|Cover of 7/13/17 SNR|
An article about homeless folk in the July 15 Sacramento News & Review is a big, bad mess of a thing that doesn’t even seem to have any kind of point it wants to make. It is written by longtime SNR writer on matters homeless, Raheem F. Hosseini, and appears on page 11 of the 7/13/17 issue of SNR under the title “Point of Shame: Sacramento’s unsheltered homeless population explodes by 110 percent.”
The thing that is dealt with as the problem is that there are thousands more homeless people in the county than was anticipated from the Homeless Counts that were conducted in January 2013 and January 2015. The latest bi-annual count – in January 2017 – is, for no reason that is explained, accepted as accurate – or, at least, roughly as accurate as something as curious as a county Homeless Count can be when the “objects” of the count are human beings that frequently move around a lot, thus making counting them as easy and straightforward as determining how many stray cats there are in the county.
In what I think to be a foolish error, Hosseini treats the issue of the perceived-as-a-very-high number of homeless folk in the county in an alarmist manner. He writes, “Most alarmingly, the number of homeless people without access to any indoor shelter exploded 110 percent.”
Consider. If a survey of Mexican immigrants in Sacramento County determined that there had been a robust increase in people so defined, would it be defensible to report that “the count of Mexican immigrants ‘exploded’?” Unless the Sacramento News & Review has joined the Alt-Right, the incendiary use of the word “exploded“ was dunderheaded, as opposed to hate-based. A copy editor or whatever Editor in Chief last came through the revolving door should have caught and corrected the mistake – that is, assuming he’s not Steve Bannon.
The Sacramento News and Review goes through Editors at a rate commensurate with the rate that the band Spinal Tap goes through drummers. You’d think, what with the Bee in a spiraling decline, that SNR would try to “step up,” rather than fall on its face. Now is the time for SNR to expand what topics it writes about, thus to steal readers from the fast declining $1.50-an-issue-on-weekdays daily. Too, SNR could take some of the Bee's advertiser. I would like it if SNR suddenly had ads for new cars and pancake houses instead of just marijuana and masturbatory phone-call services.
I think that the poor performances of Ryan Loofbourrow (Sac Steps Forward Director) and Sac Mayor Steinberg is the targeted shame-worthy behavior that the article is intending to point toward. But while each leader exhibits shame to a degree, neither has any intention of falling on his sword. So, there will be no repercussions. Loofbourrow and Steinberg will each treat matters as just another glitch that happens and gets forgotten until the next ugly glitch pops into view before it gets religated to fade on the far side of forgetfulness.
The Squirrelly business
Another problem area of the article is weirdness in how some sentences were constructed.
In the piece's first paragraph, Hosseini writes "Several feet away, under an already warm sun, someone tried to get the applause going, banging thick palms together like rocks."
Huh? For starters, the sun is a star that is always hot. IT doesn't warm up during the day. As for the "banging thick palms" thing, I suspect that Hosseini is meaning to suggest that people were clapping but were not enthusiastic in their effort. Otherwise, I am stumped.
A follow-up to Hosseini's piece may be indicated. Hosseini gets into the weeds a wee bit to account for the survey-count problems of the last five years, but someone like Cosmo Garvin could nail what the problems are such to put matters in position for the best possible future for the Homeless Count and for homeless folk.
The last paragraph in the piece is treated as something solemn. L&F Advocacy Director Joan Burke tells people to "put themselves in the shoes of a homeless person. 'Some people will actually be in danger. Some will be cited for illegal camping. I believe none of them will have a [restful] night.'"
Really!? NONE of them will have a restful night. I think that what is revealed, here, is that Joan has never been a homeless person. A lot of people may not be highly comfortable in the spot where they choose to sleep, but the matter of being tired and needing sleep results in people getting sleep and, usually, waking up and finding that they are satisfactorily rested and ready for the morning.
The New Era
Noel Kammermann is the newly annointed Director of Loaves & Fishes. I am hopeful that, as an element of all things being new, a lot of the quite crazy cartoonish depictions of homelessness and homeless people will cease.
Do homeless people suffer. Sure. Yes. Homelessness is an unsatisfactory life, but is not the ultimate misery at all times -- which is how it can be depicted in Homeward Street Journal or by many homeless-charity administrators.