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... with Loaves & Fishes looking over your shoulder?

Is Loaves & Fishes ALWAYS adverse to doing something in a straightforward way? I do wonder.

Not content to take up its proper role in the 2010 Census as a non-invasive TNSOL [Targetted Non-Sheltered Outdoor Location], Loaves & Fishes has determined that it will add coercion to the mix, which is sure to make an expected undercount of Sacramento's homeless population that much greater.

Rather that benignly, non-invasively offering a location where homeless people could fulfill their obligation to report data for the 2010 Census to Census Bureau workers, Loaves & Fishes has decided to act as Big Mommy and stick in their big snorting nose. L&F's inveigling action is sure to scare off many homeless people who will understandably feel that their privacy is being invaded.

A flier, worded as follows, has been distributed to homeless denizens of L&F's Friendship Park the last couple days:

On Tuesday, March 30th 2010 Loaves & Fishes will be hosting the 2010 U.S. census, the census is vital to our area receiving funding for many homeless programs. At this time we are asking all who come to Loaves and fishes to participate. Because you are a citizen and you count!

On this date Friendship Park will be closed to those who do not participate... Census staff will be set up in the cul-de-sac to assist you in completing the census. Once you've completed the census you will be given an admission ticket to Friendship Park and to access services at Loaves & Fishes. I.e.; lunch, showers telephone etc.

We apologize for any inconveniences, this may cause.
Reporting of Census data is solely the responsiblity of those reporting ― adult citizens and others living in the United States. The circumstance at Loaves & Fishes is surely a unique one where use of coersion is employed: "Fill out the datasheet, or you won't eat or bathe, you homeless dog!" Census reporting at gunpoint by an organization that has no business meddling!

It should be known that the official Census Date is April 1, and NOT March 30.

While the Census Bureau happily collects data given before the official date [How else could they hope to gather data from over 300 million Americans?], the obligation to report is by May 1 relating to one's circumstance on April 1 — but the sooner the better.

Homeless citizens, like all other Americans, have no legal obligation to report early. Nor should many of us report before the April 1 Census date, since, in many cases, homeless people's living circumstances can change day-by-day.

The logo of the 2010 Census appears in the upper-right of this blogpost.  Must I point out that it reads "It's in Our Hands," and NOT "It's in Our Hands with Loaves & Fishes twisting your arm and reading over your shoulder"?


DesElms said…
I perform pro bono agency and advocacy for the homeless and others similarly in need.


I am largely coordinating the TNSOL count in VALLEJO, California...



...and we are just hours, now, as I write this, away from going out for the all-night TNSOL count.

I am a big supporter of Loaves & Fishes, just generally; however, I confess to being troubled by any tactics even remotely resembling what I've read in this blog posting.

It's already bad that some of those who provide services to the homeless (specifically some of the faith-based groups) force said homeless to do things like pray or study the bible or attend worship services in order to avail themselves of services. When those helping agencies do things like what is described in this blog posting, that, too, is troubling.

The truth is, I have trouble believing that it's exactly as the blog posting describes. However, if it is, in fact, that way, then I'm sorry to hear that.

Tonight, we're going out and finding the homeless wherever they are. I've recently completed, and am now updating, a nearly 50-page report of TNSOLs in Vallejo...

...and we're by-golly going to try to hit every one of them tonight. Any homeless who refuse to participate will simply be reminded of the importance of it, and then if they insist, their decision will be honored.

I do not anticipate much resistence, though, because we all fanned-out across the city in advance and warned the homeless at the TNSOLs that the census workers were coming on the night of the 30th (morning of the 31st); and we explained to them the importance of it, and how they had nothing to fear from it, and how the census workers were not even remotely connected with law enforcement, etc. Nearly every homeless person agreed, by the time we finished explaining it, that it would be cool to be counted.

That's how we're doing it in Vallejo tonight. And I'm pretty proud of how we've put it all together.

Interestingly, we contemplated a "census barbeque" or something like that to draw the homeless in to eat for free, maybe get some information and services, and then fill-out a census form...

...but never in a million years would we make the eating part or the services part contingent upon filling-out the form.

I hope the Loaves & Fishes is, in fact, doing it differently than this blog posting describes; and more, perhaps, in the spirit of how we're doing it here in Vallejo.

Gregg L. DesElms
gregg at greggdeselms dot com
Tom Armstrong said…
Thanks for your comment, Gregg.

Indeed, Loaves & Fishes was ultimately far less invasive in their approach to things than their fliers proclaimed they would be.

While L&F mgmt is famously unresponsive toward doing things other than in whatever authoritative rights-disregarding fashion they choose to, it is likely that the Bureau and media notice and, frankly, THIS BLOG got them to scale back.

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