Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gimme Shelter, Redux

Now that we, the Sac'to Homeless, have that possiblity of no winter shelter thing hanging over us like a swinging sword of Damocles, other issues seem tamed and trivial in comparison. As Shakespeare could've said, "Uneasy lies the head that doesn't have a pillow." Yes, Bill, especially so on cold, rainy nights.

It is probably the case that the homeless-help agencies and possible funds providers are playing a game of chicken.

Eventually, either the county or the city or the stimulus fund or Loaves & Fishes or Bill Gates or William Buffett will pony up and allow the homeless to survive. Maybe. Each thinks in regard to the other: It's your problem!

Woe, the homeless: We have no political power! We donate so extremely little to campaign funds and nonprofit charities! And agencies that advocate for themselves – I mean "us" – are so slimy and morally compromised. The latest weird thing is that Sister Libby Fernandez 'tweet'ed the following to her twitter account, "Sacramento has 1200 homeless folks who are not in shelters-we need a Winter Overflow Shelter and Safe Ground!" while, at the same time, SHE is the very person who is preventing each from happening!!  Libby is on the mayor's Winter Shelter Task Force and her first lieutenant, Joan Burke, is on the mayor's Tent City Task Force, according to information I've received from the mayor's office, in reply to a freedom-of-information request.

While the city and county of Sacramento are both flat broke (and let us face it, they ARE NOT going to come up with the scratch to fund a night out at Colonel Sanders', much less the 200 Big Ones it might cost to get 150 people in bunk beds for four months), Loaves & Fishes has been stockpiling funds for the last five-and-a-half years and now has millions in cash and liquid assets! [See L&F's Form 990 for 2008 at the bottom of this article in Sacramento Press. The total of cash, savings and temporary investments was $2.3 million on Dec 31, 2008, and can only have increased after the Oprah Tent City thing last spring.] [From the Revenue/Expense Trend chart on L&F's page at Charity Navigator, you can see that Loaves & Fishes has been amassing a fund balance consistantly since Jan 1, 2004.  Also, down a little ways on that Charity Navigator page, you can see L&F's mission statement, the first line of which is "Founded in 1983, Loaves & Fishes feeds the hungry and shelters the homeless."]

And don't tell me that Poor Libby can't do a thing because city or county legislators need to legalize a homeless encampment.  If Loaves & Fishes puts itself on the line to pay the expenses and guarantee campers' safety, the project will be approved if it is ever going to be.

And don't tell me Libby's mountain of cash is tied up because of a warehouse Loaves & Fishes hopes to build.  If some of the organization's funds are restricted, L&F can write donors to the "warehouse fund," or whatever it is, and have some of the donors release the restriction to their donations. A measly 8% of L&F's Everest of Cash would be enough to pay for no-extras shelter space.

So ... when Sister Libby chirps  "Sacramento has 1200 homeless folks who are not in shelters-we need a Winter Overflow Shelter and Safe Ground!," to whom is she complaining, ... to herself!?  Who else can it be.  Have things gotten so weird and craven in the Loaves & Fishes Administration building that taken-a-vow-of-poverty [but certainly doesn't live in poverty] Sister-of-Mercy Libby is yelling at herself for not funding what only she may be able to pay for and make happen!!?

The delusions on North C Street just keep on comin'.

[This blogpost is a redo, with a significantly different ending, of a SacHo blogpost from last May called Gimme Shelter.]

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