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[Commentary] © 2002 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire™, Box 622 Cambridge MA 02143 USA (617) 623-8080

Homelessness Stories, Jan-May/2002


5/25/2002  2 homelessness stories -

  1. Homeless no more - Group has helped 1,400 turn around their lives and buy their own shelter, by Teri Borseti, BG, D11.
    ...Last week, 250-300 Boston-area realtors, real estate lawyers, appraisers, developers, and inspectors paid $35 to attend HomeStart's 2nd annual cocktail reception and silent auction in Boston MA.
    [Well well, this organization has made a breakthrough - they've identified a well-heeled constituency with a self-interest in solving homelessness - presumably because of the devastating effect the homeless have on property values.]
    Guests mingled over cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and heard testimonials from clients whose lives have changed with HomeStart's help. The elegant fundraiser brought in about $30,000.
    [Which was probably more than eaten up in staff time planning it. Compare gov. candidate Mitt Romney's recent fundraiser which netted him $50,000 plus $300,000 for the Mass. GOP, despite their circular firing squad of the last few years.]
    With an annual budget of $1.6m, the organization relies on state and federal funding, but raises about $250,000 a year from individuals, foundations, and events..\.. HomeStart seeks HUD subsidies and helps with move-in costs. Its New Frontiers program uses a rental fund to provide a monthly stipend for one year.
    ..\..About 1,400 people [have been] assisted by HomeStart since it was founded in 1994. "Local shelters were just overwhelmed trying to get jobs for large numbers of homeless people in recovery or with mental illnesses," said Linda Wood-Boyle, executive director.
    [Well as far as that goes, local shelters are still overwhelmed but now with just trying to shelter the skyrocketting numbers of homeless, never mind with getting them jobs! See stories below.]
    "They just didn't have the capacity of resources to help them find housing.... That's when HomeStart was formed with 3 employees and a HUD pilot grant for a little over $400,000. Today we have a staff of 31."
    The primary goal of the nonprofit organization, which has offices in Boston at 105 Chauncy St. and in Cambridge MA at 678 Mass. Ave., is to find affordable apartments for the homeless. Wood-Boyle said 81% of the people placed in housing are still housed a year later. Clients come from shelters like Rosie's Place and the Pine Street Inn.... Last year, 138 (62%) moved to Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan, or the South End, Wood-Boyle said.... HomeStart spent $138,372 to help [them]; 69% had monthly income of less than $1,300..\..
    The group also provides "stabilization services," which include workshops and 1-on-1 assistance in choosing a bank, creating a budget, and repairing or establishing credit. \Housing resources manager\ Charlie Cirrone...even helped [one person] with child-custody issues.... "We are ending homelessness one person at a time," said Wood-Boyle.
    [At that rate, they will never end it, because it's being created by the ongoing global downsizing response to efficient technology at a much faster speed. The Timesizing.com approach ends homelessness at a rate of millions of persons at a time by reversing the general modus operandi of economies from running on a shortage of jobs and training and particular skills, to running on a general shortage of labor. Again (see 5/23 below), we repeat Art Dahlberg's words of 1932, "The evils of Capitalism [are] basically rooted in the public's failure to appreciably shorten the hours of labor while labor-saving machinery [is] being injected; i.e...these evils [are] due to the public's failure, from the very beginning of the industrial revolution, to make Capitalism operate under a genuine scarcity of labor-hours, rather than a chronic scarcity of job and business opportunity." The essential design flaw in our economy is that we have not yet implemented an automatic mechanism for smoothy transforming the huge productivity leaps and work savings of technology into financially secure free time for everyone. The Timesizing program changes all that and gets us to the advanced stage where we should be at the dawn of the Third Millennium.]

  2. [and there's a neighboring article -]
    Birdhouse sales will help the homeless, by Thomas Grillo, BG, D11.
    [As "Big J" said, "The foxes have dens and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man hath not where to lay his head." Matt.8:20.]
    Boston-area design firms have created birdhouses to be auctioned off to support Shelter Inc. The event, "Birdhouses and Other Flights of Fancy," will be Thursday [May 30?] at 5:30 pm at the Castle at Park Plaza, 64 Arlington St., Boston MA.   Shelter Inc. and its affiliate Family Life Education Inc. serve more than 2800 people annually, providing the homeless with shelter and job assistance.

5/24/2002  1 homelessness story - 5/23/2002  1 homelessness story - 5/16/2002  1 homelessness story - 5/01/2002  1 homelessness story - 4/15/2002  1 homelessness story - 3/30/2002  2 homelessness stories -
  1. Homeless ranks may grow due to state budget cuts - Their shift to shelters may cost more money -State budget cuts may force evictions of 400, by Chris Tangney, BG, B1.
    Just as the number of homeless families in Massachusetts levels off, officials say, the state budget crunch could force as many as 400 families from their homes in the next month. And they warn that another 1,400 families face eviction by the end of June if the department can't come up with $2.2m for a homeless prevention program....
    The number of homeless families statewide has remained steady for the last three months, the first quarter that figures have not risen in more than two years. Last year, the number of homeless families increased by 20%, according to the Mass. Coalition for the Homeless, and there are currently 1,300 families housed nightly by the Dept. of Transitional Assistance [DTA]....
    Once evicted, many families stay with relatives or friends, but at least 25% will wind up homeless, according to..\..Dick Powers, spokesman for the DTA.... In most cases, children have to leave their friends and teachers and are often forced to move three or four times before they find new housing, an unsettling prospect for a parent and a potentially traumatic experience for a child....
    The department's budget deficit will also result in cuts to two other programs that provide emergency assistance to low-income elderly people and that provide food stamps to immigrants.
    [The phenomenon of admitting immigrants who are not self-supporting or accountably financially sponsored is a recent and strange innovation in American history, having developed only in the last half century.]
    "These cuts create the classic scenario of people with low income being forced to choose between 'heat of eat,'" said Pat Baker, senior policy analyst at the Mass. Law Reform Institute.

  2. County tells panhandlers to pitch woes elsewhere - A Colorado dispute over beggars, drunks and rights, by Michael Janofsky, NYT, A11.
    HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo...- The rolling hills here south of Denver are saturated with pricey new subdivisions and huge shopping malls, shining testimony to the soaring growth of Douglas County. Between 1990 and 2000, its population nearly doubled, to 175,766, for a 191% increase, the highest change of any county in the country. [It] has become a bedroom community for...two cities [Denver and Colorado Springs], attracting thousands of affluent families drawn to the easy lifestyle of the West.... The average household income of just above $100,000 is the highest of any county in Colorado..\..
    The new affluence has [been] notice[d by] panhandlers who have found places like Denver too competitive or inhospitable..\.. Richard Larsen, Rick Shaw and James Guschi are three of the newly arrived.... Working the broad intersections of a major state highway with tattered cardboard signs that ask for help, they [take in] as much as $70 on a good day....
    [The NYT should know that the word "earn" is only correct in the context of work. Bad editing, or is Political Correctness muddying yet another area now that illegal aliens are supposed to have the right to vote?]
    For Mr. Larsen, a homeless man from Detroit who spends his nights along the Platte River in Denver - he has been commuting to Douglas County by public bus -...with his cardboard sign that says, "Homeless Vet. Thanks for Any Support. God Bless You"..\..
    But...responding to a rising number of complaints about drunkenness and blocked traffic caused by panhandlers, the county commission on Wednesday passed by unanimous vote, 3 to 0, an ordinance that would outlaw solicitation of public streets. ...Said Lt. Brad Heyden of the Douglas County Sheriff's Dept..., "Usually it's during rush hours, but now it's at all hours"..\..
    Under the new measure, which goes into effect next month after a 30-day grace period, a first offence prompts a warning, the second a fine of $100.
    [A "fine" for people with no money? Brilliant.]
    ...[The] law...also curtail[s] collections by church and civic groups that often work the [intersections] for charity drives. So far, none of [them has] complained. But...Mr. Larsen...said "What upsets me is that they think we're all drunks.... It's not like I love doing this..\.. If I could find something else to do, I would do it...."
    [It all comes down to jobs. And a nation that keeps introducing worksaving technology. And a workweek that despite over 100 years of previous decreases, has been frozen at the same arbitrary level for the last 62 years. And an economics profession that functions merely as technical backup for management schools and has consequently made only trivial contributions to human progress since endorsing FDR's big mistake in 1933. We're still pursuing makework instead of sharework.]
3/26/2002  1 homelessness item - 3/20/2002  1 homelessness item - 3/18/2002  4 letters on homelessness - On the streets, without a home, letters to editor, NYT, A26, re "Ending Chronic Homelessness," (editorial, Mar. 13) [see 3/13/2002 below].
  1. By Dr. Henry Shenkin of Haverford, Pa.
    [A good quick summary of how America got its current record homelessness -]
    The increased number of homeless has been directly related to the policy of deinstitutionalization initiated four decades ago at the behest of civil libertarians who believed that patients were confined to mental institutions against their will.
    [The "Uncle Tom's Cabin" of this movement was probably Ken Keesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Again, "the way to hell is paved with good intentions"?]
    Politicians were only too happy to accept such a policy, which helped to reduce the states' budgetary, and therefore their taxation, needs. Patients' families were mobilized (abetted by their shame) to sponsor the campaign, only to realize after the release of their relatives that they could not live with them. With only inadequate outpatient care available, the former inpatients were pushed out into homelessness on the streets.

  2. By Pres. Arnold Cohen of Partnership for Homeless, NYC.
    [Arnold mentions affordable housing, mental health and substance abuse treatment and then says -]
    ...But if we are going to genuinely solve "chronic homelessness," we must also address the broader issues of poverty and economic injustice. Access to quality health care and education, real skill building and job training, and a living wage are all required if we are trully to lift people out of homelessness permanently.
    [Again, the random grocery-list approach so beloved by liberals, and again, it falls right into G.K Chesterton's pan-utopian trap - "The weakness of all Utopias is this, that they take the greatest difficulty of man and assume it to be overcome, and then give an elaborate account of the overcoming of the smaller ones. They first assume that no man will want more than his share, and then are very ingenious in explaining whether his share will be delivered by motorcar or balloon." Indeed, Arnie talks all around jobs without actually mentioning them, let alone mentioning the need to share the vanishing work. He speaks of job training for non-existent jobs, and living wages from non-existent jobs, but breathes not a word of the jobs themselves, or where they're to come from. Ah liberalism, thy name is Impotence.]

  3. By Heather Barr of Urban Justice Center.
    [Heather just calls for "supportive housing" and, believe it or not, praises Bush.]

  4. By Exec. Dir. Vivian Ehrlich of Dorot homelessness prevention, NYC.
    [Vivian calls the elderly the "invisible homeless."]

3/13/2002  2 homelessness items -
  1. Ending chronic homelessness, editorial, NYT, A26.
    [Watch. The Times editors are going to make the usual WRONG assumption that homelessness is a matter of lack of low-cost housing rather than secure jobs with good pay.]
    ...The solution, based on recent research and pilot programs, centers on 2 approaches.
    1. ...The development of "supported" housing, meaning shelters that include treatment.
      [What did we tell you. Never mind the nationwide labor surplus and job shortage (at the 1940 40-hour workweek level) that generates low pay and high anxiety. Leave that yawning imbalance untouched at the center of the economy and keep running around everywhere but the center trying to adjust the balance. Build special housing ("shelters"), hire hapless social workers to try to explain your stupid blindness to those it's driven insane ("treatment") and charge it all to the taxpayer.]
    2. ...Monitor people being released from prisons, mental institutions and drug treatment centers to make sure they don't wind up sleeping on the streets.
      [Well, let's see. We've got 2,000,000 people in prison. Could be an awful lot get released each month. Half our mental institutions and drug treatment centers have already been closed down so it's too late for them. But it does sound like a LOT of monitoring. Sounds Orwellian. Why not just fix the problem in the middle - convert overtime automatically to training and hiring and if that doesn't create a strong enough demand to draw all our unemployed, welfare, "disabled," and homeless, "mentally ill," and "criminal" population back into the job market, gradually CUT THE WORKWEEK and make it as easy as it should be at the dawn of the Third Millennium at our high levels of worksaving technology and robotization to make a very very good living. And by the way, LOSE the criminalization of "drugs" and just tax them for their social costs as we more or less have started doing with nicotine and alcohol.]
    The money is there.
    [Oh yeah? Where - when you refuse to tax those who have it in unspendable profusion, and even if you do, you're just generating and perpetuating dependency.]
    The ideas are there.
    [You call these "ideas"?!   We call them more of the same pathetic government micromanagement we've had for the past 69 years ever since we chose job creation instead of work sharing. The job creation at the arbitrary 40-hour level was always too little too late - UNLESS...we militarized. So your "ideas" are leaving us with the unspoken but very real military "solution." It solved the Great Depression finally after Pearl Harbor in 1941. Our military-industrial complex has "solved" every recession since then with recent help from our new prison-industrial complex. And now Bushbrain is trying to solve it by a drug "war," a "war" on terrorism, $3½ billion a year "foreign aid" in hopes that the Israel-Palestine carnage will escalate into a full-scale war, threats of dysinformation and pre-emptive nuclear war against a list of "dangerous" little non-nuclear nations. Brilliant? Actually nothing different from what we've always done when we didn't keep the government creation of jobs up with the demand for them.]
    Success will depend on breaking down walls within the federal government and between Washington, states and cities....
    [The hackneyed macho rhetoric of evermore impotent micromanagement. If and when the great minds of the NYT finally really want to solve homelessness, they will advocate dropping our current insane combination of private-sector downsizing and public-sector upsizing and just share the vanishing market-demanded employment for human beings in an age that's spreading automata, robots and nanotechnology everywhere.]

  2. Hit-and-run victim died within hours, Texas official says, AP via NYT, A16.
    [This is the one about some dumb woman who somehow managed to crash into a homeless man hard enough for him to bust through her windshield with his head, which then became caught there, with him hemorrhaging profusely and begging her to help him.]
    FORT WORTH...- The local medical examiner said [yester]day that a homeless man who became lodged in the windshield of a car that hit him probably lived just a few hours, not a few days as the police had estimated.
    [Big diff. In a spot like that, hours can seem days.]
    The Tarrant County medical examiner, Dr. Nizam Peerwani, said the injuries to the man, Gregory Biggs, included the near amputation of his left leg, suggesting that he quickly died from blood loss....
    The driver of the car, Chante Mallard, 25, is in the country jail, charged with failing to help Mr. Biggs after hitting him.
    [If she nearly amputated his leg before crashing his head through her windshield, she did more than just hit him once.]
    On Monday, Judge James Wilson of State District Court sealed a confession in which Ms. Mallard said that after drinking and taking the drug Ecstasy, she struck Mr. Biggs, 37, and then drove home with him stuck in her windshield. The police say he died in her garage.... Ms. Mallard told the police that she hit Mr. Biggs in the early hours of Oct. 26, the day before his body was discovered at a park..\..
    ...An informer...told investigators that she overheard Ms. Mallard talking about the "accident" [our quotes - ed.] last month at a party....
    [Yet another weird risk in the "carefree" life of the homeless?]

3/11/2002  1 weekend homelessness story - 3/06/2002  1 homelessness story - 3/04/2002  1 weekend homelessness story - 2/25/2002  1 homelessness story - 1/30/2002  1 homelessness story - 1/25/2002  2 homelessness stories -
  1. Missouri: Rise in the homeless, by Elizabeth Stanton, NYT, A19.
    ...42% over the last 3 years, according to a study by the Missouri Assoc. for Social Welfare. The study found that St. Louis and its neighboring counties led the state, with a 69% increase from 1998 to 2001. The Assoc. asked shelters across the state to record the number of people they served on 2 specific days last year [and found] a daily average 16,425 people used the shelters.

  2. Homeless in California, letter to editor by Policy Dir. Rebecca Vilkomerson of San Francisco, NYT, A22.
    Re "In famously tolerant city, impatience with homeless" (news article, Jan. 18 [see below]):
    Approximately 40% of San Francisco's homeless people are members of families with children. There are currently 150 families on the waiting list for emergency shelter. While our politicians want to criminalize homelessness, homeless people can hardly be expected to use shelters that don't exist.
    The pool of subsidized housing shrinks every year, jobs are disappearing and welfare time limits are setting in. As the social safety net disintegrates...
    [No, "as we dismantle the social safety net" - without a better alternative in place!]
    families lose their housing. We see young children and their parents in this situation every day at our organization.
    [After the babyboomers hit the job market around 1970 and wages started to stagnate, it only took 10 years for stressed voters to begin expressing their fear and defensiveness by jumping into fundamentalist religions and voting for "tough on crime" "tough on unemployment" politicians like Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush. That's already turning our Great Society into our Sad Society.]
    Rather than sweeping people out of sight, we need to focus on permanent solutions at the federal and local level, starting with safe, affordable housing.
    [No, starting with plentiful on-the-job training and good jobs. Too many progressives start with side issues - housing, health insurance, childcare, sexism, racism - ignoring the central issue - employment. Mounting numbers of dependent people in low-cost housing is not a sustainable or permanent solution. For sustainability, it all comes down to jobs.]

1/20/2002  1 weekend homelessness story - 1/19/2002  1 homelessness story - 1/18/2002  1 homelessness story - 1/16/2002  1 homelessness story - 1/12/2002  1 homelessness story - 1/11/2002  1 homelessness story - 1/05/2002  1 homelessness story - 1/02/2002  1 homelessness story - For earlier homelessness stories, click on the desired date -
  • Oct-Dec/2001.
  • Jan-Sep/2001.
  • Dec/2000 & earlier.

    For more details, see our campaign piece Timesizing, Not Downsizing, which is available online from *Amazon.com and at the Harvard Coop (3rd floor) in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass. 02138

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