Skip to main content

Breton touts Supervisor Serna and Cottage Housing

Marcos Breton [sent to me as a 'shared photo' from Sacramento Connect]
Sac Bee columnist Marcos Breton hadn't written about homelessness for something like two years.  Today, after that long lag in offering up some words on Homeless World, he chirped words of praise for new county supervisor Phil Serna, who gathered funds to shelter the American River Parkway exiles who had been evicted from their tents in ARP this weekend.

In his column, "Phil Serna full of tough love for homeless campers,"  Cottage Housing gets a heap of praise.

Serna is quoted saying "It's a clean and sober environment, and there is testing to make sure of it."

No, that's not quite right:  There is testing which catches a lot of people not being clean and sober. But, sure, the testing also deters much use of alcohol and drugs.

Also, Serna is quoted saying this:  "Services are offered. People are assisted in clearing their warrants, in dealing with their disabilities, in getting their kids back."

Yes.  There are services, but they are much much reduced from what they've been and many of the requirements of Cottage Housing have been unproductive.  The harsh economy and the recognition that many programs were just run-arounds was causal for a big cutback.

Indeed, before he abruptly quit as president of Cottage Housing, Inc., Robert Tobin was on a tear cutting out the pointless programs and wanting to foreshorten people's stays in Cottage Housing.

For a spell, about a year ago, I would go to Side-by-Side meetings which were hosted by a Buddhist fellow I knew, Mark.  [Side-by-Side is 'its own thing,' independent of Loaves & Fishes and all else but with offices at L&F's Friendship Park] Often, people from Cottage Housing would come in with their cards that they needed to complete, which gave proof that they'd met a requirement to go to a certain number of meetings each week.  It was not uncommon for someone to come to a Side-by-Side meeting, often in the middle of it, stay for five minutes, ask for the card to be signed, and then leave.  Certainly, many people were conscientious, and would stay for the duration of any meeting they attended, but others were just "feeding the beast," being minimalist in doing what was required, which was for them a pointless run-around.

Homeless people, in good economic times, are put to the task of going to meetings that aren't meant for them and in no manner have any function at improving their lives.  It is the pure madness of a Communist country that happens in the middle of Sacramento.


Hooray for whatever programs there are that really help homeless people — but the truth is that there aren't that many of those.

I know it sounds all New Agey for me to get Wilberian on y'all, but I am going to do that.  There are stage of psychosocial development that many people have charted.  One of the more advanced stages -- called the Green Meme in Spiral Dynamics and in an early version of Ken Wilber's system -- is where almost all the executives in the homeless-services industry are. Green Meme is very cool -- except that, in Don Beck's words, when it turns mean "it absorbs rather than contributes."

Here a quote from Beck, which sounds plenty goofy when you don't know the color code, but I think it is understandable nonetheless, so here it is [just realize that the "noble savages" are what this "mean" version of the Green Meme really thinks of homeless people]:
…[what] this negative version of GREEN does is to destroy the capacity of ORANGE and BLUE social and economic systems to actually address the gaps that GREEN itself has identified. It destroys ORANGE economic structures. And it also destroys BLUE authoritarian systems, which are necessary to control RED, as we can see all too clearly in the example of Zimbabwe today. It therefore becomes counterproductive. It makes things worse. It relieves RED of the responsibility to learn discipline and purpose in BLUE-ORANGE, because it loves the indigenous people but tends to read into them greater complexity, as it sees them as "noble savages." And in destroying the authoritarian, purifying systems in BLUE and ORANGE, there's the flooding of the RED undisciplined, egocentric, impulsive behavior into the GREEN zone, both in one's self and in societies. And it is this unhealthy meshing of RED and GREEN, in which strong egocentric narcissism combines with pontifications about humanity and equality, that becomes the breeding ground for what Ken Wilber and I call the "Mean Green Meme."
Like I say, it sounds goofy, but basically what Beck says here is exactly what we see play out in Sacramento. The Mean Green Meme's efforts at absolute egalitarianism creates endless process and meetings that carry little if any meaning. Homeless people become trapped in a world of madness, with metrics mostly nonexistant. There is often nothing to show the foolhardiness of the endeavors.

So, Serna and Marcos trot out the idea of Cottage Housing and its array of programs as the solution to all the ills of homelessness -- but it's not and it's been around and it hasn't been.

I'm not saying that SafeGround makes any sense. It hasn't shown any real success at anything other than determination and money raising. But there is a fount of energy in all that and if it can be converted to more-meaningful activities to transform lives that would be terrific. I just don't see how that can be done.

Like anyone, homeless people need control over their own lives. And from that start, only then can things happen. BUT, SafeGround isn't much of an example of homeless people beginning to control and be responsible for their own lives. The Board of Directors of SafeGround is the usual crowd of interlocking-board-(and bored) people who are squishy-to-a-fault liberal functionaries that believe in screaming and complaining and pretty much nothing else [well, except for money raising and empire building]. And homeless people are all pretty much pawns to all this.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The devastating effects of schizophrenia in one man's life

A powerful story of the deteriorating life and death of once-respectable Sacramento citizen, Mike Lehmkuhl,  is told by  reporter Cynthia Hubert in Sunday’s [7/31/16] Bee.
Lehmkuhl is described as a very likable guy with a sometimes-goofy personality that went along with a formidable intelligence. He was a “standout wrestler” in high school and an “accomplished gymnast at Sacramento State” where he graduated and then got into the building trade before going on to run a contracting business and have a home proximate to Country Club Plaza.
Friends describe him as being “happy” and “sanguine” at that time in his life, when he was about age 50.
But, by 2011, when Lehmkuhl was 53, he was hearing voices in his head and his life began to fall apart. He tumbled into a homeless life, combatting demons in his head that spoke to him. The Hubert piece provides a comprehensive picture of a good man beset by a devastating condition: schizophrenia. Lehmkuhl had good friends and loyal family members…

Homelessness and Remembrance

This is a follow-up on the matter of remembering homeless people who have died and the Wall that Libby Fernandez wants to build in remembrance of the deceased. [See earlier blogpost "Tell Libby NOT to build her wall."]

This blogpost is prompted by a Philosophy Bites podcast released in the last couple days -- titled "C├ęcile Fabre on Remembrance." Fabre's take on why we honor or grieve for certain individuals or certain collections of individuals is not greatly helpful -- since his focus is mainly one of fallen war heroes and war casualties -- but it does open up the issue of why should there be a remembrance effort for deceased homeless people at all. Who is served by it? And has the effort been perverted by the avarice of charities in their insatiable drive for donations.

It is, for starters, a curious thing for "homeless people" to be a collective that is honored. I write that NOT because I don't want the best for homeless people. But, homelessn…

The first-person dimension of homeless Sacramentans suffering from Schizophrenia

"Disabilities and dysfunction process from having been shunned and denied access to needed opportunitites and networks of support."
~ the brothers Lysaker in Schizophrenia and the Fate of the SelfWhat is schizophrenia? How many are homeless Sacramentans?

Perhaps 15% of the Sacramento homeless population suffers from schizophrenia. The percentage is difficult to determine for many reasons that branch from both the fuzzy definition of the malady and that many people within the homeless community who have the illness (1) are in denial and are undiagnosed and (2) have the illness as a diagnosis only – the disability can be faked by people who are successful claimants of social security and other benefits.

What is schizophrenia? One webspace gives us this definition: The most chronic and disabling of the severe mental disorders. Typically develops in the late teens or early twenties. The overt symptoms are hallucinations (hearing voices, seeing visions), delusions (false beliefs ab…