The San Francisco Chronicle Goes Pulitzer-Fishing

"First in a series" can be the scariest words in the English language, as a seasoned (and embittered) journalist once told me. And he was right. Especially when the email address that corresponds with the series is "shameofthecity@sfchronicle.com."

But lo and behold, the San Francisco Chronicle's three-part series on homelessness is actually quite informative and balanced. And it raises an interesting question for libertarians: When legit use of existing government programs makes homelessness a hugely expensive problem for local goverments, is an aggressive campaign to get them onto various welfare rolls and into low cost, subsidized housing a good idea if it's cheaper overall? And what if the homeless people costing the state tons of money say they don't want help? How hard should the government try to convince them that they do, especially if sucessfully doing so will reduce the overall financial burden on taxpayers?

The first story asks the utterly fair question: How much does homelessness cost? It tells the story--and does the accounting--on the "redemption" of one tough case, Georgia Mitchell:

It is expensive redemption -- Mitchell's home and medical care cost taxpayers about $21,000 a year. But her case shows how that can be far cheaper than allowing homeless people to deteriorate on the street, becoming public nuisances and financial burdens.

In her last two years on the street, the public spent nearly $100,000 annually on Georgia Mitchell's emergency care and support.

The article also deals with the question of what to do with people who just don't want help:

The rejection of help is a key reason there are so many homeless people on the nation's streets. But state and federal laws allow addicted or mentally ill homeless people to refuse the very services that could assist them. Ever since the 1960s patients' rights movement, they have had the same prerogative as housed citizens to refuse any service unless they pose a danger to themselves or others -- which is hard to prove.

The only way [Officer] Peachy could force Mitchell into drug rehabilitation was to arrest her and hope she was sentenced to rehab -- which courts usually do. But she could leave rehab any time after starting it.

The mayor's program is tough, and interesting:

Newsom has expanded the leasing of residential hotel rooms in large part with $14 million a year in savings from his controversial Care Not Cash program. Begun in May 2004, Care Not Cash slashed welfare checks to the homeless to $59 a month, from $410 a month....

Another administration initiative has been Homeward Bound, which since February 2005 has sent 1,445 people back to where they came from at a cost of $204,889 in bus tickets and money for food. In a speech on Thursday, Newsom said the number of those who climbed aboard the buses had grown to 1,656.

The third story concedes that, while there's some antecdotal evidence that things are looking up, the city really has no idea where the $108 million spent on homeless projects is going because there is little accountability or central data gathering. 

Basically, you've got the highlights now--consider this a sort of "we read Pulitzer candidates so you don't have to" service. But if you insist on reading for yourself, the three parts are here, here, and here.

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  • Ethan||

    This is all with the assumption that welfare and emergency medical care are a required part of our governments.

  • ||

    Round them up and put them in camps, I say.

  • ||

    "First in a series" can be the scariest words in the English language, as a seasoned (and embittered) journalist once told me.

    I always thought that "bipartisan agreement" were the scariest words in the english language.

  • ||

    Well, I guess it would be cheaper to just wait until they're corpses and shovel them off to the morgue. Oh wait, we have to pay the coroner too?

  • ||

    Put 'em to work in those camps, Timmy.

  • Franklin \"Ebenezer\" Harris||

    Are there no work houses?

  • Jeff P.||

    Has H&R done anything about the alleged Martial Law bill that sizzled through the punditnet this past weekend?

    Just Askin'

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    Please stop with the Orange.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Before Laissez Faire books left the fair City by the Bay Mrs TWC emerged from said book store to find a homeless guy taking a dump in front her car. Always a nice touch.

    Not sure if SF still does it but if they stopped paying a monthly stipend to the homeless the city would attract less of them.

  • ||

    Might I suggest, as companion reading, the three part series in the Honalulu .....advertiser? the main Islands paper, on the same subject. 3 weeks back, or thererabouts. Evidently, the North coast of Oahu is a 16 mile long homeless encampment. Dopers? Crazies? Winos? No, by & very large.
    Its people WHO HAVE BEEN PRICED OUT OF HOUSING! Think about it- job or no, they cant make the rent. "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses??" I know, Iknow....they have no Gumption, by god. However, if you actually fuckin THINK, you might ask: Why? Because people with lots of $ are buying everything up, driving prices hellward. You know- the "free market".
    Certain folks here will be glad w/ the police response: tickets for illegal camping. If we just get rid of the minimum wage, by Jeezus, theyd all have jobs and, uh.....not afford the rent.
    But its an interesting take on what can drive homelessness besides being of the wrong race, a crackhead, or the usual crap you come across....very different story than LA.

  • ||

    I knew a guy who moved to Hawaii with the intention of working for a few months while living on the beach. To him, that was a plan.

  • ||

    TWC: That's what the story is all about. Mayor McHandsome cut the checks from $400 a month to $59 a month. Instead, they're using the money on food, shelter, and bus tickets back to where they came from.

  • ||

    It is well known that the scariest words in the English language are "We need to talk."

  • ||

    "The most terifying words in the English language are, I'm from the government, and I'm here to help".
    Ronald Reagan

    You so-called libertarians who want to put homeless people in work camps must be related to the pro-torture libertarians who are so plentiful around here. What do you think freedom is, paying bills, kissing the boss's ass, trying to keep up with the Joneses? These homeless people have a harder life than you think, but they have chosen to forgo some of the comforts you enjoy so that they can enjoy their own kind of freedom. If it makes you uncomfortable to see dirty crazy people on the streets, tough shit, deal with it. You don't get to lock them away because they're annoying, you only get to deprive people of their freedom when they break the law. Their being homeless doesn't violate your rights, so you don't get to put them in concentration camps.
    Don't put them on welfare, give them a hand out if you so choose. Most of these homeless people don't want the governments help because they find normal life in the modern world too complicated and demanding, that's why they dropped out. Leave them be.

  • ||

    "You so-called libertarians who want to put homeless people in work camps must be related to the pro-torture libertarians who are so plentiful around here."

    Unlike the latter, I think the former were joking.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Mutt, read that story a couple of weeks ago. I'd rather be homeless in Hawaii than in SF.

    High, met a couple on the beach on the Big Island who lived on the beach two months out of the year. The rest of the time they had jobs in Alaska. Strange but true. Very cheap compared to the cost of a hotel.

    LurkerSF, thanks for the update. Guess I should read the story before mouthing off.

    The homeless problem is vexing. I know the Mission in LA does a good job but they won't let you sleep there if you're drinking. Many will choose the bottle over the bed. It doesn't help that many cities have urban-renewaled all the flophouses out of existence. When I was a kid Anahiem had dozens of old dumpy hotels where you could get a room dirt cheap. The city bulldozed them all and now they have a homeless problem.

  • Ken Layne||

    Thanks for linking/summarizing this thing, because I sure as hell would've never clicked on a Three Part Series.

    I left SF for the last time in 1999. Despite the city being in much better economic shape, the homeless situation seemed twice as horrible as it was in 1993 when I first moved there. Some people blamed it on yuppies moving to the Mission and pushing up rents, but the kind of people that made the streets untenable weren't the kind who had recently (if ever) taken care of themselves.

    Cutting those goddamned payments, paying for actual rehab & housing, and sending as many people back home as possible ... that's actually sane, but all three had been considered "politically impossible" in the 1990s. Good for Newsom and good for the poor souls who wind up on the streets of that town.

  • ||

    Mutt:

    There are only a certain number of ways to deal with the scarcity of land on Oahu. You allocate by market or you allocate by fiat. You take the consequences either way.

    Interestingly enough, I just saw that stretch of Oahu on my vacation this year. An obvious suggestion for improvement might be to allow more development on the island. I'm just sayin'.

  • ||

    Buckshot,

    I cannot speak for Timmy, but I'll bet that Franklin "Ebenezer" Harris was joking. I know that I was. I think you need to get your irony-meter tuned.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Buck, in a libertatian world the streets wouldn't be public and the homeless would be trespassing. Whole different angle, that one.

    I'm not sure how you judge but at some point there is a line dividing the ability to make your own decisions and not. We seem to be able to figure out where it is when Aunt Mabel is losing it and I think we could probably figure it out for the homeless, who are now treated entirely alike whether they are schizo, wino, derelict, sane, insane, violent, passive, or victims.

    Many of those people have no more ability to care for themselves than my demented and senile grandmother. We didn't dump her on the street and say you're free, have fun. She was institutionalized instead where she spent her declining years re-visiting the 1920's where her husband was young and alive and they could go dancing continually.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Jason, good point. There is also a native back-to-our-roots colony living on public land on Oahu where locals could live provided they are willing to work. No haoulies allowed though.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    No discussion of the homeless is complete without this.

  • ||

    Homelessness in urban america is largely a function of mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse. That set of folks who is more or less by definition not going to respond to standard incentives. I can't see any way around a role for the state here.

    I think a minimalist shelter and food availability form of redistribution is not a bad solution, where the shelter and food are chosen to minimize environmental harms that cost the public a ton of cash. You get the option for a relatively safe place to be, you can leave when you want, and you can eat gruel. Other than that, let 'em be. Direct payments are not going to be productive.

  • ||

    I have to say, too, that I've seen institutionalization of the mentally ill, and, well, Szaz isn't entirely wrong. Be very careful when you take someone off the street against their will. The implications to the humanity of that person are horrific.

  • ||

    and didn't you people learn anything from "Mr. Wendell?"

    He has a freedom you and I think is dumb, you know.

  • ||

    Highnumber:

    Yes, I need to get my ironymeter tuned. I got more defensive that I needed to.

    Wine Commonsewer:

    You also make some good points. I don't advocate dumping helpless people on the street, I advocate people looking out for each other without official government intervention. Some of these people need help, but I'm against forcing anyone to take help they don't want. I got really pissed off at the "Put 'em in camps" remark, some people really do feel that way and I hope that Timmy was joking.

  • Reg||

    The answer to the homeless is to outlaw sleeping on public benches or in parks. If they don't want to find other accommodations, the public will provide it in the form of prison.

    Absurdly and outragously, such legislation has been held to be unconstitutional.

  • Paul||

    Its people WHO HAVE BEEN PRICED OUT OF HOUSING!

    No, MUTT, it's far, far, FFFAR more complex than that. I'm pretty much priced out of housing in the City of Seattle, so I'm on the edge of homelessness, right?

    Wrong. When someone becomes homeless, there are a ton of other factors-- many of which are very uncomfortable to talk about-- which contribute to the condition that is known as 'homelessness'. My wife is an MSW working with homeless people. When you see it day after day after day, you realize just how difficult the problem is, and regardless of how comprehensive the services are, how little an impact they make.

  • ||

    " There are only a certain number of ways to deal with the scarcity of land on Oahu. You allocate by market or you allocate by fiat. You take the consequences either way. "
    Only if your diety is cash. if your 'libertarian" ideal is: he who has the gold, rules"- well, thats how you pose it. If community & history have no value, well then, gold is the determinate. Depends on your perspective....unless you believe "god" backs gold, or whatever. If not, then the determinate becomes negotiable. Yes? No?
    I happen to think history & community has value. You cant wiegh it on a scale, that dosnt mean it dosnt exist. To me, those who know the "cost of everything & the value of nothing" rule the roost. Im of the sort that thinks this is a pretty sorry assed situation. But thats just me, clearly.
    What to do? I dunno. I just see the day to day gettin run into the ground by the "price of everything" people, who profit, handsomly.
    Cash, gold profit -the end all & be all? well, then, everything is just great.
    So now we come to three different sectors of LA (& most everywhere else) homeless. First off- the bulldozing of single occupancy hotels in the 70's on, as well noted above, meant a lots of marginal people were turned out so a few marginal people (to me) could profit. They made a buck,and in cities all across the country folks were on the street. Yay, makin a buck. Yay, "market". Now, we demonize those marginal people who cant cough up a grand a month for a one room. Then theres the actual crazies, turned out in wholesale lots during that swine Carters riegn.
    Now you coulds say the junkies and the alkies have a choice. The crazies dont. We let the crazies forage in the street. You puff YOUR chest out, Ill pass.
    The druggies: the problem aint the drugs, its the cost. Legalize it, & use 1% of the savings for places to get clean. Let them OD. Swap DeSoto hubcaps full of crack for ligations & vasectomies. Offer up beds to detox. Having grown up around junkies, Ill tell ya- most want out, after a while. The alkies? well, Im sure we can figure out something- not "reform" them mind, but give them a roof, a place to dry out- with another 1% of the drug war savings. I know: "Give". the horror.
    But I get the impression more than a few here like to "punish" such, so I dont figger on much support.
    Winecommonsewer: christ, that stuff gives me heartburn.....whats yr secret??

  • ||

    AND....you lucky bastids.......
    Jason Lignon makes a very good point: the ghastly condition in which many institutionalized people were held BEFORE Carter (and the USSC) cut them loose.
    I dont wish to be taken as someone who supports that sort of thing.
    Something better than a choice between utter neglect & Bedlam snakepits is needed.
    It aint cheap. But its a lot, lot cheaper than, say, Rummy.
    The Honolulu Advertiser actually DID come out with the take the bulk of Oahu homelessness was skyrocketing rents. But remember- its an island. Seattle isnt.
    Rents havent skyrocketed in Seattle??? If you cant pay your rent you are: A) Forgiven, B)get a NEW Apartment, C)end up outside.

  • Mike Laursen||

    in a libertatian world the streets wouldn't be public and the homeless would be trespassing

    In your libertarian world. In my libertarian world, there would still be such a thing as public streets. Can we libertarians please grow out of the conceit that there is one true, perfect libertarian vision that can be deduced from a few axioms without leaving one's armchair. We all live in the far-from-ideal real world and need to come up with ideas that work here.

  • ||

    Reg:

    "The answer to the homeless is to outlaw sleeping on public benches and in the park."
    Homeless people are real people, people have to sleep. How long will you keep them in prison, days, years? Aren't you superior, depriving people of their FREEDOM because you don't want them sleeping on a bench.

    "Absurdly and outrageously, such legislation has been held to be unconstitutional".
    You are outraged too easily. I think putting people in prison for sleeping outdoors is absurd and outrageous.

  • ||

    I check out your link, Wine Commonsewer. What, no Boones Farm Apple Wine?

  • ||

    "We wear the chains we forged in life" sez spectrous Marley.

  • ||

    "Swap DeSoto hubcaps full of crack for ligations & vasectomies."

    Yeah, I don't think the eugenics program will be too popular.

  • ||

    "Homelessness in urban america is largely a function of mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse."

    Right. I think, as hinted at above, San Francisco's problems may have something to do with the city's attractiveness for the homeless population. Causing the city to receive more than their 'share' of the problem. Some of that is environmental of course due to the mild weather.

    At any rate, I guess there's an issue whether the kind of treatment that can help some homeless would be undertaken by the private sector. Certainly you think it could be funded by local businesses who'd want a bit less intimidating street environment.

    I think there isn't necessarily a 'problem' here to be solved. It's a function of community living. There's going to be mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness, etc. I think there's a lot of work to be done in helping the mentally ill and that work should help members of the homeless population interested in benefitting from it.

  • Paul||

    The Honolulu Advertiser actually DID come out with the take the bulk of Oahu homelessness was skyrocketing rents. But remember- its an island. Seattle isnt.

    Nor is anyplace else in the country. Soooo you're saying that Homelessness in Hawaii and only Hawaii is based on lack of affordable housing, but everywhere else...blank out.

    Rents havent skyrocketed in Seattle??? If you cant pay your rent you are: A) Forgiven, B)get a NEW Apartment, C)end up outside.

    Rents have skyrocketed in Seattle and have been doing so for well over a decade. In your original message you imply a simple dichotomy of expensive housing: pay rent/become homeless.

    What most people do, MUTT is they choose B, or several other options not listed, which may apply to their individual circumstance.

    Some people might d) get help from wealthier family members. e) Be forced to seek better employment. f) Seek additional employment, part time etc. including but not limited to overtime at current employment to cover gaps of affordability. g) Make reductions in existing expenses.

    What I've always found interested is that 'advocates' for the homeless are often times the most ignorant as to the causes and circumstances contributing to homelessness, which often contribute to further homelessness at worst, and at least do nothing to alleviate the problem.

    The complexities of homelessness require a multifaceted approach- often times tailoring that approach to each individual.

    Factors that often add to the difficulty when trying to get help to the homeless. Note, some or all of these exist simultaneously in each individual:

    Drug addiction/polysubstance abuse
    Mental illness.
    Antisocial behavior.
    Poor childhood experiences leading to:
    Horrendous life choices including:
    Poor choice in partners leading to abuse
    Multiple (and continued) pregnancies with no ability to care for additional family members.

    Reduced cognitive ability- caused by:
    Drug addiction/polysubstance abuse
    Mental illness
    Injury

    Then there are the myriad unexplainable issues where individuals have... and I know this is hard to get your mind around... choose to live on the streets. It's a lifestyle that they have outright chosen.

    Writing it off as an 'affordable housing' problem is exactly the attitude that simply puts blinders on and merely expands municipal budgets without actually addressing the problems.

  • ||

    Not popular with whom? By "eugenics" Im thinkin you impute a racial component. If it is, it a white racial component, since white crackheads out number black crackheads by a huge margin.
    But it can be smack in the hubcap, or powder coke, or black beauties. You want to snuff out your humanity w/ the dope (says the alkie) its your bidnid. Personally, I think w/ a bit of effort and a tiny fraction of the dosh pissed away on armaments this society could offer opportuniities undreamt of in the stratas where being a dope addict looks like a step up. - What I DO care about is drug addicts bringin kids into the world. Screw that.
    No need for that, at friggin all.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    What, no Boones Farm Apple Wine?

    Buck, thanks for stopping by. No Boone's Apple but there is some Strawberry Hill way down on the right hand side.

    I'm okay with public streets as far as that goes. If you can scale the feds back to 1880 levels I'll give you public streets.

    Just making the point that if the world was purist libertarian the homeless problem would be a different one and possibly more easily managed.

  • ||

    Then there are the myriad unexplainable issues where individuals have... and I know this is hard to get your mind around... choose to live on the streets. It's a lifestyle that they have outright chosen.

    You've expressed something that has a lot of truth here, Paul.

    Of course there are many exceptions, yadda yadda yadda. But I look at something like, say, the street kids on the Ave, and can't help but believe that if they really wanted to get off the streets, many have options available to them. They make the comparisons of what concessions they'd have to make in their lifestyles to do so and decide it's not what they want. It's an interpretation of personal freedom. Very appealing to some. The decision to opt out of 'normal' society.

    And it's not just the city streets. There's a lot of people living out in the woods.

  • ||

    by what nitwit pigeonholing do you think I: "Then there are the myriad unexplainable issues where individuals have... and I know this is hard to get your mind around... choose to live on the streets. It's a lifestyle that they have outright chosen.

    No shit. I was respondng to various comments above mine, all which neglected housing costs as a factor.
    You disreguard housing costs as a factor? Might I suggest you actually read the Honolulu piece, and contemplate what te destruction of multliples of 10's of thousands of SRO hotel rooms meant? (Id add 12-15 million illegals, but
    Im sure we can argue that elsewhere)
    Hit up rich relatives? OK. Some folks can do that. Find cheaper rent? Really? Maybe, here & there........and that works for what small percentage of the total? 10%? 15%? and the rest? Ah, yes: prisons & workhouses.
    The rest is the standard social worker victim framework. Upbringing, "poor choices", etc.
    Housing costs dont figure in? Anywhere??
    Ya really ought to have the benefit of my old bud Sisco's input here- he RAN a homelesshelter ten years back in VT.
    Its kinda stupid to pigeonhole people based on a couple paras, sport.If I were a like mind I would pigeonhole you as a gvt employee who depends on human misery for a job, but that would be stupid.

  • ||

    Eugenics doesn't require a racial component. Any "undesirable" trait that is sought to be eliminated by a society/government through means such as sterilization.

    Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was referring to a "feeble-minded" woman with his "three generations of imbeciles is enough" comment.

  • ||

    Again:

    Right you are that SF attract more than their share of homeless people because of all the handouts they offer. I'm against official handouts, I'm all for private solutions, churches and indiviuals who care, and they are out there. As several people here have pointed out, it's more complicated than locking them up or putting them on welfare, those are not valid solutions.

  • ||

    There have always been "marginal" people who choose not to live according to the standards of their contemporaries; perhaps crazy, perhaps iconoclastic. A large number of those people supported themselves; not by begging, but by doing odd jobs. Washing dishes for an afternoon, in return for a good meal and a little cash. Digging ditches, shoveling shit, threshing wheat, splitting firewood, clearing fencerows; they would do the little jobs that ordinarily fall through the cracks. A guy with mechanical skills could work on a "part time' basis in a garage, cleaning parts or carting junk away to the scrap yard.

    There are damn few of those jobs around, due to government regulation of the labor market. Is the owner of a business which has to report to the California Labor Board, or whatever they call themselves, going to risk a big fine to help out some grimy hobo? A guy who would rather be doing something like work becomes ashamed and resentful when he is reduced to begging (or worse, being made a ward of the state); don't bother to act surprised if he's not polite. Or clean.

    And the reference to the elimination of SRO hotels is spot on.

  • ||

    As to affordable housing, if you were to loosen up on some of the housing regulations, you could rent out 40 sq. ft rooms with a communal kitchen and bathroom. A 400 sq. ft. apartment in Manhattan could cost $2000 a month. You could rent out about 10 little rooms for $250, make more, and anybody who worked half time at minimum wage would be able to afford it.

    Uh, I think Reason did an article on it. Or maybe it was in that book, the Death of Common Sense.

  • Mike Laursen||

    I'm okay with public streets as far as that goes. If you can scale the feds back to 1880 levels I'll give you public streets.

    Deal! Sorry for jumping down yer throat.

  • ||

    Mutt:

    Community has value. Okay, what does that mean? If I value community, what does that say about how I allocate scarce resources? If you tire of the world where the most gold gets the resource, you are kind of on the hook for coming up with something else as a mechanism for allocation. Democracy? Crazy people are a minority. Need? Not really helpful. We have to know who needs what more. You are perhaps suggesting that if JW Marriott packed up, along with those fat cats who turned land in Oahu to profitable use, the average Hawaiian would be better off?

    Meh, this is an old argument. All I'm saying is that you have no way of getting to community. What you really are suggesting is less disparity regardless of what happens in absolute terms to the average guy.

  • thoreau||

    I want to know more about the $100k/year that was spent when somebody was on the street, and the $21k/year that is spent now that the person is in a program. The first number sounds like a bit of creative accounting, but I admit that I haven't RTFA. The second number is more plausible, although I wonder if some costs were neglected there with more creative accounting.

    Also, having volunteered in a private shelter, I can tell you that there are a few different kinds of homeless people:

    1) The sad, genuinely screwed-up cases who have mental health and/or substance abuse problems. What they need is beyond the capabilities of the shelter where I volunteered. How best to deliver it? That's a hard question.

    2) Some people who are genuinely down on their luck, and willing to work hard to get their lives back on track. They are truly a pleasure to work with.

    3) People who are some mix of lazy, clueless, eccentric (in the bad way), and, well, demanding of others (in many cases). Many of them are not, strictly speaking, homeless, since before living in a shelter they were living in some sort of complicated situation that would take forever to explain and still make no sense. Sometimes they left that situation because of genuine safety concerns, other times because somebody got fed up with them, sometimes they left because they thought the shelter was a better place to get it together (and, to be honest, a good caseworker might be better than a dysfunctional relative), and sometimes, well, who knows?

    This category is a mixed bag. Some can be helped, others not so much. Some are actually quite nice and it's just sad that they're so clueless. Some are impossible to deal with personality-wise, but they have enough survival instinct that they'll do the minimum and get by. Really, these cases can't be neatly categorized.

    One problem is that there isn't a hard and fast line between categories. There are people who are mostly in category 3 yet also in another category, so they do deserve sympathy and help (don't interpret "deserve" as a call for public sector solutions). So you try your best. Also, while category 3 isn't always a very sympathetic bunch, some of them can do a decent job of passing for category 1, which means that assistance for category 1 inevitably creates some perverse incentives that exacerbate problems in category 3.

    There are no easy solutions here.

  • ||

    "I want to know more about the $100k/year that was spent when somebody was on the street, and the $21k/year that is spent now that the person is in a program."

    I don't think they're only counting direct spending, but rather counting indirect causes like the effects on crime, sanitation, lost business for neighborhoods, etc.

    As such, I think you're right in that there may very well be some very creative accounting going on.

    Again I think it's been pretty well nailed here, the homeless 'problem' is probably best addressed by cracking down on trespassing concerns, arresting the lawbreakers and otherwise letting them be.

    I think it's also a great point how various labor, housing and zoning laws essentially discriminate against the lowest economic rungs by eliminating some of the jobs and housing most available to them. I'm not sure that necessarily affects the homeless all that much, but it certainly affects the poor.

  • Ken Layne||

    Right, this is why I never comment ....

  • ChrisO||

    Thoreau, I worked at a free legal clinic a number of years ago, and I got a few of those (2)s and a lot of those (3)s you described. Most of the (1)s weren't in any shape to know they needed legal help.

    The Twos are indeed a joy to work with. With the Threes (and I usually saw a pretty clear distinction), I almost always knew that wouldn't use our assistance as a springboard to better things, but just keep stumbling from screw-up to screw-up. Quite sad, actually. I believe that part of growing up is learning that such people exist and that there really isn't fuck-all you can do to help them.

  • thoreau||

    ChrisO-

    My favorite Category 3 story is the person who got a part-time job to avoid taking a class. The shelter required that every resident take a career development class, taught by a staff member who is truly amazing at helping people with job searches. (He even gave good advice to volunteers on their own job searches.) Even people with jobs had to take the class, because if they were living in a shelter, well, clearly they need a better job. The only exception was for people who had to work during the time slot of the class.

    One resident got a part-time job that was so part-time she only had to work during the time slot of the class.

  • ||

    Jason: " Community has value. Okay, what does that mean?"
    well, there you go. Gold has value- theres a "market" that sets its worth. Community is concept. One that gets bulldozed (increasingly under "emminent domain" thievery) because its value isnt recognized by those who hold gold in the highest esteem.
    Im not opposed to profit, obviously: I work for a living. There are things I wont profit from. Thats true of most everyone here.

    When bottomless pockets start buying up all the land around you & your community, why is it the community that has to go, not the pockets? The default position is: gold profit trumps all other measures of value.
    Thats all Im saying, however mushily.

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