[Hpn] Homelessness chosen? Ted Hayes of LA Dome Village opines. Your view? view?

john macpherson nyceguy50@yahoo.com
Tue, 5 Dec 2000 10:01:08 -0800 (PST)

In all honesty I think that most homeless desire
housing and a place to call home. The biggest problem
is out of the third that is easily diagnosed by
entering the "system" most of those are not adiquitly
served and go back to there old lifestyle.  It is this
disalusionment that must be addressed, and not by the
statistics of weather or not they have completed the
program.  it is clear to me that the two thirds that
are not in the system are either on a waiting list to
get assistance or have realized that there is no
solution. The later of which holds the greater
solution and the individual is resolved to that fact. 
This is there choice by the fact that there is no
other choices available for our "disposable society."
I use this  term because it is the politically correct
one to use behind the closed meeting doors of my
governor.  The political leaders clearly claim that it
is cheaper to euphonize those that have fallen through
the cracks by sweeping them aside and use them for
fill, then to fix the broken part.

Our choice is a long term solution where the homeless
can maintain a simpler lifestyle and become accepted
in our social structure. Give us neighborhood vacant
lots and let us develop it according to our needs with
a "landlord" that is one of us.  Give us a barter
system of vouchers, some whom may be exempt from
duties due to their own disability.  Many of us are
capable of becoming part of the local micro-economy in
cleanup projects, volunteer work, home repair etc. The
landlord would assure to the committees made up of the
social service agency, police, and neighborhood
association. Put a cap on the population count for
safety reasons of the neighborhood.
In this sense we can afford to rent community centers
at night and be gone during business hours to our day
centers or jobs. This is an important step to "self
sufficiency," and "mainstream," at a self paced
program. If we learn to fear the community health
safety and welfare agencies by them letting us down in
times of need who are we to trust. This type of
program is on that can follow a persons individual
needs for their life, offering hope and community
acceptance.  Sure there are those that will say no to
such a program from all sides. I believe that such a
program is better than any that I currently see since
the collapse of the cradle to the grave type welfare
system, as a catch all. 

> Do most homeless people simply "choose" to be
> homeless?
> If so, what and who "chooses our available choices"?
> By Jill Stewart
> With Thanksgiving here and a crisp chill in the air,
> my thoughts turn
> to Los Angeles' estimated 200,000 homeless. But my
> thoughts are not in
> step with the usual theories and feelings about the
> homeless that
> polite society finds acceptable.
> The seemingly intractable problem of homelessness in
> this and every
> other American city was supposed to ease up during
> this historic
> economic boom. But nothing has changed; if anything,
> the homeless
> problem has grown.
> It doesn't matter how many celebrities show up
> during the holidays to
> serve soup, or how many nonprofit,
> single-room-occupancy hotels get
> funded by the state and city, or how many hundreds
> of new drug
> treatment centers open because of the passage of
> Proposition 35. It
> doesn't even matter that employers are begging
> able-bodied people to
> take the thousands of unfilled jobs in L.A.
> Just as I predicted several months ago, the 4.5
> percent unemployment
> rate and the extreme shortage of workers is having
> no measurable effect
> on the city's mass population of homeless. It's time
> to shake off the
> middle-class guilt and talk about why.
> Yet I know of only a handful of people knowledgeable
> on this subject
> who are willing to honestly and publicly say why. In
> city hall, the
> most powerful people who understand the homeless
> problem will talk
> about why it has been impossible to make a dent, but
> only off the
> record. It is, one city hall elected leader told me,
> "seen as horribly
> uncharitable and politically disastrous to discuss
> the truth."
> And the truth is that the homeless, to a very large
> degree, simply do
> not want to reenter mainstream society.
> Virtually every homeless program on Skid Row and in
> Santa Monica, and
> virtually every homeless program funded by Los
> Angeles County, was
> designed by middle-class people with middle-class
> values. Underpinning
> virtually every one of these programs is the belief
> that the homeless
> want what the middle-class has: nine-to-five jobs,
> tax returns, a
> mortgage.
> Every program designed with mainstreaming in mind is
> attempting to
> serve a category of homeless people who I believe
> make up only a tiny
> slice of the actual homeless population. A
> significant number of the
> homeless reject the nine-to-five world, and the
> current economic boom
> has proved this with painful clarity.
> Another city hall leader who gets it, but can't say
> it publicly for
> fear of being attacked as a heartless bastard, says:
> "I look at the
> homeless now, after all the years of efforts and all
> the programs that
> have come and gone, and I can almost see them
> laughing at the suits
> hurrying to their jobs. There is a defiance that is
> hard to understand,
> and maybe impossible to address. The bottom line is,
> many of them are
> choosing homelessness."
> God, what a heartless bastard!
> Ted Hayes, the director of the Dome Village homeless
> encampment two
> blocks from the Staples Center downtown, is reviled
> by many homeless
> advocates -- white, middle-class people for the most
> part -- because he
> insists on straight talk about the homeless, and it
> is not a pretty
> thing to hear.
> "People focus a lot of attention on the so-called
> mentally ill and pour
> a lot of mercy onto them," says Hayes. "But those
> supposedly one-third
> of the homeless are the easiest to reach with
> programs and can be the
> most easily manipulated into being helped. The
> problem is the other two-
> thirds, and honestly I believe the figure is much
> higher than two-
> thirds, who do not want to get a nine-to-five job,
> and they do not want
> the burden of paying rent and utilities."
> The fact that many of the homeless do not want to
> drop back into
> society is an ugly secret the homeless services
> industry will never cop
> to because it would put a major crimp in their
> fund-raising efforts,
> which are built upon a foundation of middle-class
> guilt.
> The media is equally complicit in hammering guilt
> into all of us and
> choking off serious debate. Journalists rarely quote
> the homeless who
> are not desperate to get their old lives back.
> That's not the story
> they have been trained to find. Among the roughly
> 200,000 homeless in
> Los Angeles, it is not hard to find a quotable soul
> who says all the
> right things about being homeless. And find them,
> reporters always do.
> Check your local newspaper this week, and there will
> be a sad story
> about a man with incredibly bad luck, out on the
> streets, spiraling
> into alcoholism or addiction, desperate to get back
> to his middle-class
> or working-class reality.
> But why are there tens of thousands of people,
> mostly men, huddled in
> cardboard boxes while employers in L.A. County go
> begging for unskilled
> workers to fill long-open jobs? Jack Kyser, of the
> Economic Development
> Corporation, which tracks economic indicators in the
> L.A. region, says
> that thousands of jobs are going begging in the
> county. A severe
> shortage of both unskilled and skilled workers is to
> blame. "We are
> importing people here to fill the jobs, and still it
> is not enough,"
> says Kyser.
> I have interviewed hundreds of the homeless over the
> years. They have
> included former radio disc jockeys, construction
> workers, teachers, day
> laborers, union members, mothers, runaway teens, and
> even a few
> intellectuals. Like the rest of my brethren, when I
> came upon a
> homeless person who did not have a tangled and
> tragic story to tell, my
> notebook remained closed and I moved on until I
> found one who did. I
> did not realize, in those years, what a disservice I
> was doing.
> The homeless problem will grow as long as the
> middle-class types who
> have controlled the debate for years continue to
> repress all chance of
> honest -- if painful -- discussion. This is an area
> rife with guilt
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