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[Commentary] © 2003 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622 Cambridge MA 02143 USA (617) 623-8080
Homelessness Stories, Jan-Jun/2003
6/18/2003 homelessness in the newspapers -
6/15/2003 homelessness in the newspapers -
- Camped out - Japan's homeless find their place in public parks - Long economic slump, tolerant attitudes let shantytowns take root - Raising chickens, vegetables, by Phred [s/he's gotta be kidding!] Dvorak, WSJ, front page.
OSAKA...- For four months, Osamu [= Osama in Japanese?] Hachiya, an official with the city parks department here, struggled to move 11 homeless people a few hundred feet - from the southeast corner of Nishinari Park to a more crowded spot near the middle....
[Doesn't sound like a good deal for the homeless.]
Onto the streets
Once famous for its equitable society, Japan is now suffering from a homeless problem so bad that shantytowns are filling nearly all the big parks in cities such as Tokyo and Osaka. Part of the problem is the economy: 13 years of slump have pushed up unemployment and bankruptcy rates, driving the poorest onto the streets.
[Our 'take' - Japan, by the accident of recent feudalism and WW2defeat-forged fellow feeling, rose to the world's second economy by the 1980s. Japanese CEOs, looking around for a way to celebrate, had only one model = American CEOs' greed. So careless of consequences, they started imitating American CEOs' main response to technology, downsizing, and abandoning their own, lifetime employment. The consequences were a lot faster and more visible than in the USA. In little more than a year, Japan was on the ropes because it was dependent on its fully activated consumer base, and once it started downsizing it no longer had a fully activated consumer base and a self-fueling death spiral began. Ours took another ten years to get going, but despite the voudoun ceremonies for a sustainable rally, all we'll find in our tealeaves from here on is liquidity-driven rallies alias...bubbles - until we snap out of our technology-subverting haze and start trimming worktime, not workforce (& consumer base).]
The number of homeless people has ballooned to about 25,000, according to a recent government estimate, up from almost none in the late 1980s. Activists say the actual figure is probably several times higher.
That's still tiny compared with the U.S., which has an estimated 600,000 homeless.
[We'd put it at twice that, but hey, this is the first overall estimate we've seen, so we'll grasp it in gratitude. Oops, wait - we have another estimate back on 6/28/2001 which is much lower, 280,527, so maybe the current estimate is a big step forward in honestly 'facing the music' after all.]
But while the U.S. federal government spent about $2.2B last year on homeless-assistance programs, Japan, until recently, hasn't done much....
[except trillions and trillions of yen on public works to try the discredited makework approach to economic stagnation.]
6/11/2003 homelessness in the newspapers -
- Teen's idea of job fair gives hope to homeless - Potential employers, job seekers converge - 'They want to work; You talk to anybody, and they don't want to be in the shelter system,' Eliza Greenberg, by Shari Rudavsky, Boston Globe, D4.
John Foley hasn't held a full-time job for 2 years,
[not at all unusual in this work-hoarding economy with its outdated workweek, even for people who still have homes]
but a Hopkinton MA highschool student could help land the Boston homeless man a job. A recent fair that Foley attended on City Hall Plaza in Boston was the brainchild of 17-year-old Caitlin Gorski. The event brought together more than 1,000 jobseekers and 20 potential employers....
Gorski had had little exposure to the homeless until a group from her church visited a Boston homeless shelter, she said. Gorski started chatting with one of the men, who told her how desperately he wanted a job..\..
Gorski had long envisioned a job fair specifically to help those most in need of employment. But it was not until she attended a social action program for highschool juniors at Mt Holyoke College in South Hadley MA last fall that she gained the tools necessary to pull off such a feat.... Gorski credits the Take the Lead program at Mt Holyoke for giving her the confidence to bring her vision to fruition. The program, started 3 years ago, brings together 40 highschool girls from around the country to learn how to launch a project to address a social need. "What I say to these young women is that you, right now, have enormous power to change the world," said Patricia VandenBerg, director of Take the Lead. "You don't have to wait."
Students must be nominated either by an adult or an alumna of the program and must submit detailed descriptions of their proposed projects. This year 698 nominations were received. Each year about half of the program participants make substantive progress within 6 months after completing 4 days of workshops, said VandenBerg, who maintains regular contact with students. Susan Sparrow, a student from Salt Lake City UT said workshops on time management and working with the media helped her organize her peers to lobby for a bill requiring the state to explore gender inequalities in pay for state employees..\..
Gorski had no idea how to start [her project], but the 4-day program at Mt Holyoke helped her devise a plan. She started calling shelters to enlist their help and learned that many of them encourage their residents to attend job fairs or invite employers to visit them, but had never banded together as a group.
Then Gorski reached Fred Smith, director of the Moving Ahead Program at St. Francis House in Boston. "I literally hit myself in the head and said 'why didn't I think of this'," Smith said. "This isn't rocket science. It's just matching people up with people who need something." With Smith's help and the help of a family friend, Gorski brought together about 10 shelters. The city offered the site [Boston City Hall Plaza], and Gorski started contacting employers [such as] Pennzoil-Quaker State Co., which operates Jiffy Lube stores..\..
Of the estimated 6,210 homeless people in Boston, about 38% earn some income from employment, said Eliza Greenberg, exec. dir. of Boston's emergency shelter commission. Many want jobs, she said. "They want to work...."
6/6/2003 homelessness in the newspapers -
- Shelters win right to evict rule-violators - Appellate panel backs New York's restrictions - Permission to make refuges safer even at the risk of barring the needy, by Leslie Kaufman, NYT, A26.
[And of course, there are no longer any state hospitals to send these mentally disturbed violators to, so they're out on the streets endangering Americans in general. This amounts to homeland terrorist creation alias a Homeland Insecurity Policy. Americans are getting stupider and stupider.]
Homeless men and women who are repeatedly disruptive and noncooperative may be evicted from city shelters, a NY State appellate court ruled yesterday.
[This is like our economists, who label anything that doesn't conform to their comfortable theories "externalities," and forget about them. At least the last of the geocentric astronomers made an effort to explain the non-conforming retrograde motion of the planets as "epicycles."]
For the first time since 1981, when the city signed a court decree promising to provide shelter to anyone who seeks it [= a blank check to provide welfare for the world? - except then we still had a recognizable immigration policy and state hospitals], the city would have the right to set restrictions on who may stay in its shelters, including the right to evict individuals for actions that are not explicitly criminal, like disturbing others or consistently refusing to seek therapy. Advocates for the homeless pledged an immediate appeal, saying the ruling would force more troubled homeless people out onto the streets....
[So again we have the sameness of the extreme opposites in America = lunatics in the White House and lunatics on the streets - but gorging in the White House and starving on the streets. Oh yes, the "leader of the free world" tears itself to shreds. "Those whom the gods destroy they first make mad."]
5/24/2003 homelessness in the newspapers -
- For homeless, a gentler approach - Police and outreach group join forces to patrol city streets and offer help - Training and coordination contribute to a falling arrest rate in New York, by Robert Worth, NYT, C12.
Police Officer Michael Venckus...a member of the Police Dept's Homeless Outreach Unit..\..since 1991...has arrested many vagrants over the years, and sent thousands of others to shelters, detox centers and hospitals. He has seen the city's homeless population rise and fall, and has witnessed varying approaches to the problem, like sealing subway tunnels, ignoring the homeless and arresting them...as criminals instead of [viewing them] as people in need..\.. But in the last few months...he and other officers throughout Manhattan have been going on joint patrols with a downtown homeless outreach group, the Bowery Residents' Committee, which is training the officers how to help the homeless without arresting them.
It may seem like an obvious solution. The police and advocates for the homeless share the same goal: getting the homeless off the streets. Yet in the past they have often clashed.... Six months ago, an advocacy group sued the city over what it and others called a deliberate policy of arresting homeless people instead of trying to help them.
In the new collaboration, outreach workers show officers how to approach and better understand homeless people and where to take them for shelter or help. The police, in turn, provide protection, allowing the outreach workers to go into dangerous areas where they have not felt safe on their own.
...Arrests of homeless people by the Homeless Outreach Unit jumped sharply after the unit was reorganized last fall. But there have been no arrests during the joint outreach patrols. And this year, arrests of the homeless citywide dropped to 1,719 as of May 28, compared with 2,225 in the same period last year. So far about 100 officers from 9 Manhattan precincts and the Homeless Outreach Unit have gone through the initial training, and 50 have been on the joint patrols. ...Said Muzzy Rosenblatt, the exec. dir. of the Bowery Residents' Committee, "...The more we train and coordinate with [cops] the more effective homeless services will be."
...The...Residents' Committee has worked with local precincts on an ad hoc basis for several years, and there was a similar effort on the Lower East Side in the 1970s. But the new effort is the first time an outreach group has trained and worked systematically with police officers throughout Manhattan. The Residents' Committee received a contract to do outreach work in late 2001. After starting out with downtown precincts, it began working with the department's newly expanded Homeless Outreach Unit in November.
Officers from the unit and local precincts receive a one-day training session at the Midtown Community Court, and then go on a trial run, with coaching from Residents' Committee workers. The patrols usually involve one officer and one outreach worker, traveling either in one of the committee's vans or in a marked police car. "Sometimes...," said Capt. Neil Farrell, who, until recently, was the commander of the Homeless Outreach Unit, "...I'll get a call from them letting me know that the Madison Sq Park homeless population has moved a couple of blocks east. That stuff really helps, because the homeless population is very mobile."
...Officer Venckus said the most important lesson for rookie officers was how to approach the homeless. ...During a recent rainy afternoon in a downtown park, Officer Venckus and Brian Houghton, a senior outreach worker for the committee, walked up to a homeless man sprawled on a bench...who identified himself as Kevin Washington.... "You can see I'm not going to hassle you, and I'm not going to preach to you either," the officer said. Within a few minutes, Mr. Washington was telling a long story about living in a crack house in Harlem, becoming homeless to get away from the drugs. Ultimately, [he] refused to leave his bench, but Mr. Houghton gave him a letter to help him get into the committee's shelter in the Bowery.
5/22/2003 homelessness in the news -
- Mister Boffo, cartoon by *Joe Martin, Boston Globe, E15.
[One long frame - two businessmen walking past a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk against a wall with his coffee mug out for spare change, - one businessman says...]
"The worst of it is, by the time we get laid off and lose everything, all the really prime locations will be taken!"
5/19/2003 homelessness in the news -
- Needs other than hunger fill pantries, by Joyce Purnick, NYT, C15.
They are everywhere and increasingly insistent: warnings of growing hunger in New York City, of demand outstripping supply, of shortages of food supplies. "Not since the Great Depression has there been a time of such hunger," says City Harvest in a recent fund-raising letter....
Plainly, more New Yorkers began visiting food kitchens and pantries after 9/11/01, and it is evident that demand is high and growing, reflecting the weak economy. No question, some people need the programs to stave off hunger - especially homeless men....
"But...what we hear most is, 'I need the food to save the money for rent'..\..said Sister Mary Alice Hannan, exec. dir. of Part of the Solution, a social services agency in the Bronx that is seeing more and more clients, including more children.... Or for clothes, school supplies, subway fares. Food programs, once an emergency system, are now a form of continuing, supplementary assistance.... Julia Erickson, the exec. dir. of City Harvest...wrote in her letter..\.."We're seeing more than 1.6 million New Yorkers forced to go to food pantries and soup kitchens...." That's one in five, [according to] a nationwide study done in early 2001 for America's Second Harvest, a network of food banks. The section on NYC was based on questionnaires answered by 632 food programs and interviews with 367 clients, conducted by volunteers and by employees of the food agencies themselves....
[Can't they just tell from the food pantries' figures?]
For food pantries, cupboard isn't bare but it's coming close - As demand and hunger rise, some rationing is put into effect - Trend: Longer lines for food assistance - 'We never had more need for food,' the director of a distributor says, by Peter Kilborn, 5/25/2003 NYT, A18.
["Never mind - just seven more months till Christmas."]
[More followup -]
Success is bittersweet at foodbanks, by Joyce Purnick, 5/26/2003 NYT, A15.
Portrait of a thriving industry: food for the poor....
4/26/2003 homelessness in the news -
- Obituaries... - Jeremy Sandford, 72, playwright concerned with homelessness, AP via NYT, A19.
LONDON...- Jeremy Sandford, whose 1967 TV play "Cathy Come Home" made homelessness the subject of a national debate in Britain, died on Monday in Hatfield, north of London.... The cause of death was not disclosed.
[So it's either AIDS, if anyone's still embarrassed about that, or suicide alias auto-euthanasia.]
"Cathy Come Home"...told of an impoverished couple who become homeless. The social workers they meet are unfeeling and unhelpful, and...remove the children from their distraught mother. The film resulted in some local authorities' discontinuing their policy of separating poor families. The play and the ensuing debate led to the creation of the British charity organization [called] Shelter.
Mr. Sandford's 1971 play, "Edna, the Inebriate Woman," a companion piece to "Cathy Come Home," followed the progress of a vagrant through the hostels of London..\..
In the 1950s and early 60s [Sandford] made short documentaries for BBC radio, including one that looked at the overworked, poorly paid staff at London's luxurious Savoy Hotel..\..
The son of a printer, Mr. Sandford attended Eton College and Oxford University, then began writing radio plays....
4/21/2003 joblessness-related homelessness in the news -
- Homeless to represent U.S. in soccer in Austria - A tournament seeks to turn lives around through competition, by Corey Kilgannon, NYT, A17.
The soccer team [is] a set of scruffy, middle-age men with hardened faces.... The players are homeless men, living on the street or in shelters..\.. The coach [is] Stephanie Quinn.... And this summer, their team will represent the U.S. at the Homeless Street Soccer World Championship, in Graz, Austria.
[So, there's a "homeless street" as well as an "Arab street" - we sensed this "street" phrase might not be too complimentary.]
The New York team was formed last yaeer by Ron Grunberg, an outreach worker for the Grand Central Neighborhood Social Services Corp. Mr. Grunberg, who edits a NY street newspaper called Big News, learned of the [Austrian] event at a convention last year. ...All expenses in Austria would be covered by the tournament committee.... So in the fall, Mr. Grunberg began holding weekly practices at a field downtown, "next to the biggest food line in the city," he said. Players drifted over and soon there were a dozen regulars....
[So, another chapter in the ongoing saga of how we'll share ANYTHING with the homeless except the key thing they need - the market-demanded employment that most of them slipped out of at some point and couldn't get back into. Indeed, we're breeding a lot more homeless as we speak, with our braindead downsizing response to incoming technology. Check out the "not counting" section at the start of our downsizings this weekend, 4/26-28/2002.]
4/02/2003 joblessness-related homelessness in the news -
- Workfare's failure, by Pres. Arnold Cohen of Partnership for the Homeless, NYT, A24.
...Workfare has not lived up to its promise of creating a workforce that is financially independent. Thounsands upon thousands of New Yorkers are mired in poverty or languish in homeless shelters. Homeless parents, welfare recipients and the working poor know that better-paying jobs require education....
[or better, much better = on-the-job training (OJT), as automatically market-oriented, prioritized and maximized by the Timesizing program's overtime design.]
3/31/2003 joblessness-related homelessness in the news -
- New York - City settles lawsuit on arrests of homeless, AP via Boston Globe, A2.
NYC agreed to settle a lawsuit that accused the Police Dept. of making an effort to arrest homeless people rather than providing them with shelter or social services. The Dept. agreed in the settlement to issue directives to units that deal regularly with homeless people, such as the police division that patrols the subways.
[Here's a double bandaid for you. Rather than organize to provide housing themselves for the homeless, homeless advocates are going to leave the homeless out there and get the police dept. to "issue directives", which will just mean the cops leave the homeless to accumulate in the subways and streets instead of having even a crude jail roof over their heads.]
Among other things, officers will be instructed to treat people spotted violating a law the same "regardless of whether the person is homeless or not."
[And why wouldn't that mean carting them off to jail, whether they're homeless or not?]
An advocacy group, Picture the Homeless, sued the city last November, saying arrests of homeless people were on the rise and accusing the department of changing its policy to emphasize arresting, rather than assisting, the homeless.
[How about an advocacy group that, rather than model the behavior it wants, merely litigates to force other people to practice the behavior it wants, without a model?! With friends advocating like this, who needs enemies?]
A lawyer for the city, Gail Donoghue, denied that the Dept. had ever changed its policy and said more homeless people were arrested last year "because there was more activity."
[So what's wrong with "activity"?]
City officials said they are not conceding any wrongdoing....
3/28/2003 joblessness-related homelessness in the news -
- [first, we noticed this headline on Sunday -]
'Giving meters' may aid Seattle homeless, AP via 3/30/2003 Boston Globe, A15.
[then today the Times came out with -]
Seattle meters billed as aiding homeless sow discord, NYT, A9.
[truly one of your all-time Great Ambiguous Headlines, unless you saw the one in the Globe first -
A makeover of one [of] this city's busiest thoroughfares is nearing completion this spring, and it will bring new benches, decorative lampposts and little green sentinels called "giving meters." Giving meters, parking meters altered to accept spare change from passers-by, are the city's latest answer to the panhandling on University Way, which is known as "the Ave"...near the University of Washington.... Businesses have complained for years about "Ave rats," the derisive but widely used term for the homeless youths who gather in the alcoves at the entrances to stores and around benches on the Ave. Merchants say the youths beg aggressively, scaring away shoppers..\..
- (shaggy sow story -)
once upon a time, a sow was pushed out of her comfortable sty at the farm and became homeless, but she met some telephone installers and managed to get a part-time job unravelling chaotic heaps of cords for recycling; her task was greatly facilitated when she secured some special meters invented in Seattle to quickly straighten and measure cords; now these Seattle meters are being billed as aiding the homeless sow to dis-cord these tangles for recycling....
- (those homeless activists -)
recently the homeless in Seattle have become leaders in controversial pro-war demonstrations; they have a special way of robbing parking meters to fund their operations; now Seattle meters are billed as aiding the homeless to sow discord....
- (and the actual -)
modified Seattle parking meters intended to collect money for the homeless have become controversial....]
But in a city comfortable with its liberalism, programs viewed as cracking down on the homeless usually get a cold reception, and politicians promote them at their peril. In the last mayoral election, a city lawyer who had sponsored a ban on loitering lost decisively, hurt by unflattering comparisons to Rudolph Giuliani, the mayor of New York at that time.
So some advocates for the homeless who supported the meters expressed consternation when Mayor Greg Nickels introduced the program last month as a way to fight panhandling. Now a program that everyone supposedly could support is teetering toward the dustbin of well-intentioned flops....
The giving meters were supposed to work like this: The city would collect the change deposited and distribute it to private agencies, like [Kristine] Cunningham's..\..Street Ministry Services...that pay for job training and education for the homeless..\..
The benefit of installing the meters remains to be seen..\.. Jared Royer, a [city] planner with the Seattle Dept. of Neighborhoods [who was] behind the idea, predicted they would collect no more than $2,000 a year. The meters are not intended to be a cash cow, said Teresa Hugel, director [of] the district chamber fo commerce, but an alternative to throwing change into a cup and having it spent on drugs or alcohol..\..
Several tactics have been tried over the years to discourage panhandling, including more frequent police patrols and piping classical music into the places the youths gather.
[Arghhh, MOZART - shrivel shrivel!]
The number of loitering youths has declined, but not enough, said Gayle Nowicki, owner of Gargoyle Statuary, a veritable five and dime for all things gothic.... Ms. Nowicki said the meters might be too much competition for panhandlers, encouraging them to move on. And that would be all right, she said..\.. "I definitely feel for the people on the street. But when you have too many people out there, more than you have customers, that's scary.... I just feel we have to balance."...
[But isn't the whole point of gothic to be scary? How can she tell the "loitering youths" apart from her customers?? All in all, we like the sow story best - it has the happiest ending. But let's get back to the Globe's version. It has some juicy tidbits the Times ignored. First off, the whole flutterup is over only five of these freakin' meters -]
...Mayor Greg Nickels proposed installing five green "giving meters" near the University of Washington campus to offer passersby a place for their spare change apart from the tip jars at the city's ubiquitous coffee shops.
[Ooh, the plot thickens. That means these damn giving meters are competing not only with the homeless but with the poverty-stricken waitrons of fancy local coffeeshops - but there's still only five of them. But installing the five is quite a boondoggle -]
...Installation of the five meters, which would cost $750, is projected to take place in June.... "It's a pilot project," Royer said. "If it doesn't work, we'll yank them."
[Hey, Royer, how much of a kickback you gettin' on these babies? April, May, June - we gotta wait 3 months till they're installed, pay 750/5= $150 a meter, and by your own estimate, they only make $2000 a year or 2000x5= $10,000 a year from all five, or 10000/12= $833, which means they'll take nearly all their first month just earning back their cost. So we got a better idea - just give the $750 to the homeless instead of spending it on these wacky giving meters (robot charity?) and avoid all the mishigas. And by da way, Royer, how come you're claiming credit for dis here whole idea in the first place? Cuz from da Globe, we find out dat, like all good tings, dese here was invented in ... (no, not Texas!) ... Canada -]
..\..The idea came from the 16 yellow spare-change meters in Vancouver, British Columbia, that bring in a few thousand dollars each year toward that city's Union Gospel Mission, said Bob Macdonald, parking engineer for the city....
[Oops, the UNseparation of church and state in erstwhile pristine Canada. Well, maybe Royer came up with the new color, green, for those in Seattle, even though he stole the basic idea from "North of the border, up Canada way." At least the Canucksters are actually making some dough with them. But Canucks are so nice anyway. We should know....]
3/01/2003 joblessness-related homelessness in the news -
- City says 1,780 homeless are sleeping on Manhattan's streets - Critics say that the count was poorly done and the number could be too low, by Greg Retsinas, NYT, A15.
...[in] NY City's first attempt to count the people who live on the streets of Manhattan.... The 1990 census counted about 6,100 homeless people on the streets of Manhattan, and the 2000 census never released any figures, in part because of criticism of how the 1990 counting was conducted.
Despite disagreeing with the number produced by the city, homeless advocates say that the population of people living on Manhattan streets has declined since 1990.
[On what basis? And if true, why? Another effect of 9/11? More homeless shelters?]
Citywide, about 8,300 single adults stay at city shelters each night, and 30,000 others stay at shelters for homeless families....
2/26/2003 homelessness in the news -
- Counting the homeless, letter to editor by Exec. Dir. Douglas Lasdon of Urban Justice Ctr of NY, NYT, A32.
Re "Volunteers gather to count the city's homeless" (news article, Feb. 25):
I have represented the homeless in NYC for more than 20 years [and] we simply cannot count the homeless in abandoned buildings, rooftops, tunnels and hallways (the city's effort to count the homeless does not include any of these areas). To further complicate matters, most of my clients do not "look homeless" and will not be counted.
We do know for sure, however, that tens of thousands of New Yorkers will sleep outside or in a shelter tonight.
[How do we "know for sure"?]
This fact alone is sufficient to dictate public policy.
[A total ("tens of thousands") implies a factual count. No count, no total, no "fact." And exactly what public policy is this "fact" alone sufficient to dictate? But thanks for pointing out all the places the current homeless census is missing, not only in actual count but probably also in estimates (which need some kind of actual count to have any claim to validity). The kind of complicated and hidden homeless "homes" that Lasdon lists suggests that NYC needs to enlist the help of the homeless themselves in doing the census, and that would require a much better outline of just why the figures are needed and exactly what kind of policies the figures are going to be used to support. That may well take a much fuller vision of NYC's future than the usual current ad-hoc, bandaid, crisis-mgmt approach has to offer, a fuller vision that may well require the kind of skill training and work sharing that only a Timesizing-like program can provide. The homeless didn't become homeless by accident, and in most cases it had something to do with a near-simultaneous conjunction of personal disasters, key among which was job loss in our unsustainable "disposable workforce" type of capitalism, unsustainable because it "externalizes" and ignores the almost one-to-one corelation between its workforce and its consumer base, meaning the consumer markets that constitute 2/3 of the economy and provide the foundation of its industrial and financial markets, much as they would each (especially financial) like to themselves as The Foundation Market, sufficient unto itself.]
1/27/2003 homelessness in the news -
- A census that can't go door to door - In count of New York's homeless, volunteers outnumber subjects, by Corey Kilgannon, NYT, A23.
[Well of course, if they go around in a crowd and don't have the sense to split up when they're doing the count!]
...Nobody had ever tried to tally the homeless population for the obvious reason that homeless people don't stay put long enough to be counted. But this year the City vowed to try anyway, with the Commissioner of Homeless Services, Linda Gibbs, declaring bravely, "In order to end street homelessness, you have to understand how many people are out there and where they are."
The theory was that by taking 1,000 volunteers and sending them to places where the homeless are known to congregate, officials could count enough people to do a statistical sampling that would amount to a pretty good guess....
By the end of [Monday] night, the census takers had found 17 homeless people who agreed to go into shelters, department officials said.
[Suddenly there's room in the shelters?!]
The total count would not be available for several weeks....
The night started prosaically for the 6 volunteers of Team 5..\..three men and three women.... They said it was a sense of duty that had brought them to this large conference room in this downtown office building to help...count the number of homeless people living on the streets of Manhattan.... They rehearsed scripts outlining how to identify, approach and interview homeless people. They carried flashlights, clipboards and a certain amount of New York chutzpah....
[Any chutzpah is too much when relating to homeless people. They are like the tourists that stride into Hopi villages and try to start filming the ritual dances.]
Their canvassing area was District 23, a dozen windswept blocks off the East River between the base of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Fulton Fish Market. Officials from the Dept. of Homeless Services, who divided Manhattan into 1,000 districts for the count, classified the district among those...most densely populated with homeless....
Survey guidelines dictate that teams approach everyone on the street and ask about their housing situation..\.. The first twist of the evening came when the team was introduced to several journalists who would tag along to cover the census: a reporter and photographer from The Times and a 3-person TV crew [from] WNBC News.
[Ludicrous. Especially if the six don't split up, which apparently they didn't.]
..\..The gang was quite a sight, with their notebooks, clipboards, TV cameras and sound booms.
[Sound booms? Have they heard about the handheld Canon video&audio recorder for $500 that's no bigger than the palm of your hand?! Big "professional" cameras are sabotagingly oversized for this kind of assignment, let alone freaking SOUND BOOMS, and 2 extra people on the assignment! Talk about makework! Talk about the process of observation interfering with the observed.]
People on the street stopped and stared. This did not sit well with a middle-aged Hispanic man who awoke when the group approached and suggested in no uncertain terms that the team move along.... "Get those cameras off me," he yelled.... He began throwing snowballs at [them]..\..
There was a guy sleeping under the Brooklyn Bridge who...said, "Come back alone one day when I don't have 10 people in my face."... The final count was five, hardly the bonanza that some team members expected....
[Probably because any self-respecting homeless persons, seeing this menagerie approaching, would make themselves scarce.]
The homeless census, letter to editor by Kim Hopper of Yonkers NY, 2/28/2003 NYT, A28.
...We volunteers went ahead with what some of us viewed as a flawed effort.... I was one of the skeptical volunteers who fanned out to canvas the streets. [But] we count because homes count, because without them there is something false and unreal about a society's claim to be civilized.
1/18/2003 homelessness in the news -
- Falling into the gap - A city of poverty and excess, op ed by Bob Herbert (firstname.lastname@example.org), NYT, A27.
MIAMI - ...We've closed our eyes to poverty in the United States. Government aid these days goes to the plutocrats, and the poor are being left further and further behind....
Miami is the poorest big city in the USA - poorer than Newark...Detroit...any city with a population of 250,000 or more. Most of the poor are working, and many have more than one job. But the economy is lousy and the city is teeming with immigrants willing to work for extremely low wages, even for pay below the minimum wage. So jobs are hard to find and wages across the board are rock-bottom.
[As colleague Kate says, immigration is lovely but not when it drives down wages and living standards via virtually uncontrolled infusion of manhours into a limited job market. Wouldn't it be nice if some of our economists would GET RELEVANT, cut the crap about "Work (i.e., the job market) Is Limitless," and address this problem.]
"People are living on the edge, paycheck to paycheck," said Judith Gatti, director of the Daily Bread Food Bank. She rattled off the categories of people needing food assistance:
She said 43% of those helped by the food bank are children....
- poor and working poor families,
- elderly men and women whose government checks are inadequate, mentally and physically handicapped people,
- battered women,
- people struggling with HIV and AIDS,
- the homeless.
The poverty of Miami exists in startling juxtaposition to great wealth. Just a few minutes' drive from the panhandling turf...are the sparkling shores of Miami Beach and the gateway to the pristine environs of Fisher Island, an exclusive enclave that, according to the 2000 Census, is the wealthiest community in America. Fisher Is. is off limits to everyone except residents, invited guests and whatever employees are needed to keep them safe and comfortable. It is accessible only by ferry....
The Miami area is the most extreme example of the economic inequality that is becoming more and more evident throughout the U.S. If the gap between the folks at the top and those at the bottom continues to grow, it will at some point undermine the social cohesion of the nation.
[The Eloi and the Morlocks.]
Anyone who thinks it's a good idea for the pampered elite of Fisher Is. to stockpile more and more in the way of luxuries and privilege while increasing numbers of Miamians are going to bed hungry, should think again.
[Oh now, there's a sci fi for you - instead of the "army of the poor," a navy of the poor in a flottila as ragtag as that of the Dunkirk evacuation lands on Fisher Is. and hordes of the unwashed swarm o'er the "pristine environs" looting and pillaging. Of course, the real solution is to modernize our technology of sharing, and that means implementing systemic work-sharing, first on corporate and municipal, then on regional and state, then on industry- and nation-wide levels.]
1/14/2003 homelessness in the news -
- New York in deal on homeless issue - Panel is first step in settling 20-year fight over rights, by Leslie Kaufman, NYT, front page.
NYC and lawyers representing the homeless...took an extraordinary first step yesterday toward ending a 20-year-old lawsuit over the rights of homeless families. In the deal, they agreed to create an independent panel with broad powers to help the city shape its long-range policy for such families.
For the last 2 decades, almost every aspect of the city's approach to handling the homeless families has been contested in court - from how quickly the families must be placed in shelters to the availability of baby bottle warmers in the office where they first enter the system. The disputes have led to millions of dollars in fines for the city, and created a situation in which a state judge has dictated many of the particulars of city policy....
Getting the courts out of the shelters, editorial, NYT, A34.
NYC's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has made a habit of taking a fresh and aggressive approach to problems that have tied his predecessors in knots. The latest and most striking example came yesterday when his administration reached a landmark agreement with the Legal Aid Society, which has been waging courtroom war against the city for 20 years over the way homeless families and individuals should be housed and cared for....
1/10/2003 homelessness in the news -
- Key West trying to put new locks on paradise, by Dana Canedy, NYT, A14.
...Key West officials devised what they thought was just the solution: ship the city's downtrodden 150 miles north to Miami-Dade County and pay its centers to take in the "unfortunate individuals" who sleep on public benches and harass tourists for beer money. The city sent such a proposal last month to a dozen homeless shelters in Miami, lookinf for takers. "We are exploring the possibility that the city could...pay you a daily fee for a set time," an ass't city manager, John Jones, wrote to the shelters, none of which have taken him up on the offer....
- ...Key West is concerned about too many homeless and cruise ships..\.. [caption of photo of cruise ship from a dock on which lies a homeless man]
- Curtis Huggins says he has been homeless in Key West since 1991. He likes this spot [hunkered beside a building on a busy street] because of a nearby bar's music. "I don't panhandle," he says. [caption of first (large) photo]
Advocates for the homeless in Miami, who seem almost insulted by the offer from Key West, say they could not handle a huge influx of people seeking shelter even if they were inclined to. "Our system is maxed-out trying to deal with our own homeless situation," said Hilda Ferandez, exec. dir. of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. Ms. Fernandez said there were about 4,100 homeless people in Miami-Dade, filling the county's shelters every night..\..
Tom Sauls [is] a Key West native and carpet installer [who] fell on hard times last year and has been homeless since.... He says he has lived here all his life and has no intention of leaving.... Mr. Sauls...lives in one of the few homeless shelters here..\..
"It's not against the law to be homeless, but it is against the law to harass tourists and damage land," Mr. Jones said.... "We're totally dependent on tourism, and they run tourists away"..\.. Last month, Key West closed a small stretch of public beach, which officials complained had been turned into an open-air bathroom by the homeless. The city also cracked down on sleeping under bridges. This week, the city commission gave the first of 2 required approvals to an ordinance extending its no-panhandling zone farther out of the tourist-driven commercial districts and to an ordinance forbidding people to camp out around the environmentally sensitive mangroves. ...Leaders have even scheduled a "homeless summit" for next month to find solutions to the problem.
...Rev. Steve Braddock, exec. dir. of the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, which runs the shelter where Mr. Sauls lives, said Key West and surrounding Monroe County had less than half the beds needed for an estimated 2,000 homeless people. Rather than shipping them elsewhere, he said, a more humane approach would be for the city and business community to provide the money for more shelters..\..
[And rather than just throwing more money at an unlimitedly growing situation, a more sustainable approach would be for the city and business community to establish overtime-to-training&hiring conversion and a flexible workweek that adjusts downward as needed to employ all the non-self-supporting people in Key West and share the limted work and skills.]
Key West officials say they have also had enough of another group, passengers who come onto the island daily off the mammoth cruise ships that dock here. Hardly big spenders, the passengers pay a few dollars for ice cream cones and cheap T-shirts before heading back to the ships for dinner, officials say. These thousands of cruise passengers who linger for a few hours create long lines for the regular vacationers in cafes and gift shops, threatening a certain [exclusive] expectation of a Key West Experience, the officials say.... "All of a sudden, you get 6,000 passengers on the streets," Mayor Jimmy Weekley said. "It's overwhelming. I would like to see a limit in the number of cruise ships that come in per day."
[Forget absolute limits. Just keep raising the port charges until you valve the number on the streets that you want.]
...With Key West receiving about $8.50 in port charges per passenger, the city has taken no formal action to limit ship access to its docks....
1/05/2003 homelessness in the news -
- Homeless out-of-towners welcome - Families rely on [NY] city's vast shelter system for a place to live, by Leslie Kaufman, NYT, A21.
All three are or have been residents of the city's homeless shelters....
- Ramon Almestica came from Puerto Rico seeking a better standard of living.
- Rosland Jackson fled an abusive boyfriend in North Carolina who had tried to abduct her youngest child.
[Well, if he reads the Times, he'll find her now.]
- Jacqueline Garcia and her family [husband Peter and 3 kids, Eladio, Yusmary & Anessa, in photo] were evicted from their apartment in Miami while vacationing [like we believe that!] in New York and [surprise!] have been here ever since.
[NYC must have the most liberal policies going.]
New York is the only city under court order to provide shelter immediately to any people who can prove they need it, regardless of their origin or immigration status.
[Hooboy - wonder how long this will last. Watch - the stopgap is tightening the definition of "prove."]
As a result, it has perhaps the most tolerant admissions policies and greatest array of services and housing to offer its homeless clients..\..
In Oct., the most recent month for which data were available, 10% of those seeking assistance at the Emergency Assistance Unit, the city's primary intake office for homeless families, reported that they spent the previous night outside the 5 boroughs;
[Ah, the famed 5 boroughs of NYC. Let's see if we can name them: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Is., and ?? - hafta ask colleague Kate, she's from the Bronx - oops, that's it. (Or then, there's the 5 burros, from colleague Paul S. Simmons: Pedro, Juan, Rosarita, Maria and Manuelito.)]
historically, the monthly average, which fluctuates, has been closer to 5-6%, city data show. Of the 16,628 families that applied for shelter in the first 10 months of 2002, 2,681, or 16.1%, lived outside the city a month earlier, according to an average of city figures. (Homeless individuals are not asked to report where they were last housed.)
Behind the statistics lies a debate that has long caused rifts in other cities, like San Francisco and Santa Monica, Calif., that have generous policies toward the homeless: are the families truly in need, or are they using an already overburdened system as a taxpayer-financed relocation [or permanent housing] service?
[The on-the-job training and the well-paying entry-level jobs just aren't there (note they were there during and after World War II and during World War I, and going back further, during the Great Plague in England - can you guess why?), so we won't really be in a position to get tough until we implement the kind of full-employment capitalism that is possible only with automatic overtime-to-training&hiring conversion and automatic fluctuation of the workweek vs. comprehensively defined unemployment/non-self-support. Meanwhile, we fudge along with bandaids, like fiddling with that definition of "prove" -]
The Dept. of Homeless Services investigates each family to evaluate whether there might be relatives who can offer shelter.
[Oh yeah, that has a great chance of success after what we've done to families in our frozen-workweek-borne labor-surplus economy (let alone to extended families). Hence all our cloying 'conservative' lip service to "family" and "The Chiiildren."]
Some homeless families readily admit that they sought help from the city, through the Emergency Assistance Unit office in the Bronx, after [hearing others] had found apartments with the help of the unit's caseworkers. But advocates for the homeless say that for the most part, families are not exploiting the city's homeless policy, but they come to live with relatives or for economic opportunities and end up in the shelters when things do not turn out as expected....
[We repeat, the on-the-job training and the well-paying entry-level jobs just aren't there, and won't be there until we modify downsizing capitalism into timesizing capitalism.]
- [And we aren't the only ones with this problem -]
Moscow Journal - Minus 4[°F] on mean streets: Nonpersons are dying, by Steven Myers, NYT, A4.
A police officer patrolling Red Square. [photo] Since the onset of winter, 272 people have frozen to death on Moscow's streets, underscoring the plight of the city's least fortunate. Muscovites are often hostile toward the homeless.
[Aren't we all - because there, "but for the grace of God," go we. It's too close. It's too direct a reminder that our vaunted "advanced civilization" and "high" technology and superior "intelligence" is a failure. They represent an insult to our claims to intelligence. A mockery. And the only economic system that's solved it is Timesizing, which can be spun as a mere minor modification to either capitalism or socialism, since it's a true Third Way, that kinda takes off at a right angle from our current "scientific" economists' self-referencing self-congratulation. We're stuck in a material world. But back to Russian homelessness, and since we've run out of photo caption, back to the article's text -]
...Advocates say the homeless - known here, pejoratively, as "bomzhy," the Russian acronym for people "without a specific place of residence" - receive little support from the government and, often, outward hostility from the police and the public. On average, about 400 die each winter, some found only when the spring thaw melts banks of snow where the victims fell. For much of the last month, temperatures in Moscow have routinely fallen below -4°F...the coldest winter in 2 decades..\..compared with an average of +14....
The city estimates there are 35,000 homeless in Moscow, though advocates say the government's own statistics suggest there may be as many as 100,000 [1%] in a city of 10,000,000.... The city operates 12 homeless shelters, but they have a capacity of only 1,600. [However,] Vladimir Korushin, the deputy of the city's social security committee, said that even now they were far[?] from full [4 of 30 beds empty in their example]. "We cannot force [the homeless] to go [into the shelters]," he said. ...Since November...the shelters have been ordered to accept anyone....
For earlier homelessness stories, click on the desired date -
- Homeless cited in mouthwash thefts - High alcoholic content spurs street popularity, by David Abel, Boston Globe, B1.
...In recent months, with more homeless on city streets, police say downtown convenience stores have seen a spate of thefts. The most stolen item: mouthwash. At $3.99 for a 50-ounce bottle, Listerine and similar brands pack a punch - with as much as 27% alcohol content, compared with about 12% for the typical bottle of wine. Another perk: drinking it is legal. Police can't arrest anyone for drinking mouthwash in public..\..
It's when the shakes start, sometime after midnight or on a Sunday afternoon, that Michael McGaulin sets out to score a bottle of "cheap whiskey" or what merchants call "wine for the homeless." ...Says McGaulin,..."I can't stand the taste, but it carriers me over; it prevents the seizures."...
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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