Compassion is a beautiful thing.
Just as humans are naturally self-interested, we are also (no matter what those who hate all humans say) capable of great compassion. In those terms, btw, Americans are probably the most generous people in the world. Not just in terms of the money that flows in to any victims of disasters, but if you have any minor contretemps in public, people rush in to help.
I remember a very minor thing: the kids had Irish caps for the winter, growing up. Mostly because I had one, and they liked it, and it was the only way to keep it safe. Robert “lost” his one day at the grocery store (turned out he hadn’t. He’d “lost” it in our car. But never mind.) Before we left there, the clerks had bought him a cap to console him, and given him pennies for the horsey ride. (He was like… 3.) Just because this little kid was crying inconsolably. (But not loudly, mind.)
When Dan was briefly unemployed about 20 years ago, neighbors kept dropping big cardboard boxes of canned and boxed food on our front porch, like once a month. We don’t know who. It just happened, because the kids had told someone at the school. (It was welcome, though at the time our money worries weren’t food-related. We still had the larder of the apocalypse. But just knowing people cared helped. It also amused me, because in our small hippie-dippy mountain town, half of what we got was gourmet/organic.)
We, ourselves, send out money/help to people we know about once a month (not the last year, because for various reasons we’ve been so tight, we squeak. This too shall pass. But we normally do that en lieu of say a vacation once a year.) It’s no hardship. We know it will come around. And besides it feels good to help people. I think humans are wired that way. You get a little mood-boost.
Note all these cases are individuals helping individuals.
In fact, in all but cases of disaster or famine (and notice those haven’t really happened anywhere in the world in the last 10 years or so) we help individuals. Which means it’s not deductible, but we also know exactly where our money is going. And if we make a mistake and help those who don’t benefit by it, we regroup and move on.
These days I’m not even sure about big, organized charities. I used to give reflexively to the Red Cross because they helped US back in Portugal when we were in need. But the things I’ve heard recently… yeah, no.
So, what is this in the name of: homeless.
Oleg Volk, probably the best photographer working today (and the only one who makes me look good. I have a face that looks like a cross between a pumpkin and a potato in most photographs. You know how the camera adds ten pounds? imagine me strapped with cameras all over.) visited the Denver area and was shocked at all the AGGRESSIVE homeless.
I confess we hadn’t noticed. We rarely go downtown and when we do it’s usually for specific events/things where we park and take short routes to the museum/restaurant/whatever.
Also, honestly, we saw this happen in Colorado Springs while we lived close to downtown, and also I grew up in a large Atlantic port city, which means “being pursued on the street by a crazy man calling you names” was so “normal” for a young woman as to make it into song lyrics as an example of an annoying thing. I carry a knife. I don’t behave like a victim. My eye edits out homeless.
Yes I know, I’m an evil nasty person. Which was the conclusion someone had on a thread on Facebook, when I said we don’t have a lack of affordable housing, we have a lack of mental health services authorized to commit those who won’t stay on treatment and are dangerous to themselves and others.
In fact, this seems to be the general leftist view, now that homeless exist again — of course they didn’t, under Obama. All those homeless populations were just illusions of your lying, capitalist eyes — that if you’re not willing to throw a lot of money at the problem, then you’re evil, heartless and “authoritarian.” (That last one is a complete confusion.)
Before you jump on me on the “price of housing” yes, I know it’s a problem in many places in the country, mostly deep blue areas. (And Denver is one of those.)
Most millennials I know did some time “homeless” and many of them what I’d call “real homeless.”
But the post I was commenting on, referred to what I call “deep homeless.” Chronic homelessness, with aggressive behavior towards businesses and passersby.
There are roughly three categories of “homeless.” They are conflated by the government for the purpose of getting more tax money to throw at it, but they are really QUITE different, and the solutions to them are not only not uniform, but “throw money at it” hurts the “deep homeless.”
The first level of homeless I doubt there’s anyone who hasn’t hit it at some point. We did 26 years ago when we moved to Colorado. We returned the keys to our rental in South Carolina. Had all our belongings transported and stored in Denver. Stayed in a hotel in Colorado Springs (the old Drury Inn) for two weeks, while we tried to find a place to rent. It wasn’t easy because everyone in MCI had just moved from DC to the Springs and there was a shortage of housing units. (Which is how we ended up downtown at the corner of Cache la Poudre and Weber, in a student apartment. And loved it.)
We were “homeless.” Our mail went to “general mail” at the downtown zipcode, and we had to ask for it. And, stuck in a hotel room with a toddler, I was pulling my hair out in great handfuls. Particularly when the kid got sick.
Did we need help? Well, no. We needed time (since Dan started his job immediately) which we didn’t really have, to look for a place to rent. We were tight has hell. A lot of the stuff in the refinishing mysteries, about having to live on pancakes was from there. But we weren’t homeless-homeless. We were just between homes, and tight, which is not unusual for a young couple who just had a difficult (emergency Cesarean) delivery while on COBRA.
Then there’s the second category of homeless, those that could probably benefit from a little help: some money to stay in a hotel, maybe. Some help finding work. Maybe a few meals.
These are the people used to portray homeless in every book and movie and tv show, btw. People who are basically decent, middle class, temporarily embarrassed.
As I said almost every millennial I know has done time like this. Usually a lost job, and a move to try to find work lands them in this. Some were homeless for six months to a year.
And then there are places like California, or NYC where the building restrictions and regulations make it impossible to find housing that anyone making less than six figures can afford, even with roommates. I hear of medical residents hot-bunking with six people in a 300sq foot apartment. And a friend brought up silicon valley. I know I have a couple of friends there, making good money and living in their cars and showering at the Y. I know this because when I offer signed books they explain they just want ebooks, because space.
Do those people need help? Hell yeah. In the case of CA and NYC they need thorazine applied to their “elected” (SO MUCH FRAUD.) officials until they get over their “green” and elitist obsessions. I’m honestly surprised there aren’t people with yellow vests on the streets.
The others, in other parts of the country? They might need help finding jobs/making accommodations with student loans. They might need nearby friends who can invite them to dinner. Government is not the solution. Throwing money at homelessness is not the solution. Mostly because you get more of what you pay for, and trying to help the people in this category will GROW (massively) the number of people in deep homelessness in your city. Because they are people very adept at exploiting charity and benevolence and they’ll move where there’s more “benefits.” The big problem with downtown in the Springs was a combination of the Marian House giving “no questions asked” generous help and the city laws going very lax on homelessness. To the point of giving them places to shoot up in the city park.
The problem is that no government is equipped to distinguish between “homeless for six months to a year while they find their feet” and “deep homeless.”
The “deep homeless.” This falls under “dirty and menacing, and chronic.”
The problem there is not that we aren’t throwing money at it, but that we make it WAY too easy to live like that.
It has turned our downtowns into places that normal human beings avoid (no amount of cheery banners on light poles or festivals makes up for having someone who is high as a kite rush at you saying they’re going to kill you.) It has — at least in the Springs it did — destroyed small businesses. Downtowns are becoming just restaurants, only at night, and even then they need some kind of security at the door. It has turned libraries into homeless shelters, to the point legitimate patrons are afraid to go in, and more importantly to take their children in.
And when people who don’t like being menaced and threatened move to suburbs, we get called heartless and “racists.” (For the record, 90% of the homeless I see are white. As much as you can tell what they are.)
Again, the problem is that we give these people TOO MUCH. I saw the problem grow in the downtown are in Colorado Springs, and to the extent that I did all my business there on foot, I HEARD their conversations.
These people don’t want to clean up. They don’t want jobs. Most of them have mental health or addiction problems. I heard young people (though they didn’t look it, because meth is a hell of a drug) talk about how they could go home but the parents would require them to go clean and they wanted to be “free.” And they were. Free to get free meals everywhere, free to shoot up on the streets. Free to wander into local businesses being menacing and evil.
The problem is that most middle class people — particularly those not coming in contact with these people — and just about all do-gooders in government look at that last sentence and see the homeless as the victims, and the businesses as “fat cats” who should “be afflicted” because they’re “comfortable.”
Most of the businesses who get in trouble with this are small businesses: cafes, restaurants, used bookstores. They can’t afford to have a burly person with great people skills at the door to turn away the invaders who come in and scare away their customers. Most of the owners aren’t rich. They’re barely making it. Add this stress and fewer customers… and they go under. And become people in distress themselves.
The deep homeless? They don’t care. If one place turns harsh, they bus to the next place where the pickings are good. And the more services you offer to “help” the homeless the more this category of people will descend on your city and kill business and make it unsafe for tax payers.
Note, I’m not …. uncaring. These people are in legitimate distress. It’s a distress they’re not even aware of. Most of them are mentally ill and addicted, and those who weren’t when they “dropped out” of society to live “free” have since become so. Why? Because they have no structure to their days. Nothing is required of them. The left treats them as pets who are given leftovers and asked for nothing in return.
This is not good for humans. Humans need some kind of social structure. They need to be required to do something for their keep, even if it’s just “take a shower and don’t menace people.” Though “Stop doing drugs” also helps.
The problem is that for people to change at that level requires motivation. We have amazing psychiatric drugs, but they require people to take them regularly which — duh — mentally ill people are NOT good at.
What is the solution? I am deeply, deeply suspicious of involuntary commitment, mostly because it was used in so many “socialist” (aka communist) countries to confine anyone who opposed the regime. (If you don’t like our lovely utopia, you’re mentally ill, comrade.)
That said, there must be a point at which “unsafe to self and others” kicks in.
There is no point giving the deep homeless money or housing. They’ll end up where they were in days or weeks, and leave a trashed place in their wake. They are often covalent to what I call “the permanent semi-criminal population” i.e. assault, theft, that sort of thing are kind of in the spectrum.
And they won’t get better just by having money and benes thrown at them. In fact, being treated like pets turns them into a sort of animal, undisciplined, demanding and completely remorseless.
Feral humans are like that.
Also as some of the newer “designer” drugs hit, these populations are often outright dangerous to random strangers.
So… what is the solution? Well, for one I think that we need serious vagrancy laws. And then we need private people to weigh in and find the difference between the two kinds of homeless and help those who can be helped.
Rehabilitation? Mental health help?
They have to WANT it. And the only way to want make them want it is to make their current way of life UNCOMFORTABLE.
Contrary to what people abroad think, our homeless are not a symptom of the failure of capitalism, but of its success. Even in a harsh climate like Colorado, there is enough free shelter, enough free meals to keep people going without their doing anything to deserve it.
But the flip side of that, because there really ain’t any such thing as a free lunch is that those people are making the whole economy less healthy and life in general less pleasant in the affected areas.
And throwing more of the region’s wealth at them will only attract more of them.
It’s time to try civilization. It’s time to try treating them as human beings who can exert some measure of self-control or be hospitalized until they can.
Because the alternative is to let the aggressive and addicted destroy the rest of society.