[Hpn] Re: The Gates Swing Open

Coalition on Homelessness, SF coh@sfo.com
Tue, 12 Sep 2000 17:53:01 -0700

Hey Adam and Tim -

I could certainly imagine that Bill Gates would be anxious to throw 
his money at any project that might serve to brighten his public 
image, which has taken quite a beating in the courts and press 
lately. Homeless families could certainly use some help. But who does 
transitional housing really benefit?

Let's spell this out. Transitional housing offers a safe, clean and 
decent place to live - but only for a finite length of time: be it 
for a year, eighteen months, even two years. At the end of that time 
period the family must move on.

Unless the plan to create $40 million in new transitional housing for 
families is part of a continuum which includes permanent low-income 
housing - unless there's a "there" where homeless families can 
"transition" to - the net result is, at best, a temporary and 
inadequate bandage applied to the hemorrhaging numbers of homeless 
families. And unless the Seattle area's housing crunch is 
miraculously alleviated within the window of time allotted to 
homeless families in transitional housing, they will doubtlessly 
become homeless again as they return to square one in the savage game 
of urban displacement.

The big winners are going to be all those "case managers" and 
"soft-skills trainers" and the like who are part and parcel of 
"transitional" housing - making the housing more expensive, and 
perpetuating the myth of "housing readiness" for homeless families in 
the bargain. And just exactly how many of those well-paying jobs such 
a transitional housing program would create will represent an 
opportunity for any of those families to exit homelessness? Just call 
me Mr. Skeptic.

Besides the homeless families, it looks like the biggest loser in 
this scam is going to be your state's Housing Trust Fund. Somehow, 
I'm really not very surprised that it won't actually be spent toward 
bricks and mortar.

That is why I am nominating Mr. Bill Gates for Poverty Pimp of the 
Year 2000. He rakes in publicity for his humanitarian posturing by 
offering a needlessly expensive non-solution - one that will be 
ultimately more damaging to the development of those homeless 
children - and helps promote the lie that there must be some flaw 
with homeless parents that caused their situation.

Speaking as a regular user of Microsoft Word '98 for Macintosh, I 
would say Gates seems to be following the same strategy for his 
"humanitarian" efforts as he does for marketing his software. Why 
force people into something they don't need? Why can't Gates just 
recognize and serve the basic need: permanent, low-income affordable 


chance martin, Editor
A Publication of the Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco

ps- your url looks BEAUTIFUL. now, if you could just import the 
articles from text-only files, you can get rid of those pesky 

pps- Protest Corporate Media!
        Slam the NAB in San Francisco Sept. 20-23
        Details at www.mediademocracynow.org

Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco
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