Thursday, November 5, 2009

Does Sacramento have the stride to step that far forward?

With a goal of providing 2400 units of permanent housing for the area homeless, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson hopes to greatly impact and reduce homelessness over the next three year period, according to a report by KCRA, channel 3.

The mayor's initiative, titled Sacramento Steps Forward, will team him with dozens of business leaders.

The KCRA report also tells us "The mayor urged the community to be 'part of the solution,' and educate themselves about who Sacramento's homeless are."

Also, see Sac Bee report by Cynthia Hubert: "Sacramento homeless initiative eyes permanent, not emergency, shelter"

SacHo editorial:

From the first, this blog has been eager for the Sacramento metropolis to be better educated about the area homeless population. Unhappily, the region's news organizations preach the myths and are uninterested in reporting the reality.

It is the certain knowledge of this writer that homeless people here are in overwhelming majority good-hearted, thoughtful people endeavoring earnestly to pull their lives together — to get out of The Big Muddy¹, to be happier and productive. The chasm between what homeless people are truly like and what the general public thinks about the homeless could not be wider.

It is also apparent to the point of being a certain truth that Mayor Johnson is compassionate, fervent to understand his city, and eager to make things happen. Hooray all that.

I worry, though, about efforts that are too grandiose to succeed, seek too much to the point of being unjust, and get ahead of the learning curve of city and county elected officials and the general public.

Homeless people should not get a better deal from the government than people who put in forty hours of hard work at minimum wage and are trying to raise a couple of kids. I think the central economics lesson of the 20th Century and the current decade is that "you have to get the incentives right": People who play by the rules and keep their noses to the grindstone must be respected. It cannot be the case that people who have fallen out of their lives, for whatever reason, are given a Free Pass to a better, low-struggle life while a non-complaining citizen who is paying his own way, in full, is left to continue to wrestle, unaided, with life's alligators.

A "No Free Pass" concept is contrary to the SHOCking far-far-left politics of prime homeless services organizations and their attorneys in Sacramento. The far-far-left-of-Trotsky crowd has succeeded rather well with the mayor and seems to be the whole of the homeless-involved population that has his ear.

Within Homeless World Sacramento there are a great many people who do not complain, are little seen, but are scrappy multitaskers who try to make things happen in their lives, but with modest (albeit, often not enough) success. Too, there are people dealing with significant impediments to their having a productive life: Physical disabilities, cognitive impairment, significant mental-health maladies (like schizophrenia), and debilitating addictions (like alcoholism) are common.

Weirdly, the scrappy, the disabled, the impaired, the malady sufferers and the addicts get overlooked when help is available because they are not favored by the homeless-help industry which is focused — like a dog on a T-bone steak — on their whine, demand-our-rights, freedom-be-damned, put-an-end-to-capitalism agenda. Thus, those getting the perks in Homeless World are the feckless so-called "homeless leaders" whose prime distinction is that they are not leaders at all, but willing whistlers of the homeless-help industry tune — which is The Internationale. [I'm joking about The Internationale, but the rest, as unlikely as it may sound, is true, less a meager 10% added satiric content.]

The best thing that could happen in Homeless World Sacramento would be if there were, first, a revolution overturning things in the homeless-help industry that is esconsed here, creating a new improved-beyond-recognition homeless-help industry which was truly industrious in an effort at helping the homeless. What it is that the homeless need are safe, dry places to keep their things, including clothes on hangers and books and papers. We need places to sleep that don't require in "payment" that vast swatches of our time be gobbled up attending meaningless meetings or services given by people who are unprepared or classes that don't teach anything.

What Homeless World doesn't need is its army of volunteers. The default circumstance should be that all things get done "in house," so to speak, by the homeless themselves who have a myriad of unutilized skills. How absurdly pathetic it is that homeless-services nonprofits bring in volunteers to "help" the homeless, by denying the homeless the work that the volunteers provide.


Oop. Sorry, I forgot. This is an editorial about the mayor giving homeless people 2400 housing units. Sure, do it, Mr. Mayor. Give it a whirl. See if it can happen. [snort, snicker] We don't mind breathing mold. We're used to it. Of course, it's not as nice as a motel room. Is there room service with motel rooms that you provide? Mightn't it be cheaper just to buy us a couple dozen Motel 6's with Loaves & Fishes providing volunteers to give us room service?
¹ The Big Muddy, as Homeless folk know or can guess, is both Friendship Park after it's rained (~20 days/year) or been heavily hosed (whenever else its open). The Big Muddy is also the idea of being stuck in a terrible place (in our case, homelessness), the name coming from the Pete Seeger song "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy."

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