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[Commentary] © 2002 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622 Cambridge MA 02143 USA (617) 623-8080
Homelessness Stories, Oct-Dec/2002
12/24/2002 homelessness in the news - get out your hankies, the New York Times treats us to 2 stories on homelessness this Xmas Eve -
12/21/2002 homelessness in the news -
- 'Temporary' homeless plan keeps growing in New York, by Leslie Kaufman, NYT, front page.
A city program to hose homeless families temporarily in individual apartments across New York, begun as an emergency program two years ago, has ballooned to involve more than 2,000 apartments that now accommodate roughly a quarter of the city's homeless families. The program, which city officials themselves admit is flawed, has cost the city tens of millions of dollars and placed scores of families in buildings with histories of violations for dangerous conditions.
As a result, a city government that is facing its worst fiscal crisis in 3 decades is paying, on average, $2,900 a month to house and provide for individual families, and has spent $33 million on the program just since July.
And because the city treats the program as an emergency effort, it has, over the years, lightly examined the qualifications of the landlords and agents with whom it has contracted to house the families. As a result, some of the buildings in the program have been repeatedly cited for rat infestation and peeling paint.
[Lead paint?? That would sure make it a bonus point, but here's a pretty good one anyway -]
One complex of buildings, where the city houses 262 families, had so many violations that the courts placed it in receivership.
Further, because the city pays for some renovations to the apartments used by the homeless families, the program has angered other tenants,
[and you can bet this ain't the only reason]
who complain that the landlords have used little of their windfall to improve conditions in any other apartments.
[And why should they - they're not getting paid for that. But it does kinda wipe the traditional American&global incentive to support yourself and be independent when you're a struggling working family and a complete bathroom renovation has just been done for the completely unemployed, erstwhile homeless family next door while your W.C. still looks like a war zone.]
City officials concede the program must be ended - they admit that it is too costly, and that it fails to offer the families the intensive help they need - but have, to date, been unable to halt its growth....
[or come up with an alternative. We swear, there are so many crises breeding in this "Richest Nation in the World" dba "Land of Opportunity" (hohoho) that the only intelligent answer to any of them is Timesizing. Cut all the crap about "the wealthy's money works just as hard as the poor's" and "technology creates more jobs than it destroys" and "the majority of Americans own stocks" (heard that ringer just today on NPR) and "work hard to get ahead" (even if competition with robotization has you going all the way back to totaling workweeks that haven't been seen since 1840 except in the American "health" care professions - and just SHARE THE VANISHING WORK.]
- Homeless children: The trauma of separation, letter to editor by Sarah B. Greenblatt of New Haven CT, NYT, A24.
A significant proportion of NYC's homeless shelter population includes families with children. Mayors from other big cities are calling for better shelters and services for the homeless (news article, Dec. 18).
In contrast, Mayor Michael Bloomberg [of NYC] has proposed that homeless families deemed out of compliance with housing search requirements and shelter rules be ejected from shelters for a minimum of 30 days, and that children of these families be separated from their parents through a form of short-term foster care.
[Wonder how many centuries - or decades? - it will be before overpopulation and persistent recession forces nations to routinely break up non-self-supporting families, put all up for adoption including the adults, and reversibly (surgically only) sterilize non-self-supporting adults. The extended-bandaid route we're going is certainly leading to this "brave" new world.]
As a social worker who has worked with the homeless, I have seen how keeping families together is critical to children's ability to adjust to highly stressful living circumstances.
The trauma of removing children from their families can cause irreparable harm to their growth and development and result in high expenditures for the city's health, education and child welfare systems for years to come.
[Not to mention for the city, state and federal prison systems for decades to come. It's going to take something quite different from "better shelters and services for the homeless" = more and bigger unsustainable bandaids - to solve this problem. It's going to take cutting the bandaids and fixing the problem at its source = we have an arbitrary 40-hour workweek which was, by historical accident, frozen at that level 63 years ago after over a century and a half of sporadic reduction. Now it totally, but TOTALLY, out of sinc with our high levels of worksaving technology and of population inputs into the job market. We need to move swiftly to a workweek that slowly but automatically adjusts to our rising technology and population levels, and an overtime design that automatically filters out the overwork that is just being done for the money and transforms it into training and hiring.]
12/18/2002 homelessness in the news -
- Bloomberg, with year inside, shows what outsiders can do, by Jennifer Steinhauer, NYT, front page.
...Owing nothing to social policy advocates..\..Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire entrepreneur who squeaked into office with no government experience or clear base of political support...placed homeless families in a former jail and refused to move them even in the face of a political storm.
[Hmm, we thought he moved them. In our copious spare time, we will search the files below. Haha.]
Now he is exploring turning cruise ships into shelters....
[Healthy cruise ships or sick ones? Out-of-use cruise ships (like the unused jail he used for the homeless) might be out-of-use because they had experienced a high incidence of passenger and crew illness such as has become more frequent lately.]
12/07-09/2002 homelessness in the news -
- Mayors-report requests for food and shelter are up - Federal focus on terror threat reduces aid - A slow economy and rising costs increase demands on the nation's cities, by Elizabeth Becker, NYT, A18.
WASHINGTON...- The nation's mayors said [yester]day that this year had brought the largest increase in demand for emergency shelter in a decade, a result of a sluggish economy and the rising cost of housing and health care.... In the survey, to be released Wed., the US Conference of Mayors reported that the demand for food aid rose throughout the country by 19%, with working families topping the list of the most needy..\..
[As long as the centripetal forces on income in the nation overwhelm the centrifugal forces, whether or not the underclass works or not matters little - they'll still starve.]
And the[ mayors] said requests for food aid were second only to the peak year 2001, underscoring what they called a crisis in helping the needy.... The demand for emergency shelter was more varied, with St. Louis reporting the greatest increase - 64% - while the overall average was also 19%.
More worrisome, the mayors said, is the growing evidence that the lack of food and adequate shelter for the working poor is becoming an endemic problem.
[America is becoming a Third-World nation before our eyes.]
There has been a steady rise in emergency food and shelter requests in the nation's cities since the mayors began their survey in 1986, with no sign that the problems are abating.
[And the problems will keep growing as long as we keep the nation's workweek, which had decreased by half over the previous 100-150 years, stuck at its 1940 level and totally out of step with our advanced level of technology, so that the underclass is kept as a cheap surplus commodity, unable to command even sustinence wages in the job markets.]
"The world's richest and most powerful nation must find a way to meet the basic needs of all its residents," said Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston, president of the conference..\..
[Riches don't get you out of the Third World when 1 person has them all and 99 have nothing.]
At the same time, the mayors said in their annual survey on hunger and homelessness, they received less money to care for the poor and disadvantaged, a reflection of the federal budget, a drop in private charitable contributions and a shift in attention to the threat of terrorism.... Nearly 2/3 of the 25 cities surveyed said they had to decrease the amount of food they provided to the poor this year, rationing meals and food donations to ensure that no one went hungry. The cities also reported that people remained homeless for an average of 6 months, and that 73% of the homeless families were headed by single parents..\..
An administration official said in an interview [yester]day that the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development [HUD] would provide $1.12B for programs for the homeless next year, a $28m increase over this year....
[We don't need to throw a little more unsustainable (ie: capricious, ad-hoc, discretionary) money at the unsustainable problem. We need a sustainable solution, defined as a share of worktime per person (= a workweek) that automatically adjusts against and unemployment rate redefined to include the whole problem of non-selfsupport, and a concept of overtime that automatically triggers, paces and funds training and hiring in overtime-targeted skills.]
11/27/2002 homelessness in the news -
- 12/07 Suspect in rape absorbed pain and inflicted it, by Kevin Flynn, NYT, front page.
When he was 2, his mother sold him to his father for $400, he told a psychologist. At 7, he continued, 2 older boys sexually abused him and threw him in a river. By 17, he was living alone on the streets of New York, scratching for money as an East Harlem deli clerk and sleeping in a van outside of the store.
Matias Reyes's horror stories, as recounted to doctors and detectives, are hardly a singular tale of desperation in a city as varied as NYC. But they are, at the moment, the closest thing anyone has to an explanation of how a curly haired highschool dropout evolved into a serial predator by the time he was 18.
[Not that variety necessarily involves desperation. But these horror stories do offer a pretty good explanation, never mind "closest thing to." As the Ecological Age upstages the Economic Age, and quality replaces quantity at the center of human values, societies will gradually stop subsidizing reproduction and start making non-reproduction the default, instead of reproduction.]
With its report submitted in court this week, the Manhattan DA's office explained why prosecutors believed it was Mr. Reyes, and not 5 teenagers previously convicted, who brutally raped and beat the Central Park jogger in 1989. ...Interviews with people who have dealt with Mr. Reyes over the last 15 years, from detectives who interviewed him to neighbors who took him in, provide glimpses into a man who appeared to process pain by inflicting it on others, many times over....
[We've lost this one. Lock him up and throw away the key. Put a Kevorkian kit in a niche in his cell wall.]
- [And on the other gender side, we have -]
12/07 Officials say city's sex trade is drawing younger girls, by Diane Cardwell, NYT, A18.
...Rhonnie Jaus, chief of the sex crimes bureau at the Brooklyn DA's office, told..\..a joint City Council committee session on teenage prostitution...she had been shocked to work on a case involving 4 girls, ages 11 to 15, who were working for one pimp. "Now several years later, I have many cases involving teenage prostitutes and their pimps, with many more coming down the pike," she said. "We see girls as young as 12 and 13 being recruited to become prostitutes off our streets, in front of group homes, and even on their way to school."...
- [And now for some good news -]
12/07 Help puts family on the road to self-sufficiency, by Kari Haskell, NYT, A19.
Mercedes Calzado...and her son, Oreidi...lost their jobs this year. Help from charities has prevented the family, including Ms. Calzado's daughter Carla, from living on the streets, but that possibility still looms. [photo caption]
[Any economic design, such as our current downsizing version of capitalism, that relies on charity for vital functions is lethally flawed. Timesizing-based capitalism does not rely on charity for vital functions.]
- [And some non-news -]
12/09 Homeless in winter, letter to editor by Pres. & CEO Arnold S. Cohen of Partnership for Homeless in NYC, NYT, A28.
Re "Homeless turn to shelters as temperatures turn icy" (news article, Dec. 4):
...No one wants to see homeless people suffering in the cold but effective solutions are not easy. ...Aggressive policing [only] driv[es] homeless people into hiding. A far better policy is -
...Combining small, safe haven shelters with outreach will help these homeless adults accept life-changing services....
- to connect with homeless adults through well-trained, multidisciplinary outreach teams that understand and address the issues that brought each individual to homelessness.
[What the hell is 'outreach' anyway? Seems to occur frequently in the verbal output of the well-meaning but ineffectual.]
- to find...alternatives to large city shelters rightfully viewed by many as dangerous....
[Fairly innocuous and ineffectual exhortations. How about putting some suction into the job market with a fluctuating workweek that responds to unemployment, comprehensively defined?! 'Course, this guy makes his living off the homeless "problem" so he may not actually want a solution - just more money thrown at the problem.]
11/17/2002 homelessness in the news -
- Ruling the roast, photo caption, NYT, front page.
Marshall Beatty, the chef at the Bowery Mission in Manhattan, getting down to work on Thanksgiving preparations. Volunteers will serve dinner to more than 1,500 homeless and hungry people tomorrow.
[Phil Hyde spent Thanksgiving "dinner" eating cheese&peanutbutter crackers on a 29' motor vessel at a freezing fishcamp on Kilkenney Creek (restaurant closed for holiday) in Georgia between Savannah and Brunswick as part of what he thought would be a 13-day study of the Gullah culture of the offshore islands but what turned out to be a 21-day study of the wealthy culture of the est. 2000 boats/year that use the Intracoastal Waterway down the southeast coast of the USA (how much do we taxpayers pay to have the Corps of Engineers dredge and buoy that sucker to keep it navigable??) and the additional number that use the Okeechobee Waterway across Florida. The amount of money tied up in yachts in America represents billions and billions and billions, nay, trillions of dollars, and indicates that the wealthy of the USA could solve all the problems of this country hundreds of times over, and of the world at least twice. If they knew how. And timesizing is their first comprehensive instruction manual. Yet the wealthy culture of the Waterways is strangely speckled with the poor - for example, hundreds, maybe thousands of people living on boats to avoid property tax - many of these boats in very poor condition. One woman on Georgia's Jeckyll Island (this was Hyde's debut on Jeckyll) said her husband was coming to the conclusion that they would have to sell their boat and try renting an apartment, because they were in a crunch between maintenance&marina costs (BOAT = "break out another thou$and") and healthcare costs.]
11/11/2002 homelessness in the news -
- From middle class to the shelter door - Reflecting trend, New Yorkers face poverty after last unemployment check - A recession and the aftereffects of the 9/11 attacks are unraveling some comfortable lives, by Leslie Eaton, NYT, A31.
The tidy apartment in a house in Staten Island rents for just $650 a month, but Salvatore and Lorraine Nardulli can no longer afford it. They cannot pay the phone bill, or the electric bill, or the insurance on their 10-year-old Pontiac Grand Prix. There is an empty space next to the VCR where the cable box once stood; dunning letters are stacked up on the kitchen table.
Mr. Nardulli, 53, who worked for an airline for almost three decades, has been unemployed for 18 months and cannot find a full-time job. Mrs. Nardulli, who is several years younger, worked for years as a legal secretary but more recently has been a homemaker and student; she cannot find any work.
They haev run through their $12,000 or so in savings. They have borrowed to the limit on their credit cards, another $12,000. And in June, Mr. Nardulli's extended unemployment insurance ran out. Turned down twice for public assistance, the Nardullis say they fear that they will end up in a homeless shelter....
No one knows for sure how many people are in the same boat as the Nardullis.... Some economists say there may be hundreds of thousands of them across the country, based on trends in the labor market.... The percentage of people who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits is at the highest level in two decades.
In New York State, 156,000 people have also used up the additional 3 months of temporary unemployment benefits that Congress authorized in March; that program expires at the end of December. While NY has by far the largest number of people who have run out..., nationally there are about 1.5 million, according to the federal Dept. of Labor. Wendell Primus, director of the income security division of the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, a liberal research institute in Washington, estimates that up to a million of them have not found jobs and are not eligible for further assistance....
[So, their options are: homelessness, "disability" (see 9/01-02/2002 #2), crime +/- prison, suicide.]
11/03/2002 homelessness in the news -
- Spreading the wealth, if just a dollar at a time, by Barbara Whitaker, NYT, A10.
[Back around 1989, Phil Hyde visited Yellowknife, NWT, Canada for Treaty Days when the federal government "indian agent" flies around to nearby settlements in a float plane once a year and gives $5 Canadian to every registered member of a native Canadian "band" or tribe (around Yellowknife, mostly Athabaskan Dogribs - cf. Navajos in the U.S.), $10 to council members and $25 to chiefs, as specified by a treaty signed in 1899 and not indexed to inflation. But in L.A. there's a way for anybody to get US $52 a year without being a member of anything -]
LOS ANGELES...- They showed up by the hundreds early this morning at Fifth and Towne Streets here on Skid Row. They divided neatly into groups - men, women and the disabled - and lined up around the block, waiting patiently for Father Dollar Bill. He arrived about 8:45 am in his white Toyota, American flags flapping on each side, thousands of crisp, clean dollar bills stashed under the front seat. Then Father Dollar Bill - the Rev. Maurice Chase, actually [too bad it's not Rev. Bill Chase] - put down a throw rug
[compare Sir Walter Raleigh's cloak or, the red cape of the toreador? - you need a touch of protective ceremony on these occasions]
and began handing out $3,000, one bill at a time, just as he has done Sundays for 20 years.... He started with the women and the handicapped before moving to the long line of homeless men, some dressed neatly and carrying the morning papers [some possibly wealthy but there for the "flip"], others beaten and dirty, toting plastic bags with everything they owned in the world.... As people pass by for their dollar, he may give them a blessing, ending with the sign of the cross. Or, he may just shake their hands, asking their names and where they are from..\..
At 83 and on a pension of about $1,000 a month, Father Chase is the first to acknowledge that a dollar [a week] does not buy that much.
[One native Canadian in a settlement near Yellowknife in 1989, upon being handed the annual Can. $5 by the scarlet-jacketed Canadian Mountie, remarked, "Five bucks? I can't even buy a plug of chewing tobacco with this!" (Upon Phil Hyde's standing up and saying, "Just renegotiate the 1899 treaty and index it to inflation!", you have never seen a Nice Canadian Mountie wheel and turn mean so fast - "You better sit down NOW!" - hoooboy.)]
...The homeless wait quietly for hours for that one dollar bill. "That tells me there are people in Los Angeles that don't have a dollar in their pocket," he said..\..
Father Chase acknowledges that he has been accused of enabling bad habits. One critic in particular sticks in his mind, a woman he said had two Scotches before passing judgment. "What a hypocrite," he said. "I like a glass of wine in the evening, and if I lived on the sidewalk I'd buy as much booze as I could." The reality, he adds, is that a dollar does not go far when it comes to vices....
[So on $1000 a month, where does he get the $3000 a week to hand out?]
If by day he is Father Dollar, by night Father Chase is a society priest, wining and dining among the city's elite. This is where he gets the money for his street work - about $100,000 a year - using connections that stretch back to Irene Dunne, the actress, whom he met as a young priest. Ms. Dunne introduced Father Chase to her celebrity friends. But it was at Loyola Marymount University, where he was responsible for fund raising, that Father Chase made most of his connections....
[Such a relief to hear something about Roman Catholicism these days besides child abuse!]
His donors have included Loretta Young, Jimmy Stewart, Bob and Dolores Hope, Gregory and Veronique Peck, and Frank Sinatra. Once a year around Thanksgiving and Christmas, he sends about 300 letters asking for donations for his Skid Row Charity Fund. Father Chase counts as his biggest donor Michael King, whose King World Productions is now owned by CBS/Viacom.
Mr. King said that he gave to many charities, but that there was something different about Father Chase's ministry on Skid Row, where an estimated 11,000 homeless people live. "This little charity the father deals with, you see impact immediately," said Mr. King, who joined Father Chase the Sunday after Thanksgiving 1994, handing out $25,000 of his own money, in $5 bills.
[Gotta keep them homeless barely alive, a living threat to those still employed across the land, to shut their mouths and do what they're told, just like Janet Rehnquist's employees in the Dept. of Health & Human Services this weekend on our downsizing page (11/09-11/2002 #5). As Tom Scully says, "She's looking for people to be loyal and do what she asks them to do" (and Scully's one of her friends!) Never mind actually SOLVING the problem and implementing a well-designed system to flexibly share skills, work and wages on a market basis, such as Timesizing. Just keep handin' out them bandaids.]
But most Sundays it is just Father Chase. He also hands out money in Santa Monica on Wednesdays....
[Isn't it dangerous for him?]
While he has never been robbed or injured, Father Chase says he has been threatened with a knife and knocked down..\.. Donald Miller, who has lived on the streets and now lives in a residential hotel, helps look out for the father. A few other men join him. For his daylong effort he may receive as much as $5....
Retired from the priesthood for about 10 years, [Fathe Chase] does not see giving up his street ministry. "I don't know how [long] I can do it," he said. "[But] I love it. God has given me the happiest part of my life at the end."
[So, unsustainable in more ways than one.]
10/24/2002 homelessness in the news -
- Help for the City's neediest, editorial, NYT, 4-12.
...In the last three years, the number of homeless families seeking shelter has gone up 55%. Food banks and soup kitchens are facing larders so emptied by growing need - meals for more than one million people every day [in New York City alone! - ed.] - they have had to turn away hungry children. And while the number of senior citizens in the city has grown significantly, assistance to them has not....
- [and nationwide -]
Cities cracking down on the homeless - 'The problem on the streets now is truly the worst we've seen' - Gavin Newsom, San Francisco lawmaker, by Rene Sanchez, Boston Globe, A25.
Fed up with the number of homeless people begging and sleeping on their streets, cities across the country have begun taking stern measures to restrict panhandlers or to run them out of town...although advocates say the effort makes criminals of the homeless..\..
[So, let's get this straight. America, the self-styled Land of the Free and Most Technologically Advanced Nation (but our money is on Japan), despite loads of work-saving technology, retains a workweek that hasn't been reduced since 1940 and the resulting stress and labor glut pushes people into mental illness, then the great USA pushes all its mentally ill out into the streets, then it pushes them all into crime, then it stores them all in jails and prisons at a cost of $30,000 a year. What a utopia! Then arrogant Yankees think they're in a position to lecture the rest of the world on human rights and democracy and freedom! What a laugh.]
"We are definitely seeing a rise in the number of places criminalizing homeless people," said Donald Whitehead, exec. dir. of the National Coalition for the Homeless.... Homelessness is on the rise because of the faltering national economy, and some shelter systems and municipal budgets can no longer cope with the demand....
- ...In [San Francisco, once the] capital of compassion, public fatigue with the panhandlers has become so intense that voters appeared ready to approve a ballot measure next week that would nearly wipe out the generous monthly welfare payments that San Francisco has long provided to thousands of homeless men and women.
[As Milton Friedman said, "You get more of what you subsidize, less of what you tax." We tax sales and subsidize homelessness, when we should tax unspendable concentrations of spending power and subsidize self-support by making it as easy as it should be at our high levels of technology, and "easy" has a specific definition = shorter hours and higher pay. How to do this on a gradual market-determined basis? Timesizing.]
Business leaders also are waging an extraordinary new campaign to shame San Francisco officials into solving the homelessness problem by blanketing billboards and taxi stops with ads that feature residents holding ragged cardboard signs that read, "I want to walk a block without getting hassled for money," or "I don't want to hold my breath past every alley."
[Oh that's gonna help a lot.]
- In Philadelphia, officials launched an advertising campaign urging downtown workers and tourists not to give spare change to panhandlers.
- In Orlando, Fla., the city council recently voted to jail people caught lying or sitting on downtown sidewalks.
- And in New Orleans, authorities have removed all the benches in historic Jackson Square to stop the homeless from sleeping there.
[Remember when we used to have public waterfountains that worked, and even fairly clean public restrooms? That would be back in the 40s and 50s - at least still in big Canadian cities like Toronto.]
[The whole shelter approach is a logical outgrowth of FDR's New Deal, which instead of making the private sector clean up its own mess and share the vanishing work with the 30-hour workweek bill, blocked the bill and proceeded to drag taxpayers into massive makework efforts and jobs programs.]
Counting the homeless is notoriously difficult because many displaced men and women avoid shelters and live on the streets or in their cars.... The US Conference of Mayors said that requests for emergency shelter have increased by an average of 13% in 27 cities over the past year.... "But we don't have an economy in hyperspace anymore," said John Hutar, president of the Hotel Council of San Francisco, which is leading the campaign to change the city's homelessness policies. "It's back to reality. I'm not suggesting that we become mean-spirited to the homeless, but the city is spending close to $200 million a year on this issue, and still nothing changes"..\.. Said Gavin Newcom, "...People really want a new approach to..\..the problem on the streets."...
10/19/2002 homelessness in the news -
- Weather-wary shelters add more beds, by David Abel, Boston Globe, B7.
With the arrival of snow and the cold weather, homeless shelters across [Massachusetts] yesterday took emergency action to increase the number of beds available. Shelters from Boston to Springfield last night added 100 beds, despite budget cuts and no public dollars for them, according to the Mass. Housing & Shelter Alliance.
At a time of record demand for shelter beds, with unprecedented numbers of homeless living on the streets, the extra spaces still don't make up for beds lost since last year. The Legislature this summer cut state aid for 328 beds. "The early cold and wet weather risks the lives of the increased number of people who cannot access shelter," said Mary Ellen Hombs, exec. dir. of the Mass. Housing & Shelter Alliance. "Had the Legislature not chosen to eliminate [the beds]," she said, "many more people would have had a place to go" Tuesday night, when temperature dipped toward the freezing mark.
As of the beginning of this month, shelters across the state operated at 115% of capacity, according to the Alliance. Shelters across Massachusetts have been overcrowded for the past 48 consecutive months, it said.
10/18/2002 homelessness in the news -
- Squabbling over the homeless, editorial, NYT, A30
New York City is struggling to cope with the largest caseload of homeless families in its history. Faced with a staggering deficit and systemwide budget cuts,
[when we should start talking about city-level worksharing, but...]
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has nonetheless beefed up the Dept. of Homeless Services and committed more than $100m to a new plan aimed at finding permanent housing for women and children who might otherwise spend years moving from one homeless shelter to the next.
[They're going to be doing that anyway. "Permanent housing" for non-self-supporting families in this country is an oxymoron.]
The Bloomberg plan - the first in history to create a clear route to permanent housing - is essentially what advocates have been asking for since they first brought the lawsuits that have governed homeless policy in New York for more than 20 years....
[Unfortunately, the editorial doesn't tell us what the Bloomberg Plan is but gets sidetracked on lamenting a sticking point between Bloomberg and the advocates for the homeless (the ejection policy described below on 9/16/2002). If yesterday's article is any indication, we can't see what it is about the Bloomberg Plan that the NY Times is so excited about.]
...The city argues that the new measures are necessary to enforce discipline in the shelters and to make its new plan work.... The city successfully worked its way out from under court supervision of its prison system. We would like to see the same thing happen here. But to do that, the city attorneys are going to have to show respect for the court and the advocates \and stop\ needless grandstanding [and avoid] just another endless NYC squabble.
10/13-14/2002 homelessness in the news -
- Without welcome, are they guests? Neighbors fault New York plan to house homeless in hotels - 'They don't have an inkling of our lifestyle here', by Joseph Berger, NYT, A28.
From Richard Nelson's porch, the building across the street looks like just another hotel in a strip of 5 imposing hotels north of Kennedy International Airport, a place where you might find globetrotters resting for the night. The sign near the roof still says "Best Western."
But the travelers Mr. Nelson has seen arriving at the hotel since July have been more than 1,000 homeless people - mothers and their children and a few fathers, They are ferried to his neighborhood after being evicted by their landlords or asked to leave by relatives weary of the crowding.
The city's homeless population has mushroomed by 13% since July 1 to 8,900 families - an all-time high - and forced the Bloomberg administration to take controversial measures like housing families in a vacant Bronx jail.
But since taking over City Hall in January, the administration has also quietly set up 18 new shelters, some virtually overnight, for more than 1,200 families, usually by paying nonprofit social service providers $93 a night per room to place them in whatever failing or marginal hotels the providers could find. The total number of family shelters is now 124.
In response, there have been protests from neighbors and their political leaders across the city.... While some of the grievances have been of the not-in-my-backyard variety, the residents have also complained that the shelters were opened with no notice and little chance to have their voices heard....
[This, disability, and prisons are going to just grow and grow now that our mechanical, electrical and information technology has so far outstripped our morale-neutral sharing technology, namely our work sharing technology.]
10/04/2002 homelessness in the news -
- 10/14 For the homeless, a haven becomes less sure - Cracks appear in Santa Monica's tolerance for the down and out, by Nick Madigan, NYT, A12.
...Santa Monica CA, an oceanfront city where the government helps pay for about two dozen programs for homeless peole, runaways and youths emerging from foster care, has long been known for its kindness to the dispossessed. But...last Tuesday the Santa Monica City Council took the first step toward approving a pair of ordinances aimed at the city's homeless population, which...estimates put at 1,000. If passed by the Council on a 2nd reading, scheduled for Oct.22, the measures would forbid sitting or sleeping in doorways in the downtown business district at night and restrict groups that feed the homeless.
[So, no jobs, no homes - just purely symptomatic relief - for the non-homeless.]
Many homeless people and their advocates say the measures are tantamount to ejecting the homeless from Santa Monica, where the population of 85,000 swells to as many as half a million on summer weekends.... While over the years a state trespassing law and several previous ordinances here - including night-time park closures, passed in 1995 - have been used to rein in the homeless, the new, more stringent measures are part of an effort by downtown business owners to stop what they see as a blight that affects commerce.
...Wally Marks, a landlord on the Third Street Promenade and former chairman of the Bayside District Corp. which runs the downtown business area...said that cleaning up after homeless people who use doorways as toilets is not in the job description of the clerks who oppen businesses in the morning. ...Said a manager at the Broadway Bar and Grill, "These people take up every bench on the promenade, with all their stuff, and shoppers can't sit down...."
The rule against sleeping in storefront doorways would be enforced between 11 pm and 7am. The other ordinance would require charities to obtain county health department permits in order to conduct feedings, which would then be regulated by the city as distinct events. Charities fear that in the competition for space with other organizations planning events in the parks, they would be edged out.
To officials here, no other city in the area is doing enough for Los Angeles County's 84,000 homeless people, leaving the burden to Santa Monica. ...With the economy faltering, and charitable contributions down, "this isn't the moment for a compassionate city to draw the line and say, "No more"..\..said Mayor Michael Feinstein...as he visited the City Hall lawn [yester]day on in-line skates. \He\ voted for the measure regarding sleeping in doorways but against the restrictions on feeding. He called it "a way to starve people out of the city."
...Some of the homeless waiting to eat here...were...understanding. "All Santa Monica is trying to do is clean up the act"..\..said Fred Chauff...a former merchant marine master captain who has been homeless since losing his nerve, as he put it, after accidentally killing a man on the job..., as he waited for the church group to arrive with the food - canned tuna, crackers, mayonnaise, relish, granola bars, bagels, fruit juice and coffee. "The city is trying to cut down on excessive panhandling and excessive behavior," he said, "and you can't blame them for that."
Some food providers said they would try to go along. "If we can, we'll comply with the letter of the law," said Fernando Moreno, director of campus ministry at Loyola Marymount University, which has run a feeding program for 5 years. "There's always a way to help the poor - that's a gospel mandate. It's really not an option that we have."
[How about sharing the limited employment and becoming one of the many cultures on the planet that do not have "the poor," despite Jesus' culture-specific remark that "the poor you have always with you." When this issue is solved, 300-400 years from now, the solution will be based on fluctuating local, state and national workweeks (state can fluctuate below but not above the national workweek level and local can fluctuate below but not above the state workweek level) and on overtime-to-training&hiring conversion. The solution will center on fluctuating local, state and national lines on income per person per month and on overline-to-training&hiring conversion, modeled on the worktime-sharing system. It will be much easier to support oneself, so private charities and government charities (taxpayers) don't have to. Business cycles will no longer exist in anything like their current frequency and virulence, because almost all potential consumers will be activated.]
- 10/13 New York's homeless, back out in the open, by Leslie Kaufman & Kevin Flynn, NYT, front page.
The growing presence of homeless people in places like Union Sq in Manhattan is alarming business groups. [caption on photo showing glittering street at night, with couple walking past park, woman looking away and man looking back at homeless man sitting on bench, shielding behind and under large flattened cardboard box]
...Homeless people, whose presence seemed to decline in the flush years of the Giuliani administration, are suddenly more visible, napping on park benches and camped out under scaffolding, possessions in tow. Neither the city nor the groups that advocate on behalf of the homeless actually survey this transient population, so it is impossible to say with certainty that their numbers are growing. City officials insist the problem is more one of perception than of reality, and plan to begin conducting an annual census of the street population this winter so that real data will be available....
Advocates for the city's poor, on the other hand, insist that the weak economy and a growing lack of supportive housing for the homeless who are mentally ill have led to an increase in the number of people sleeping on the streets. They point out that the average number of single adults in city shelters is 7,728 per night - the highest since 1991. They also say that the city's soup kitchens and feeding vans are reporting crowds that they have not seen since the late 1980's, when the number of homeless in New York peaked....
For earlier homelessness stories, click on the desired date -
- California: Two sue over 'Bumfights' tape, AP via NYT, A19.
Two homeless men are suing 4 filmmakers who they say paid them to hurt themselves and beat each other. The two, Donald Brennan and Rufus Hannah, say the makers of a videotape, "Bumfights: A cause for concern," took advantage of their addiction to alcohol to goad them to violence.
[See story 9/26 below.]
The two men are seeking unspecified punitive damages, contending they were subjected to assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violations of their civil rights.
[What ever happened to free will and personal responsibility? Or does that go out the door with addiction? Ifso, better to sue the alcohol manufacturers.]
About 300,000 copies of the tape have sold at $20 each, the police in La Mesa, a San Diego suburb, said. The filmmakers face criminal charges.
Dec/2000 & earlier.
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