Friday, October 9, 2009

The utopia that will never be


Artwork at Loaves & Fishes' website envisioning "Eden," a safe ground [ie, legal encampment for the homeless] utilizing sixty Tuff Sheds at a 3½ acre location behind Union Gospel Mission and VOA's Bannon St. shelter in the River District.
The idea of a legal encampment for the homeless has both gained traction [the mayor proposed Stepping Stone; the Safe Ground Campaign has grown more militant], and become more grandiose [from $2/night rented domes with just toilets and garbage to wooden structures with utilities, showers, onsite cooking and laundry, and a paid staff].

But as the idea of a homeless village has expanded it has taken on the weighty encumberment of a far-left political movement (The Safe Ground Movement), that is indistinguishable from communism. [If it quacks like Trotski and talks like Marx, isn't it communist?]

Not that it has ever been likely, but with the leftist, myopic leaders of safe ground/Safe Ground/SafeGround getting ever-more ambitious and feeling the oats of imagined success, the whole project is highly likely to soon crumble.  The public, beyond the idealistic left, and the city council, outside our good-hearted mayor, have not "bought in" and have not been courted.

Besides this, the real leaders of Safe Ground [how ever you capitalize or spell it, or in whichever of its aspects, from legal encampment to nationwide revolution], executives of core Sacramento homeless-help-industy nonprofits and their lawyer, don't want to accomplish anything, they want to gripe.  Only with the hope of a legal encampment being dashed in a vote of the city council can they continue to whipsaw their donor bases and mine the ore of supposed unrealized entitlements for the undercaste.

Don't get me wrong:  We in the undercaste deserve a better deal.  But it has to begin with an overhaul of the inefficient, chaotic, compassion-lacking homeless-help nonprofits that are meant to provide needed services.

Loaves & Fishes, first, needs a REAL Board of independent Directors who are there to widen the road to meaningful lives for the population L&F serves AND it needs to cease stockpiling cash, which in now has in the amount of approx. $2.5 million.  Volunteers of America needs to cut back on the number of press and publicity people it has, needs to pay its executive director less [He made over $300,000/yr according to the latest Form 990 report at Charity Navigator.], and should learn and teach organizational skills to its staff.  Ben & Jerry's needs to stop funding SHOC [Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee (of one)].  And a couple rich attorneys on P Street need to realize that if the country were ever to become what they want it to be, they would be two of the first to be disappeared [or, "vanished" in Orwellian terms].  [As Ethel Long-Scott said at the Homeless Power Forum at Loaves & Fishes on 10/6/09, "As a freed slave, I have no worries about what happens to the rich man."]

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