Re: "service offers" accompany "homeless sweeps"

Bonnie Briggs (
Wed, 28 Jul 1999 08:29:34 PDT

Hi gang,
  "Tough love" isn't going to help the homeless. It's not going to take them 
to where they need or want to be. It's basically telling the homeless, "it's 
your fault you're homeless, this is for your own good." Again, the homeless 
are victimized. When are people going to realize that it's not their fault? 
When are they going to see that the homeless are just trying to survive? 
Shipping the homeless off isn't going to solve the problem. All that's doing 
is just moving the problem to another location. The homeless will still be 
homeless and the place they're shipped to may have even less resources than 
where they came from.
  The homeless do not need finger-wagging, they do not need tsk, tsk'ing, 
they do not need patronizing, THEY NEED HOMES! Putting them into apartments 
is fine, but what about someone who has been on the streets for a long time? 
They often can't make the leap from the street to a renting situation, they 
need some kind of transitional housing to help them take that big step. Is 
TEN-4 willing to provide that kind of housing? I think not. What about the 
vacancy rate? What if there are no apartments for the homeless to move into? 
What kind of apartments are they getting? You can't just shove people into 
any old crappy apartment and call them housed. They need decent, affordable, 
bug-free, close-to-services apartments.
  If homeless people are "harassing" shoppers, it's probably because they 
need money to eat or to pay rent. I'm really sick of this blanket assumption 
that homeless people drink or drug away all their money. Granted, there are 
a few that do that. It's their way of escaping their situations. How many 
housed and rich people are serious drug addicts and alcoholics? No one ever 
goes after them. I think the problem is the rich and housed don't want the 
homeless reminding them of their drug and alcohol problems. When my husband 
and I were homeless, we panhandled and "harassed" people for money. We 
needed money for food, transportation and lodging. (ie. a motel room for the 
night so we could sleep in comfort and safety.)
  Breaking into empty buildings to sleep should not be a crime. We all want 
to be able to sleep in safety, the only way to do that is to do that is to 
be inside. We all have nice homes and warm beds. The homeless have nothing. 
Homeless people will do whatever it takes to be safe and have shelter. If 
that means a little bit of inconvenience for some rich person, then so be 
it. I don't feel sorry for them.
  How can you "give the homeless a job" if they don't have the skills? Even 
if you give them training, how do you know there's going to be a job at the 
end? I don't know about the States, but here in Toronto, there are no jobs, 
except the "McJobs". Low-paying, unsafe, pressure-ridden, 
no-chance-for-advancement, can't-live-on jobs. People can't survive in an 
apartment on those kinds of jobs.
  Besides, what do a school principal and a restaurant owner know about 
helping the homeless? Have they ever been homeless themselves? Do they have 
any kind of Community Work experience? Have they ever worked in a Social 
Agency? I find everything about this plan very suspect. They asked the 
homeless what they wanted, and went ahead and did what they were going to do 
anyway. Why did they even bother? That is very patronizing. The homeless 
don't deserve to be patronized, they deserve to be treated with respect, the 
same respect the rest of us expect in our daily lives. Just because 
someone's homeless, that doesn't mean they're stupid. They can think for 
themselves and make their own decisions. Tailor the program to what the 
homeless want, not what rich Society wants.
  Sorry about the length, but some people's attitudes really get me riled. 
Society's attitudes are why the homeless problem has never been solved, the 
whole "we know what's best for you" attitude. The only people who know 
what's best for the homeless are the homeless themselves. Hey, here's a 
novel idea, let's give them housing! let's treat them like human beings! 
That approach has never been tried, it just might work.
  Anyway, that's enough for me. I'll get off my soapbox now. I'm sure you 
all got more important things to do than read my rantings. Fight and resist!

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