[Hpn] Re: Homelessness chosen? Ted Hayes of LA Dome Village opines.
Fri, 08 Dec 2000 22:48:48 -0700
OK, Tom. You wanted me to go off on Ted Hayes. I can't blame you (you DO
love hot discourse), and I'm tempted, but my own views are only that. I was
pretty angry about Ted Hayes' antics during d2kla, and all the work we were
doing to connect the broader issues of poverty and homelessness to the
larger struggle against corporate globalization suffered mightily from his
grandstanding. We had some success at forging new alliances, but lots of
folks were kind of leery of "homeless advocates," thanks to iconoclast Ted.
But I had my say, I disseminated it widely, and I put it behind me. I don't
see how igniting a flame war with a guy who dresses like Elvis is going
benefit any homeless person.
Mr. Hayes and I have some pretty widely divergent views, yet we articulate
many of the same goals and ideals. Sounds like there might be a common
thread among many communities. That commonality is the important part, and
it's our job as homeless advocates to build from it.
The idea that homeless people want to stay outside of society and be left
alone plays right into the quality-of-lifers' rhetoric, as do many of of
Hayes' soundbites. And literal thousands of homeless people whose input COH
has documented solidly dispute that notion. In fact, the majority opinion
among the clear majority of the many people we've met during our outreaches,
focus groups, surveys, and even the Homeless People's Congress we held last
year have identified permanent affordable housing as their number one
concern and need.
But I know from experience that only represents majority opinion among the
homeless people we've contacted. I've known many homeless people who have
been so abused by our society and institutions that they would rather stay
outside, too. I once knew more than a few folks in Golden Gate park who had
lived outside since they returned from Viet Nam. Most who could tell you why
could only explain "I can't sleep inside." And there were just as many
survivors of the Loma Prieta quake who told the same story.
Since Mayor Brown has taken office, the last of the (known) permanent camps
have been cleared from Buena Vista and Golden Gate parks, vacant industrial
areas are fast disappearing, transportation easements are regularly cleared
of camps, and quality-of-life harassment of homeless people has become a
treasured sport for a surprisingly small minority of really fucking sick
Outdoor living in SF today is a day to day fight against a many-headed
beast. It's a fight too many people are losing in the face of relentless
quality-of-life enforcement. And this winter has been unusually cold.
When Hayes says there's folks who want no part of this sad charade we call
society, he ain't lying. Now, if he could produce hard documentation that
the majority of homeless people in LA shared his view, there would be no
argument. How can you dispute the majority opinion? Somehow, I seriously
doubt that his remarks represent a majority opinion, or that Hayes can
support his quality-of-life rhetoric through documentation. As far as his
own opinion goes, isn't this the guy who chose to live among "the homeless?"
Yeah, right. Go cry me a fucking river.
Whatever his motives might be, there are some helpful guides to
understanding the influences that shape his reactionary comments. First, if
you go to the California Attorney General's website, you can easily find the
most recent IRS form 990 (titled Return of Organization Exempt from Income
Tax) for Justiceville, which is the parent nonprofit for Dome Village.
Justiceville's FY 1998 income was $270,688. $249,583 of that came directly
from HUD. Without even dissecting the absolute travesty that HUD housing
programs represent, it's no small wonder why this guy literally wraps
himself in the amerikkkan flag. But the same form also shows Hayes' 1998
salary as $30,996, which hardly puts him in the pimp range. In fact, it's
only 5k more than the common salary in this (COH) organization.
There is, however, the cricket team he's organized from street kids in south
central. I personally think it's an admirable effort, and it gets him lots
of good press. But it stinks of possible "weed and seed" money, and it also
creates a great way for Hayes and Katherine Haber, Jucticeville's E.D., to
go on periodic global junkets. I haven't been as successful at finding the
funding streams for the "Homies" and the "Popz" yet, but I'm curious to see
if there's other salaries to supplement the Justiceville dough.
Then there's a little trail that leads to a their media consulting firm,
Heifetz Communications Corporation "ebusiness and project management."
They're basically a "new media" consulting outfit with a new age kink. It
raises questions of how much of that annual quarter million dollars minimum
is earmarked for this service. Check out their url, provided below. Here's
a shivery little sample of one page, titled:
What We Do
We are a unique consulting partner. Creative. Imaginative. Holistic.
Wholesome. Intuitive. Inspirational.
* We prepare you to excel in today's market
* We support your transition from traditional to
* We give you the tools to benefit from change
* We help you develop new ways to think
Our Business Services Include:
* Defining your objectives, goals, and mission
* Identifying trends in your industry
* Determining ways your company and its brands can grow
* Analyzing your competition
Our Internet Services Include:
* Defining your strategy and setting your goals
* Developing delicious content for your Site
* Creating efficient and enjoyable commerce capabilities
* Identifying and negotiating partner relationships
* Being your project manager: overseeing your Site process from concept
through development to launch
Our Consensus Building Services Include:
* Facilitating off-site events
* Establishing a harmonious culture
Our Spiritual Services Include:
* Providing enlightenment with meditations, blessings, and clearings
* Incorporating rituals
("incorporating ritual" sounds like a very unholy marriage of commerce and
spirituality to me.)
So the writing on the wall tells me Hayes is going to branch his celebrity
into the corporatized internet in a big way soon. That, and the recent
announcement that Hayes has thrown in with THE BIG ISSUE, a global
publication distinguished chiefly by the fact that it exploits homeless
people to market it are clear indications the Mr. Hayes ain't going away.
I respect that.
But I don't really understand how these moves serve anyone more than Ted
Hayes. I'm pretty clear how Ted and the people in this organization are
different. When you look closely enough to really get a good picture of Ted
Hayes, there's lots of room for caution.
I refuse to write Ted Hayes off today, for better or for worse, because I
believe in organizing, and Ted and I stand for many of the same things. We
also have some pretty severe differences (like I'm an anarchist, for one),
not only in philosophy but also methodology. But organizing is much more a
matter of building respect than agreement. No homeless advocate can speak
for all homeless people, they can only speak for those they can engage.
After that it all reverts to personal opinion.
PS- some Hayes urls. judge for yourselves, HPN'ers.
his internet pr firm
Let's just say that if complete and utter chaos were lightning, he'd be the
sort to stand on a mountain in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and
shouting "All gods are bastards."
Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
468 Turk St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
415 / 346.3740 - voice
415 / 775.5639 - fax