Re: Vouchers

Unca Jones (best-smith@TRIAX.COM)
Thu, 26 Nov 1998 00:05:29 -0800


Seems I've heard the voucher idea surface here in Portland off and on
for ten years or more. The idyllic nature of this program can be sound:
Vouchers used for essential services such as food, shelter. However, if
conditions are tied to this program whereby they can only be redeemed
outside the downtown area then the program is circumspect as just
another attempt to "cleanse" - remove - the obvious failings of efforts
to adequately retrain and rehabilitate, or sweep under the carpet thus
removing from sight what business and community leaders feel is a blight
on future plans of attracting new corporate interests - more money in
the coffers of existing fatcats. Downtown renovations, from spiffy
security buildings to yuppie rowhouses have no conscience nor compassion
for the downtrodden. Programs like East Coast efforts to train and
involve homeless are practically nonexistent here, even as state taxes
in Oregon are among the highest in the nation. What began with the
closing of Dammache, turning literally hundreds of mentally ill patients
loose on city streets, to police procedures of shoot to kill (one woman
was killed because she threatened suicide. Where's the logic in THAT.)
all point to society in denial - Hey, I'm O.K., so everything must be
peachy. With current unemployment at 4.2% city and state leaders are so
busy patting themselves on the back they no longer have a hand to lend
the less fortunate. Forest jobs are gone, most tech industries are
bringing personel in from Japan, Korea, India - paying big bucks to do
so - and leaving American workers (or ex-workers) to fend for
themselves. It is no coincidence that Portland police have NEVER been
found culpable for using deadly force by internal affairs associations.
     Unsanitary conditions in downtown low income housing is atrocious,
the smell of urine and feces permeates air shafts littered with garbage.
     I digress (sorry). 
     Perhaps, the money spent for voucher programs could be better used
to establish communal homes, where food, training and substance
abuse/therapy could be combined in a home-like atmosphere, encouraging
people to interact and share within the group, building social skills
and reinforcement of basic human caring.
     Too bad that modern greed can't see beyond it's own pocket enough
to try something like this.