, too, that this lifestyle revolves around environmental activism whereas i couldn't see too many career homeless guys from North Philly moving out to the woods and coming back into town once a month for a protest.
 

Cardinal

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Re: Re: ferals

jresta said:
One question, though, is it legal to just hang out on federal land like that? Hunting and fishing as you pleased? what about disturbing the land, for instance if you want to plant some corn for yourself?
There is a great deal of variation from place to place. In many parts of the southwest, you can camp on BLM or National Forest land without charge. The stipulations are usually that it has to be a certain distance from any road and that you can only stay in one spot for a certain length of time. Fishing is more commonly permitted than hunting. In some places a state license may be required. (In many national parks, you do not need a license.) Growing crops would likely be frowned upon, but eating edible plants found in the wild is permitted. So... go out west and pitch your tent near a stream. Enjoy a fresh trout grilled with wild onions, and some huckleberries on the side. Wash it down with cool water, contaminated by arsenic and selenium from the 1950's-era uranium mine just upstream. :)
 

Michele Zone

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Hey, folks. I was going to wait until I changed my e-mail address but I felt compelled to reply to this thread. So I registered today so I can post my 2 cents worth on this thread.

I took a class last year called Homelessness and Public Policy. You can take some or all of this class for free (but also without the academic credit) because the professor is extremely committed to these issues and makes the entire course (except where you post your assignments, if you pay for the class for academic credit) on the World Wide Web at:
http://thecity.sfsu.edu/~bahp/outline582_me.htm

The causes of homelessness are extremely complex. The short answer is that some folks are ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of modern life and need the system to take a sort of ‘paternalistic’ role in their lives.

As someone else mentioned, a couple of decades or so ago, they decided to ‘privatize’ mental health and began releasing folks from mental institutions, giving them their ‘freedom’. This was supposed to be done with the aid of an elaborate support system to help them make the transition. That support system basically never materialized. Many of the homeless today are folks that would have been in a mental institution a few decades ago and SHOULD have been helped to make the transition to life on their own, but weren’t given that support.

I live in California, where only about 50% of the demand for new housing has been met every year, for at least 10 years. That represents a huge backlog of unmet need and is one of the forces driving up the price of housing to outrageous levels and promoting homelessness.

They have been sticking homeless folks on a bus and shipping them out of town as a “solution” for decades. I am kind of disappointed to find that idea repeated here. I would like to see some new ideas tried – with an aim towards actually reducing homelessness rather than merely shifting it around the map.

In an effort to keep this reasonably short, I will refrain from droning on and on about how much it costs the government to keep people homeless by dealing only with the symptoms and not the causes. It really is in the best interests of everyone to try to find effective means to address the issue and not just resort to a ‘blame the victim’-type mentality or a knee-jerk ‘quick solution’ that doesn’t actually solve anything.

Not meaning to beat up anybody. Just giving a view from The Michele Zone.
 

Cardinal

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Let's say there are four types of homeless; 1) people who are down on their luck and want to improve themselves; 2) ones with mental problems who are not able to function in the "normal" world; 3) drug and alchohol abusers whose addictions keep them from being employed; and 4) the people who willingly choose to be homeless rather than work.

If we use this typology, which of these people should receive resources from our governments? I would argue that we should invest heavily in those struggling to get back on their feet. Likewise, we should give treatment and perhaps re-institutionalize those who can't function on their own. The free ride begins to get shorter with the addicts. Spend the resources to get them sober, but if they continue to resist treatment, cut off the aid or lock them up in jail. Nothing should be given to those who choose homelessness. Run them out of town.

Just my opinion.
 

jresta

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Re: Re: Re: ferals

that link about the australian "ferals" didn't show up in the last post for some reason. So here it is . . .

http://www.confest.com/thesis/fiveindex.html

Michael Stumpf said:
Enjoy a fresh trout grilled with wild onions, and some huckleberries on the side. Wash it down with cool water, contaminated by arsenic and selenium from the 1950's-era uranium mine just upstream. :)
This is funny and sad at the same time. Of course, contamination goes without saying in bigger cities.

Here's an interesting interpretation:

"Urbanism is capitalism’s seizure of the natural and human environment; developing logically into absolute domination, capitalism can and must now remake the totality of space into it’s own setting. Time, work, environment and joy all have their norms set by modern ways of production."

after the soil and water have been rendered useless for the next 10,000 years or so you don't have much of a choice but to go to the grocery store and buy farm raised fish, hydroponic onions, and bottled water. Or stand in line at the bread truck because beggars can't be choosers.
 

Michele Zone

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Michael,
I am so thrilled to see that you have managed to compact an entire semester’s worth of study into a single afternoon and still come up with the time and energy to give us your now informed opinion.
(Translation of Blarney: I will always respect your God-given right to a) choose to remain ignorant on a topic and b) spout off on it anyway. However, if you want me to actually respect your opinion and even possibly sway my supposedly ‘liberal/commie’ views, you got to do better than that.)
Actually, I do not see myself as either ‘liberal’ or ‘commie’. (More like ‘mommy’ than ‘commie’.) However, having lived on one income for a long time, it galls me to see money being pissed away for no real gain. We won’t help these people pay for housing but we will pay the ridiculously high cost of emergency room visits for medical problems that have become severe – largely due to the lack of housing.
I am NOT for just outright paying for apartments for people (although that sounds cheaper than the system we have now, it is likely to be a worse ‘solution’ than the crap we have now). However, the general policy in America today of sticking by our silly ‘rugged individualism’ notions and then calling it humane when we do something for someone after things have completely gone to hell (and at a very steep price) is simply stupid.
People often have the misguided idea that they can choose to pay or NOT pay for something. The fact is, usually, it is not a matter of ‘whether or not to pay to deal with this problem’ but a matter of ‘when do I pay?’ and ‘what quality of solution does that buy me?’ which then significantly impacts the ‘price tag’.
 

Cardinal

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Michele Zone said:
Michael,
I am so thrilled to see that you have managed to compact an entire semester’s worth of study into a single afternoon and still come up with the time and energy to give us your now informed opinion.
My opinions are partly informed by eight years of college followed (and much improved) by fourteen years of professional practice in economic development. As such, they can hardly be fit into a brief posting. What I have given is a very abbreviated part of my understanding of the problems. I would still offer that it is likely to be far better than the academic version, as it is based in reality.

It may surprise some people to learn that our resources are, in fact, very limited. We have to make decisions about how we expend them, and how much of their income the typical citizen is allowed to keep for all their trouble in earning it. I will stick by my point in saying that my first priority will be to the people who are stuggling to better themselves, and those whose legitimate mental or physical impairments keep them from participating in normal society in a normal capacity. After that, I will go sa far as to suggest that the rest be given some number of chances to reform themselves. If they choose not to, then I am all for cutting them off and re-allocating those resources to the people who will benefit from them. Without that accountability and without that threat, we are just wasting our money. If some "charitable" group wants to take these people on, let them. Just don't do it with tax dollars or by mortgaging our future.
 

Michele Zone

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Michael Stumpf said:
My opinions are partly informed by eight years of college followed (and much improved) by fourteen years of professional practice in economic development. As such, they can hardly be fit into a brief posting. What I have given is a very abbreviated part of my understanding of the problems. I would still offer that it is likely to be far better than the academic version, as it is based in reality.

The academic version required hands on work directly with the homeless population in a 40 hour internship (something like a third of my grade) and is taught part time by a full-time social worker dealing issues of homelessness. I am not big on 'ivory tower' stuff either. I prefer professors who actually work full time in their area of expertise.

It may surprise some people to learn that our resources are, in fact, very limited.

Did you read the rest of my post? (Serious question -- not an attack.) I talked about cost effectiveness and how present 'solutions' just piss away a lot of resources.

I will stick by my point in saying that my first priority will be to the people who are stuggling to better themselves, and those whose legitimate mental or physical impairments keep them from participating in normal society in a normal capacity.

That would also be my first priority. I really don't see myself as some bleeding heart liberal.

After that, I will go sa far as to suggest that the rest be given some number of chances to reform themselves. If they choose not to, then I am all for cutting them off and re-allocating those resources to the people who will benefit from them. Without that accountability and without that threat, we are just wasting our money.

That is exactly why I am not 'for' just paying for apartments for folks but the lack of housing is generally the cause of their high medical bills and other expensive issues that we spend far more on than it would cost to outright house them.

If some "charitable" group wants to take these people on, let them. Just don't do it with tax dollars or by mortgaging our future.
I don't have any problem with that. I do not think the government should carry the whole burden. I don't think a 'government only' approach even gets you the best solution (may not even get you a good solution). I just object to your 'run them out of town' comments. Perhaps you don't really mean them.
 

chriswerner_1

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Originally posted by Mud Princess
Are chronically homeless men and women supposed to live on an island somewhere, or what?

Well that is not a totally original idea. This was done before. Today the island is called "Australia."

Although it's not quite the same thing. Those banished to Australia were convicted criminals. But I have just the solution: urinating in public.... 3 strikes you're out.... banished to the island-nope-that's it-okbye.

You know, not to open up a can of worms... but maybe Hitler had the right idea... if you're old and not contributing to the "greater good" you get a one way train ticket to the ovens.
(p.s. I am using black humour here and my intention is not to offend anyone, so I apologize in advance)

On a more serious note: In my original post, I was speaking directly of the homeless. I was not speaking of the poor. Being poor is one thing. Ranting to yourself in a storefront is another thing.
 

Michele Zone

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chriswerner_1 said:
Originally posted by Mud Princess
Are chronically homeless men and women supposed to live on an island somewhere, or what?

Well that is not a totally original idea. This was done before. Today the island is called "Australia."

Then there' s always Leper colonies. Or Flea markets (not exactly the same thing, but sort of similar). And I could probably think of some other examples if I tried.
 
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