I've been in San Francisco this weekend, where the homeless population is pretty high compared to that of other cities. I've noticed that the situation is not as bad as it has been the previous times I've been here, which is a surprise, given the economy. Not so many sleeping downtown, etc.
I must have given out at least $10 in loose change, however, until I was a little upset with it.
What are your perspectives on how best to deal with the problem of the homeless, which seems perennial?
I'm sure that there are a million things that can be done in regard to this problem. However, initially one must decide which perspective one will take. Do you approach the problem as being a problem OR do you approach it from a collective or detached perspective and get rid of it that way OR from the perspective of the Homeless individual. A great question
I think that improving on the addiction and mental health treatment of individuals would help tremendously.
Don't know about the US, but ex-servicemen make up a large proportion of the homeless. The military tends to forget about them once they have left - many slip into drug addiction and alcohol abuse.
Yes, some of our veterans end up homeless. They too slip into drug addiction and alcohol abuse, I'm sure that many of them suffer from PTSD as well.
Quite a few of our homeless are ex-mental patients turned out on the streets when the old state mental hospitals shut down. Politicians promised that they would be looked after in "community centers", the thought being that people would respond better to treatment if they were included in the community rather than ostracized and sent away. Surprise, surprise, most of the community centers were never funded, so without any other recourse, these people were consigned to a life on the streets.
As for what we should do, don't you think that the people who choose to work with the homeless know far better than anyone else what is needed? I imagine the different needs of the population vary from city to city, state to state. If you really want to help, talking to those advocates might be the first step. The War on Poverty doesn't seem to be effective, neither does the idea that you can just build houses for people and give it to them. Perhaps what we should do is really listen to what these people want and not assume that we know what they want.
Well, LDT... (Funny this was resurrected again at this point.) Part of the reason I posted this was personal. I had a friend on the streets of NYC homeless. She just died last week. I guess we had been assuming/waiting that it would happen. From what I saw when I was there--I think it could get pretty rough in New York, given the climate and just the general texture of the place...
I frankly was clueless in her case. I believe it was mental, yes-- She used to be normal. I went to high school with her. The odd thing was that she seemed to want to be exactly where she was (and no, she wasn't completely mentally compromised--was not officially 'a danger to herself or others.' Officially.) But that is one thing--treatment facilities are overwhelmed.
I guess--though I feel it is a complicated issue--I feel these are people who cannot truly, fully care for themselves. I feel that some of you libertarians/conservatives take this issue of 'no material help...all fend for themselves...choice...no programs' way, way too far to prove your points. In some very real life instances it just sounds empty, formulaic and like you frame the world through your ideology instead of really seeing real life around you.
It sounds, Lita, like she chose this life for herself. Unlike someone who hears voices or sees things that aren't there according to you, she knew what she was doing. True mental illness is not about choice. We'd go round and round at the treatment center about what was really mental illness and what wasn't. The best definition I could come up with was a condition not arising out of choice or making bad decisions, that kept a person from living life as they would choose.
One of the great pitfalls in the mental health field is the labeling of personal choice as a mental illness. You see this most often in murder cases and temporary insanity pleas. That's an extreme example of course, but it also happens to a lesser degree with other conditions.
The question I think you have to ask yourself is, would your friend have been grateful to you for helping her out of that situation or resentful that you interfered in her life? That I think, will go a long way to answering the question of whether she lived her life by choice or not. As a libertarian, that is important to me that people be allowed to live their lives as they see fit. It's not a theoretical ideology, but a consequence of having free will. That doesn't mean that people will always make the right or good decisions, but in the end it's up to them to make them, not anyone else.
I am sorry to hear about your friend, I too have lost people I was once close with to drugs, etc. For them that lifestyle was more important than our friendship. I miss who they were and weep for what they've become, but once someone makes a choice like that and wants to live that way, there isn't much you can do about it.
I actually agree, as I did try in a sort of prosaic way (talk of jobs, etc., to help her. Which was beyond falling on deaf ears impossible)...Although I do believe she was mentally impaired. There are degrees with these things. It isn't cut and dried.
Still, if I had been her mother, even though she was no longer a kid, instead of sending her money to live on the streets--I'd have dragged her by her hair home to the Midwest.
Only she could have told you point blank if she was happy living her life as she did. Sure her mom could have dragged her kicking and screaming back home, but it probably would have harmed more than helped. That's why I said earlier in the case of the homeless, although it could hold true for the mentally ill or destitute, that we really need to listen to their concerns. Not approach the situation knowing the answer, but with an open mind that is willing to challenge it's assumptions about a situation which a person might not completely understand. Only then can we say for sure that we have an inkling of a situation that we ourselves have not experienced.
I knew her well. I believe it had to do with some insecurities, honestly, that she had had since high school and never rid herself of. Like...she told me it was better to be homeless in Manhattan than have an apt. in Brooklyn (like me). And that was a joke, but she obviously also found truth in it. Also had something to do with men, attractiveness, blah, blah...many there at the time I saw her in NYC worked as 'models,' which is just like saying escort...but on the streets a very low scale version of it. Geez.
Sometimes it is a basic function of a friend/mother/significant other to influence, advise, and to steer those going in a wrong direction to the right way. We are not just these floating entities of choice who do not interact and who do not influence each other in ways....or help. Otherwise, just saying in a theory-like fashion, lol, why write? Why teach? Why read? This is what I'm saying about taking the 'choice' argument/outlook too far....
Far be it from me to argue with the adviser perspective, but you can only take that so far before you step out of an advisory role and directly control someone's life. In the end it is up to the individual to make decisions for themselves. You or I may not agree with those decisions and we may hope, pray and wish people we are close to make good ones, but we can only do so much. Sometimes people do learn from their mistakes and make better decisions and sometimes they don't, sometimes all we can be is their friend even when they don't accept our advice.
Lita: Sorry to hear about your friend - sounds like the poor girl had a harsh life.
LDT: Sounds like you have similar problems in the US - I used to do voluntary work with the homeless, in the UK, and it is a very complex problem. Sadly, every homeless person has their own story, and a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. I agree with you fully on that score - it is easy to walk by and label somebody as a junkie or alcoholic, without asking 'why' they are. Too easy to look at the symptoms, rather than the cause.
So many homeless that I met were ex-servicemen who had turned to self-medication for their problems. Don't know about the US, but the British Army are notorious for leaving old soldiers to fend for themselves. Serve your country; thank you, now f@£k off.
As for Care in the Community - the same happened here - it became a way to save money rather than try to help people. I think that we are on the same songsheet with mental illness. People still do not see it as an illness - there is still such a stigma attached.
I was in Houston recently for 6 months and I was amazed at the amount of homeless people out and about. I was truly faced with a delema of to give money or not to give money. One day we drove around and handed out bottled water to many of them. You hear so many stories that some people choose to be homeless and actually make a lot of money panhandling. I think stronger treatment programs would help, but also giving positive feedback and outreach with job training to those homeless individuals who are willing to accept it. I don't know....but my heart goes out to them.
When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s the city I grew up in didn't have a homeless problem. We had drunks, a few, and they stayed at the Hope Rescue Mission. Now so many families are on the streets the city doesn't have room at all its shelters combined.
We need more cheap government housing again. Reagan and pals nixed it, and now we have this.
OK, I'm ready for the right wing backlash now.
Take yer best shot guys.
Several years ago a homeless man in our area ("Shopping Cart Louis") was brutally, brutally, murdered when he made the mistake of asking some homeless young guys for a drink. Let's just say he was shot to death. He was in his seventies and had become known around the city for years. He was also a decorated Korean War veteran and divorced. I believe he had one child. This happened well before homelessness became an well publicized issue. Everyone wondered how someone like he could have "ended up homeless".
I've paid attention to the issue since then, and I'm convinced that a good part of homelessness is caused in the divorce courts, when people (usually men) are kicked out of their homes, are separated from the children they love, may (at times) know their children are with someone who isn't "the best parent", and have trouble affording a second home and child support. Courts and assistance programs operate on, "we only help minor children and the parents who have custody of them" - and that means there's no "start-up" help for the person who has been (figuratively speaking) kicked to the curb. I think many people end up staying with relatives for a while until they "get on their feet"; but welcomes wear out and fights happen. From there things spiral downward.
It's also created when kids run away from abusive homes; or when kids get in with "bad influences" and think they're parents are being unreasonable for "making a stink" if they do things like use drugs. It's created when schools fail kids and those grown kids end up living on small incomes with little margin for error and lots of risk at being kicked out of their apartments. It's also created when prisons let people out with no place to go and a couple of hundred dollars to go there on.
Of course, it also happens when people have mental illness or when they have substance abuse problems (before they're homeless); and when they can't "cut it" at shelters or group homes for people in their situation.
It doesn't help that programs (government or otherwise) often operate on the assumption that people who have no money "must" need counseling on how to manage it, or must have other problems. There is often help with free food or medical care, but there's the "We don't give money to anyone without minor children" thinking. People who are capable don't want counseling and free food. They don't want to be treated like they're "imbeciles" just because they lost a job or got kicked out in a divorce. As a result, a lot of people (again, usually men) write off "the system" and are left without any kind of help at all. I've known people (not homeless ones) who have come to see "the system" as "evil" after a divorce, because of the way it doesn't value both parents' ability to remain close to the children.
I live in a cold climate, and there have been times when I've gone on long walks and found the weather unbearable. I know I'll be home in twenty minutes, but I've often imagined how if I didn't know that I may be very tempted to take a drink to get rid of the "I'm losing my mind" feeling that comes with too much exposure to the cold. I mean, on one three-mile, Winter-winds, walk I've had moments of thinking, "How can I make my mind blank out. I wish I'd just die." (and I've known there was a warm house and hot tea waiting for me)
I think, too, people who are looking for answers are the people who don't look within their own ranks for those answers - which means, nobody finds the answers. End of my soapbox. The murder of Louis Pozniak ("Shopping Cart Louis"), whom I didn't even know but had seen for years, obviously had its impact on me.
I think it is a complicated problem--I think you all have good points here, if not 'A' solution.
Actually, my best friend from high school is homeless on the street in NYC--has been for years. When I lived there, it was such a weird experience. I had begun to worry about her when she lived in Chicago, and when she moved to New York--well, something was definitely up.
Her sister thought it was drugs--but I'm not sure--there was something a little mental going on, definitely, but whether it was caused by drugs, I don't know. The thing is she WANTED the lifestyle she had. She liked being in NYC homeless, and told me as much. Her mother would send her cash every once in a while--she would not go back home to Nebraska, though her mother wanted her to. And I was living with a boyfriend in a new relationship at the time--I didn't want her to live with us under the circumstances, especially with the 'partying' or whatever it was that she was doing. Talking to her about any sort of job was just impossible. It was almost as if you were not supposed to bring that up.
I felt bad--still do after a few years here-- The last time I spoke to her sister she was still homeless in the city by choice. Her communication to her family has even been sporadic by now. So--I don't know...
It struck me--being in San Francisco--that even though I am a bleeding heart liberal, , I am not that qualified to KNOW what there is to do to fix the problem. Of course I'm the type who gives money to causes--I'm the type who worked with refugees in a VISTA (stateside peace corp) program after undergrad as community service. And I think money and more affordable housing would go a long way. It also--sorry to say this--gets annoying to be hit up for money (which I give) every few blocks so that I have no change left. It's like a blight on the city.
Sorry about your friend. I believe that society is the biggest obstacle to helping the homeless. I mean, some people, the "Chronic Homeless", will always want to be homeless. Affordable housing won't fix it, mandatory addictions counciling won't change things.
But because the reality is "mainstream" society is educated to believe that this, that, and the kitchen sink are the causes, and if we just followed this list, we'd fix it. It's a lot more complicated than that, and I think the first thing is to reverse the notion that it's people's own fault for becoming homeless, and to re-educate society about the realities of what it really means to be homeless.
I've been to San Fran, and as far as I could tell, there was very little in ways of homeless services. They aren't even thought of as people. I know most all of Calgary's homeless population, to varying degrees, whether it's I recognize their face and they know mine, or if they're someone I lunch with on a regular basis.
I am honestly beginning to believe that the government (and by proxy, the whole of society) does not want to end homelessness. Rather, they want them there so they have something to condemn. better these 'low-lifes' than us. The homeless justify the rest of the population because no one really wants to be on the bottom rung. No one wants to be poorer, less healthy, earn less, spending less. As long is there are homeless, the housed, lower, middle, and upper-classes will feel justified in their existence, because "at least I'm not the lowest of the low, there's someone worse off than me."
And I'm not saying this is your particular attitude Lita. I do sense some compassion in you whenever we have one of these discussions, after all I'm just as much a "bleeding heart liberal" as you, But this is the attitude of most of society as a whole. I'm glad you're different. people like us are a rare breed these days.
And face it, "GET A JOB" is not the answer. If you owned a company, would you hire them? I mean look at them! wow, this issue is way deep.
I'm glad you brought this issue out to light.
It sounds like your friend does not like what she sees at home. That is why she prefers it on the street, however this is far from saying she likes it on the streets, this is just a cover from the real truth.
was your friend bullied at school? or maybe abused at home as a child. She/He sound more like a runaway than someone who is homeless. Please correct me if i am wrong.
There's two issues. Being homeless and the reason for it.
I have an old friend in the UK. Homeless. Hopelessly addicted to heroin. Many that see him (now) write him off. In his previous life, he was handsome, active - an all-round good guy. Some of his wider circle began experimenting with drugs. Which - due to one girl - became hard drugs. Initially, he distanced himself. Over the course of 18 months, he slowly succumbed. The wider circle narrowed. More and more were intrigued, or weak, until it arrived firmly at his door. He made a very poor choice. He's homeless because he cannot think of anything other than his next hit. His parents have bled themselves dry (he's not a teen, he's a grown, mature man) his sister the same. He's been to many rehabilitation centres. One was abroad. He cannot hold down a job - though he's been supported to work. In short, his life's in tatters. However - ultimately, he's responsible.
Equally, I see homeless individuals where I live. I don't know their stories. Some are clearly disfigured and/or disabled - possibly from the war that occured here some years ago. I also see professional beggars. They capitalise on the 'homeless' appearance - yet they're far from it.
If the money was available to provide affordable housing great. But - is there going to be enough money in the pot to keep paying the rent and bills? Many that are homeless have associated problems. I'm not judging, it's just a simple fact. Like Lisa pointed out, there are so many reasons as to why people become homeless. I've worked with young people that have been educated and supported to the point that when they've hit adulthood, they should've hit the ground running. Yet they've fallen, straight into drugs, drinking, petty theft etc. Past events? Immaturity? Plain irresponsible? Who knows.
Many would simply need a leg up again. A helping hand. And just as many again would need a whole program of rehabilitative steps in order to equip them with the skills they'd need to remain with a roof over their head.
This is a horrible epidemic. There is no answer. The biggest problem is potentially financial. Followed by a lack of adequate housing. For me, the worst aspect is that many on the streets today started out as children. The street was the safest place.
I believe that the homeless situation will never be anything other than what it is: a part of society.
I can see how, for a lot of people who started out only with a money problem, things would snowball if they got to where their days are spent worrying about how/where to eat or go the bathroom next. I can picture the physical discomforts and the humiliations people go through, and then throw in that they may be mourning be separated from children they love (and even thinking their children are with a parent who isn't "the greatest"). Once people get too stressed out/distressed, they can't concentrate or have any energy. If it goes on too long they'll become physically exhausted and barely able to function.
How can they work from the streets, or even a shelter? The kinds of jobs available to people who are homeless are usually not, for example, engineering jobs (and engineers can be laid off, or kicked out of their homes too). Instead, people are expected to "take any job" they can get. The bigger a mess someone becomes, the less likely it is he'll be hired for any job; but even if he is, imagine trying to work some "horrendous" job where people aren't treated with respect, and maybe with a nasty boss; when you're already living in hell and have already been mistreated to the point you can't bear yet one more minute of it.
If someone truly knows he has done nothing to deserve the treatment of, say, the divorce court; and if he's angry because he believes the court system has disregarded his children's need to have him in their lives, and to be able to have a home to have them visit and one from which he can work - imagine how angry he must be. The person who wouldn't take his anger on the system out on any one individual, who doesn't want to do something criminal, but who is so angry he can't bear it and would like to kill himself; just may take a drink or use drugs to make things bearable. I can imagine something similar with a kid who has been abused at home and maybe in foster homes, who feels as if he wanted a different life but "the world" never gave him a chance.
I've actually wondered if some substance abusers have chosen to risk becoming addicted in a moment of unbearable anger; precisely because they did not want to kill themselves and did want to live - but "only had to get through that unbearable moment".
I really think a whole lot of homelessness and resulting addiction could be prevented if a) the court system stopped thinking that kids are "fine" if one parent is kicked to the curb, driven into poverty, and disregarded; and b) if there were even some kind of short-term, low-cost, loan available to kicked out fathers and/or homeless young people to help them get set up in an apartment and working. They could be expected to tell someone like a case manager how they were spending the money (or maybe the loan money could be sent by a case manager after approval). Re-payment could begin, say, 30 days after they began working; and maybe it could be arranged that the payment terms would be very reasonable.
Maybe the government could work with banks, rather than handing out tax-dollar loans. Maybe it could be the banks that offer a "case manager" for the processing of payments.
The point is, some people start out homeless as a result of no problems other than having no money; but then their situations spirals downward from there. They don't need or want welfare. If they had a place to live they could work. Everybody worries about fraud and taking advantage; and makes sure no needy person gets cash. As a result, free food and free medical care are what's offered. Government subsidized housing in awful neighborhoods (nobody wants to live in) has some ridiculous waiting list. In other words, for all the tax dollars that go to "assistance", none of them are of any real use to people who just left a home and need a few thousand dollars to get started in an apartment.
Wow Lisa, I really feel for you. It sounds like you have been in some tough situations with the courts regarding custody. I agree that some court systems are not that great at handling divorce and custody issues but I still don't see how an addictive person who blames all their circumstances on others should receive a low interest loan or grant for their housing and living expenses.
I personally witness single moms with more than 1 child working 1 or 2 very low paying jobs struggling to pay rent and living expenses. I am very compassionate about the homeless and have always done what I could for them, but when an alcoholic or drug addicted person refuses to go to rehabilitation,because he blames his addiction on his ex wife, the court system, and God know what else, and refuses to take any personal responsibility for being homeless, I have a big problem giving him my money. Some people would rather be homeless and beg for their basic living needs, than to admit that they have a problem and ultimately they themselves have caused their problems.
I know all this because I have personally witnessed it with people that I love and care about.
Almost everyone will hit a point in their lives during which they don't have adequate income to meet their needs. The only difference between homeless people and you and I is that they don't have family to pick up the slack, and government programs for the mentally ill and for persons in crisis have been slashed over the last 30 years.
Cheap government housing is not almost nonexistent. It didn't used to be like that, but now in the city where I grew up there is a two year waiting list and most of the time the waiting list is closed (as in, there's a waiting list for the waiting list).
If we decide that homelessness is a moral failing on the part of the homeless or a 'choice' or whatever, it won't change. Some people will always choose not to work--they will do that if there is cheap housing and if there isn't cheap housing. But most homeless people have serious problems or have hit a crisis that could be negotiated with help, but in the U.S. we don't help.
We have an epidemic of homeless people because we created one.
The thing is, I'm liberal as they come and agree with you over all. The odd thing was with my friend S., is that she really was choosing to be on the street. She could have gone home to Omaha and not be homeless, but that didn't interest her. She liked being in the city, sleeping on the NYU grounds, etc. I think it was a mental thing, definitely. But how to deal with that?
When I say I couldn't mention a job to her--I'm talking about a girl I grew up with who did go to college for a few years. You couldn't really mention any housing assistance, either--she preferred squatting with boyfriends/friends...
I believe as a society we have the responsibility to take care of the weak and most compromised. But how to attack the problem is another story. I find Pearldivers comments interesting here...
BTW, in the same city where I grew up homeless men are 'scrapping' to get cash--they pull pipes and copper wire out of vacant homes and factories, rendering the properties uninhabitable without major renovation. It's dangerous work because the value of the metal puts these men at risk for violent crime. The year we left South Bend (2007) two homeless men were found dead and stuffed down a manhole. It turned out they'd been murdered for their scrap metal while waiting in line to cash it out.
Here's another great true story:
First year up here in Kalamazoo a woman was found frozen to death on the courthouse steps on Christmas. (Sounds like Dickens doesn't it?) She was a former public schoolteacher who had developed schizophrenia and had to leave her job. Public resources for treatment were scant once her benefits ran out, and she stopped living indoors even though she did have a family. The couldn't manage her illness without help so they gave up. She lived in her car for about a year before dying of exposure.
I am really passionate about the homeless and have spent quite alot of time with them in a major city. I found that there are vastly different levels within that community, in regard to 'neediness' with a larger than expected % choosing to live on the streets (for whatever reason). I was really surprised as that was not a result of illness etc. It was considered to be for reasons of freedom. I was very worried a few months ago, when I was in a 12 month old internet relationship and she told me (hinted) that she was homeless. I never thought that I would ever find myself running away from caring for the homeless....
So I guess what I'm saying is, we could solve homelessness by housing these folks and getting them the help they need.
We used to do that. In my lifetime.
What irks me is Massachusetts and some Federal programs. I could write a book about the waste that goes on that nobody knows about because "everybody" seems to think it's "necessary". (I'm actually considering writing that book.) So, there's spending "zillions" on stuff that doesn't help anybody, which amounts to "zero improvement" in homelessness and poverty.
Then, on top of that, it's the schools and courts that create a lot of the problems anyway. So first they create the problems, and then they throw government cheese and counseling at them. I don't know how it is in other states, but in Massachusetts it's really bad.
Lita & Pearldiver,
I think you are both right, and Lisa HW is right too when she says that courts are ham handed and government programs waste money on the wrong things. I think it's all true, AND it's true that there are lots more involuntary homeless people.
It's weird because I've been thinking a lot about voluntary homelessness lately in relation to what feels to me like the "death of work" or some such thing--I've been thinking of writing about it. What I mean is, over the past 30 or 40 years the economy has become much more corporate, wages have declined, and many, many jobs aren't even 'real' in some sense. They're pure BS, low paid lying and abuse absorption.
What I mean is, look at your average corporate entry level job. I've had two in the past 8 years and I have two college degrees, a lifetime of work experience, some good skills in specific areas, and yet most of the jobs I've interviewed for and the only jobs I've been able to get amount to being a low-paid human shield for CEOs, absorbing customer rage and providing fake 'customer service' so management can go on making greedy bad decisions, providing lousy products and poor service, and basically raping their customers.
Well, who wants to look forward to a lifetime of THAT?
Not me. I've basically "dropped out" but because I have a partner with a real job I still live indoors and can work independently at home writing copy and whatnot. But many people I think have no such choices and so they do the 'drop out' part and end up on the streets, and it's STILL better than being in a corporate environment for them, because corporate environments really are that toxic.
I've been thinking about this a lot. It sounds like a joke, but I don't think it is.
I also think the dearth of mental health services makes it all worse. Used to be cheap or free and easy to get--now even people with good health insurance have trouble.
Yep, Pam. And you will be in good company writing that hub on 'the death of work.'
Have you seen this book?
I read it a few years ago. Rifkin is making a similar argument. That we have to redefine work as we know it.
What gets me (a little off subject) is that you are right--the corporate CEO's (SO MANY! I've found in my work history) are nothing but politic players (and not skillful ones, but those who wield pick axes) and it just gets so stupid sometimes. Any intelligent person would have trouble with the game because it is no longer rewarding the real work that most of us were taught as good little boys and girls to do. There is a serious disconnect.
Lita thank you for that link--I have not heard of that book but I will be running to the library today to look for it. I do see it happening before our eyes, same general idea.
I like Obama and do not regret voting for him, but I'm not happy with the giveaways to the financial sector. They've spent half a billion of our money (maybe more now) on bonuses after wrecking the country with this latest feeding frenzy. I still don't see why that money would not have been better spent at the bottom of the pyramid.
I live in San Diego and we have 7500 homeless peeps walking the streeets every day. Most of them are young but there is a group of mature persons. I would like the city to do a few things for the homeless:
Give them jobs in cleaning the streets and pay them for daily work.
Provide education and prevention treaatment for drugs and alcohol addiction.
Distribute portable potties and showers so they can keep clean.
Distribute food coupons for meals daily.
Provide alternative housing similar to welfare citizens.
HealthCare Basics, with due respect (and with the exception of making some toilets available), your thinking is the same thinking that many people in "the system" have. You're assuming that people without money need education. That's not always true. There are people like 50-year-old engineers being laid off these days, and they can't find work because nobody wants to pay them for their experience (and nobody believes them if they say they'd be happy with less). They can try to find minimum wage jobs at places like retail stores, but they hiring managers often don't believe they'll "be happy there" - and suspect they'll quit if they find their own kind of work in two weeks.
Assuming people can't be trusted with cash to get themselves a dollar cheeseburger and a cup of coffee is assuming that having no money means not being able to spend it wisely, not knowing enough to eat, or else "likely to spend it on cigarettes or alcohol instead". A lot of people would use the cash to buy their own lunch. Those who would feel as if they can "keep sane" if they smoke or drink are adults. If they know that's what will get them through another day, it isn't anyone's business.
Then there can be some guy who is grieving being separated from his kids, losing his house to divorce (and sometimes his belongings), and worried about what he can do about his kids. On top of all the grieving, loss, and stress; he may have been living on a cold street for a couple of weeks and struggling to eat and keep clean. He's wallowing in humiliation and sadness, and he's physically exhausted. He has committed no crime to receive this "sentence", so he's angry to the point of not being able to think clearly. This kind of stuff is just the immediate stuff that comes to mind. Chances are the emotional loss, stress, and physical toll on a person like this are a lot more than I can imagine.
So, after doing nothing but needing a divorce, this is what he "the system" has inflicted on him. Now, someone should give him a broom to sweep the streets? Why, instead, doesn't his wife have to sweep the streets for the privilege of not being kicked out of the house they both shared? Why don't the judges or lawyers who screw up, or the people who make laws that allow judges and lawyers do this to people, have to sweep the street? (In fact, why don't they have to sweet the Interstate highways at rush hour?)
If the laws allowed a guy like this to sue "the system" that so disregards his parental rights, right to justice, and whatever other rights get disregarded; he could sue, and he'd never be homeless.
Any married couple who have an income that won't comfortably support two homes can be at risk of this kind of thing if they have to get a divorce. Nobody tells them that going in. Nobody plans it. It just ends up happening that way.
If it's not the divorced guy, it could be a young person who left a home where there was terrible physical or sexual abuse. If they're over 18 they can't be put in foster care, and if they're under 18 they sometimes end up in worse foster care situations than their own homes were. So they leave and find themselves dealing with a different kind of predator. Again, this is "punishment" for being a victim of abuse? Give someone who has been victimized over and over again a broom and tell them to sweep the streets? I don't think so. If "the system" can't or won't help people like this, the least we should expect is that it doesn't add on yet more cruelty.
Would sweeping the streets be cruel to, say, me, right now? No. I'm fine. It wouldn't be a big deal. For someone who has been so beaten up (sometimes all their life or else in ways many of us couldn't imagine), expecting something "out of them" is just cruel and too much.
I think if someone chooses the "freedom" of living in the streets that's his business. Some people just want the freedom. Others may say they want the freedom as compared to what goes on in shelters. As far as those who didn't choose homelessness go, though, it's an awful thing that people have a tendency to slip into talking about homeless people as if they're the problem, rather than as if homelessness, itself; and the failures of "the system" are the problems.
People living on the streets may look like "hopeless causes" after life has done a big enough job on them long enough. Nobody starts out living in the streets, though, and preventing that kind of damage to people could be done if the right people recognized how to "nip it in the bud" with (sometimes) just a little money when the crisis is new.
"As far as those who didn't choose homelessness go, though, it's an awful thing that people have a tendency to slip into talking about homeless people as if they're the problem, rather than as if homelessness, itself; and the failures of "the system" are the problems."
I agree. We have, basically, no social safety net at all. None. Nada. Zip. Most people are exactly one lost job and six missed mortgage payments away from the streets.
I find it massively aggravating that we have all this vacant housing that won't sell at any price alongside all these homeless. Doesn't that bother anyone? It's as if we had so much surplus food we couldn't throw it away fast enough, yet a significant segment of our population was starving.
I'm starting to see people who are 70+ working in big box stores. I think they should have these jobs if they want them and I'm sure they do them excellently, but I question whether they really want them. How long before we have people dropping dead while they ring up our Chardonnay.
Man, this is a rough transition. It think it's gonna get rougher.
Whoever said homelessness was a problem? These persons are filling a sociological demographic that others do not fill (for whatever their reasons may be), and thus these people fill this niche for whatever reasons that may be (involuntarily or not).
There will be people in every sociological niche within any form of known government (through the lens of current civilization [last 10,000 years]).
I recommend just dealing with that idea, there will be a floating percentage of homelessness, always--like unemployment (a healthy rate is 3-5%), there will be a "healthy" percentage of persons within that demographic.
Homelessness is a side effect of our current form of civilization, it simply needs to be accepted. Some people follow the easiest paths, and I know plenty of people who chose that path for it's simplistic, "easy" lifestyle.
You know, Direxmd, that I appreciate your opinions...and I do believe you are partially correct, given my experience with my friend, ie (don't know about the percentage, however. I'd wager it should be lower).
However, homelessness IS a problem. Of course, in the common bleeding heart liberal sense, it is a humanitarian problem--absolutely. But it is also a blight on our cities. Take San Francisco, as an example. As a tax paying citizen, do you want to walk down streets that smell like urine with homeless men and women sleeping in doorways, begging at every opportunity? It's not a good economic incentive, for one, to go all free enterprise on it.
I cannot accept it from a humanitarian view point OR from the selfishy/middle class part of me that wants to have a pleasant time when I go for a weekend in one of my favorite cities.
To those who question the term 'problem of the homeless,' I would point out that THE PROBLEM is at least being discussed, by those who would care to post (and those who are likely to be active in support/help in someway, I'd imagine, too). The rest of this point is only one of semantics, perhaps as used here-- which is, , as I'm learning my logical fallacies--a non sequitur that we liberals are likely to employ when it suits our rhetoric, too.
IE, I grew up very much knowing what it would be like if somebody lost a job--there was always the consciousness that one could be out on the street if fortune frowned just a little bit. I'm aware it is a 'human' problem. I also don't much cotton to rambling drunken men accosting a person in front of her hotel--after you have given them money, repeating over and over, "Look at you look at you, look at me look at me, I am human, I am human!" A bit much to take and a little out of my purview.
I understand completely, I lived in Sonoma County my whole life--I've been to San Francisco 60-70 times. The incentive to become homeless is too great for some, I know many and I know why they live the lives they choose to live. With that said, many choose not to live such a life. Sure, you might find it unpleasant to look at or view, but quite frankly--that is your issue, not theirs. They will come to you if you need help. No need to condemn the socio-economic niche to being a 'blight' on the clean streets that you hold so dear. Those very streets do have enough room for the 'undesirables'.
These people are not in the niche they are by divine cause, and they don't need saving. They will climb out of the niche if they so choose. May your kindness not be misplaced
No matter what, you can never remove the undesirables from your community if they choose to be there, only by force can you do so--and that is not the answer.
Direxmd that "healthy" 3-5% unemployment rate (much higher these days) is not a natural thing, it is maintained by governments in the western world as a measure to control inflation. I haven't agreed with it since I read a macro economics manual about 15 years ago. There is another way to control inflation, price control. By maintaining the unemployment rate to a certain level governments feel they are controlling the wages corporations have to pay their employees thus in turn keeping the cost of goods and services down (because there is always someone else to take the job). But this idea does not take into account corporate greed, which we have all seen way too much of these days.
On top of this is the fact the unemployment rate is just measured by the amount of people that are collecting unemployment insurance. It does not take into account those that have had their unemployment insurance run out and are on social assistance. So in reality the unemployment rate is much higher than what is being reported.
Because governments maintain the unemployment rate why are the unemployed being punished? In reality the rest of society is benefiting on the backs of the unemployed, at least according to our governments, because they help control inflation.
I think the previous posts have mentioned just about every reason why people become homeless. One more that I would like to add are people that suffer work related accidents that do not get compensated for one reason or another.
Homelessness is a serious issue that I believe could be fixed if there was just a little bit of empathy in our government leaders. Prior to getting elected I remember Obama promising that he would fix the financial meltdown from the bottom up. It doesn't look like that now. Don't get me wrong, I think another Republican government would have been worse.
You know, I had to think about what you said here...and I'm finally thinking your argument is something of a turnabout on a humanitarian take. Also kind of a (perhaps) unjustified/misplaced attack on what is seen as a traditional liberal philosophy.
And I'm not sure that is where I'm coming from frankly, at all, even thought that is usually where I end up. I come from the perspective that underneath everything, there are certain universals that are shared among all of us--as we breathe the same air, need to eat, etc., etc....Or even going so far as to say I "hold these truths to be self evident..." which individualists and constitutional types don't want to believe may be a part of our values, but I'd argue that it is. Would find agreement, too.
And there is the fact that the city of San Francisco would agree with me (honestly, you don't see this type of homelessness rampant in a city like New York...there are some people, but not like that. I had actually heard Giuliani kicked butt and cleaned it all up.). The fact is these 'undesirables' (not my word--but, lol, I'll take it on as maybe a typical spoiled middle class liberal bleeding heart who likes to complain, or maybe as a notorious Christian-like do-gooder who wants to 'save'--both of which I am not) do cause risks to other citizens--among them health and safety risks.
Another thing I'd say is that can you imagine using the "the fact that it is undesirable or obnoxious to you is your own problem," theory/argument in other analogous instances? You find huge potholes in the street in front of your house obnoxious. That's your problem. You find the fact that 1 out of every 2 kids are graduating high school without knowing how to read unpleasant. That's your problem.
You see this is where the--dare I say 'conservative' to you, Direxmd?--conservative view point on social issues does not follow. Even if they (or you) ever even thought we went that way? Sometimes I doubt it...as the words at times seem so pre-packaged.
I could see some homeless people in warmer climates like Sonoma County choosing that lifestyle until they come around. But I kind of doubt it further north though, especially in the winter. I heard they avoid the shelters because of the unsavory characters they meet and possibly bugs and diseases. Even tuberculosis being spread in some shelters I've heard. In some northern climates the homeless don't seem to have much of an option.
Yeah, this is an issue I think it sounds like we agree on, MM. And absolutely some people are choosing homelessness. I'd probably say this is due to mental problems or substance abuse more than anything, however... And yeah, I'm thinking shelters are not the answers.
You know, I'm recalling this documentary I saw of people living below the (was it?) the NYC subway system--how they made this area into homes--actually built 'houses,' etc...portraits/how they got there. Fast forward later on--many were accepted into housing programs (regular, small apartments) and couldn't believe they had lived the way they had been living and had let themselves get there.
I guess ultimately I'm saying we should give and pay for their living quarters--that minimum amount of assistance should be given by our society for the good of all involved.
Yeah for not just the homeless either. We'd all benefit.
I remember hearing of a story similar to that in Toronto too, where a small homeless subdivision had sprung up down by the lake shore somewhere. They were basically taking care of and helping each other because they weren't getting any help elsewhere. They made huts from what they found. The police finally moved them all out but there was such an uproar about it I think they found housing for them. That was a few years ago.
Lita did you know that one of the regulars around here, Sandra Rinck has written and sings a song about the homeless titled 'Open your eyes'? I thought it was so good I had to post it to my forum with the lyrics, Open your eyes
interesting you ask, I wrote a hub recently on this, I feel that as a society we don't need to judge and we don't need to be apathetic...
So basically you are saying in your last para Lita, that you have a heart, and LDT and myself (cause I am pretty much in agreement with him on this issue) don't.
Did I understand you correctly?
Well, to be honest, I think it is about identity politics with you guys... Pam has said this before. I second her notion.
Do you have a close friend/relative who is homeless or have dealt with it? If not, I don't suppose it is a real life issue for you.
Do you want to be confused, ?
I'm saying when somebody takes on an ideology so that if effects everything they say--they identify with that ideology so much--it becomes something of an identity. Pam hasn't related this to you? I'm sure she has. So it really doesn't have anything to do with your heart, per se...especially probably to some on the internet.
And if you have not had a homeless friend or relative (or worked with homeless people), I don't think you know about the whole situation in a real-life way, right? It's more theory, then.
The problem is homeless people can not get a job, they can not get a house, they can not get any benefits, the problem with homeless people is being homeless itself.
Anything you do in life requires an address, so homeless people have very little chance of ever getting back on their feet, well not without help.
I think government should supply mail boxes for homeless people. with an address where they can have mail sent to.
I was thinking of suggest this idea to my local mp as we suffer with many homeless issues. I Just never looked into it further and sort of forgot about it until now.
I think mail boxes would help many thousands of homeless people get back on their feet.
Ah, OK, next time Lita when you post your opinion on child abuse in Macrenia, I will make sure that you have kids and know at least one Macrenian, before taking your opinion seriously - just to make sure that it is not a pure ideology
That's not what I mean. And some recognize when they speak from an ideological sense as opposed to one based in experience. But if you WANT to take offense, then I suppose, you can, Misha.
I do find it odd that you would want to have this kind of conversation with someone whose high school friend just died on the streets.
We already established that I don't have heart Lita, that's why
And no, I don't take offense, I am just trying to understand how people come to the conclusions like yours
Recognizing that you have a case of identity politics is not the same as saying you do not have a heart, Misha.
But I do come to the conclusion that you want to take offense. Sorry, , not going to let a nice guy somewhere in there continue on this track.
just kiss and make up you guys, bad vibes on the forum is not welcome. Just agree to disagree. then go kick the cat! LOL
She WAS bullied in high school, yes. But too old to be a runaway, And her parents loved her, but there were issues there... She also had problems with men, basically, mistreating her.
It was complicated. I have two sisters...I know to some extent some of the problems that effect women. S. could never see past some things she should have... To those who think prostitution is fine and dandy (and I don't know what I think--probably it should be legalized),there is another side to it.
runaways can be of any age, I watched a documentary a few nights ago on people who was mistreated at a young age, whether this be bullied at school or home, the affect this has on the future life of the bullied is devastating.
I would suggest trying to get her to a psychiatrist, she may have things stuck in her head stuff she would never tell anyone. A good psychiatrist would help or a few hypnosis sessions would help get to the bottom of her problems.
I think she was not loved and found love on the streets. the homeless community is so tight, like one big family. Maybe this is what she likes.
I have to go now, you take care Lita, and I hope your friend gets better soon.
But too late for her. You probably didn't see it when I said she died last week....Thanks anyway.
Thanks...it's OK. I think I went through being upset a couple years ago when I was trying to track her down. Her family had lost contact with her much of the time by then. It was kind of expected....
The USA helps out other countries financially.
The USA sends soldiers to other countries for aid and support.
The USA outsources much of its work to other countries.
The USA should financially support its own country first.
The USA should stop sending soldiers to support other countries.
The USA needs to keep its jobs in its own country.
It really sickens me that our men and women who serve their country, the United States of America, who return from duty physically maimed, and who also return from duty mentally tormented for the rest of their lives from such illnesses as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, are treated with such disrespect as to be left homeless on the streets.
These soldiers, living on the streets, have not only had their dignity stripped away from them, but they have had their entire lives ruined and destroyed upon returning from war.
These soldiers should be returning to the United States with the best medical care we can offer them. These soldiers should have, in my opinion, a penthouse suite and a warm welcome waiting for them upon returning from war.
The United States wastes so much money on ridiculous things, too numerous to mention, yet it will not even take care of its own kind, the very men and women who put all their blood, sweat, and tears into serving their own country.
Our government, instead, has forced these men and women to succumb to living homeless in the streets and on the very grounds of the country they fought so hard for in the first place.
Welcome to the United States - the land of opportunity.
I think not!
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Just saw this in the new layout! So exciting! Wish I could sign up but can't right now - not enough time to do a good job. But does anyone know how to find out how long the waiting list is already?
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What can you do to help the problem of homelessness.Help for the homeless or downtrodden in a troubled economy. Please see my hub Help me I,m homeless
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