Skip to main content

The shelter-in-winter calamity

The Mayor's Winter Shelter Task Force announced on October 23 that they had $500,000 to spend on shelter beds and had succeeded in finding a magnificent 269 slots for the 4 1/2-month chilly period.

In the midst of our Grand Recession, with money tight and the need at its greatest ever for chilly-season safety from the elements, a committee had come through for us, finding means and ways to save homeless people from misery. So we thought.

It's nearly a month later, and its now known that the task force, instead of doing grade A+ work did grade F work. There never were 269 slots; only a paltry few. And that is all we have now as a major storm descends.

Mr. Mayor, please show some grit. Make things happen NOW such that bed space is found. That must include adding new people to the task force and subtracting a few. And a couple good people should be found to determine how things went so very very wrong; they should write a report and its findings should be disseminated. The same level of ineptitude on the winter shelter task force this year must not repeat next year. Frankly, it seems that dependence on homeless-help-industry executives to implement homeless-help government planning is the core mistake.

The lack of beds isn't the only problem. Of the chilly-season beds that are now being used, numbering perhaps sixty, all of them are given to people who have full use of them until the end of March. AND, "insiders" -- that is, homeless friends of the agents that provided them -- are the people who were given the beds, NOT those most in need and who would suffer the most from being left outside in sub-40-degree night temperatures.

Also, those given the beds are in overwhelming number single men, not women or families.

In the past, quite appropriately, there was some "churning" that occured.  A few people were always leaving a shelter [due to having capped out on the maximum of time that was provided in a stay; or left to visit family or sleep at a friend's house for a night, e.g] to be replaced by others needing a shelter.  Now, with space so very very tight, and no 'stay cap,' homeless people will NOT be visiting their familes or staying at a friend's house.  They will stay in place at any shelter they're at for the full span of time they have.  Thus, while in the past, misery was shared by the homeless community, NOW some people will be warm and dry all winter, while others, who would have been the most capable to stay warm on the streets, will be cosy for the full of winter.

Could the Winter Shelter Task Force have done a more incompetent job!?
See also today's Bee article "Sacramento area falls short on winter beds for homeless."


Being homeless has to be really hard indeed. I recently interviewed a New York City homeless who shared some of his thoughts on homelessness and on how society treats homeless people. Check it out here and let me know what you think!

A. Toral
Tom Armstrong said…
Thanks, Almu, for the link to your story [with audio!], "Thoughts on Homelessness" at the CUNY blogsite Interactive Journalism.

Popular posts from this blog

More Homeless Hate from Marcos Breton

There was a long spell a handful of years ago when Marcos Breton said something so fully ridiculous in one of his hateful screeds against homeless folk that it appeared to be very apparent he had been taken off the Homeless Beat by his superiors. Unhappily, after a few months, Breton was again writing disparaging columns about homeless folk

In today's Bee [3/5/17], Breton has written one of his longest columns. Online, it is titled "The price downtown Sacramento is paying for Mayor Steinberg’s homeless crusade
Read more here: It goes on for days. The message, essentially, is this: Homeless people poop; they're getting a great deal of what they want from the overmuch-helpful mayor; and business people proximate to Chavez Park are made miserable by the forever-disgusting homeless that are there in great number.

O.K. Let's get into all this a bit. Except in Breton's mind, homeless pe…

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 Self What 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…

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…