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Author Topic: Homelessness  (Read 477 times)

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Offline MathimTopic starter

Homelessness
« on: October 11, 2019, 05:24:05 PM »
I couldn't think of a more profound title for this but it's starting to get me thinking about the situation in the U.S.

I'm currently struggling to find a new place because my landlords have decided to sell the property. Evidently they're being overly generous by giving me until the end of the year to be out rather than only 30 days as is required by law. I don't make much and most apartments want you to have 2.5-3 times the amount of monthly rent in income. I live in California and even with our minimum wage being higher than most states, that's asking a hell of a lot.

The neighborhood and surrounding area I'm in have massive homeless populations. There are entire blocks that have had homeless encampments erected all along them, over a block long, and that were there for weeks because we don't have enough police to drive them out and clean it up. And we still don't seem to be attacking the root problem that makes this happen in the first place.

I don't know if this is accurate but I keep hearing that we in the U.S. have more empty housing units than we have homeless people and that's insane to me. It's as insane as places that serve no purpose other than to be places for worship services not dedicating themselves to becoming homeless shelters, but religious hypocrisy is for another topic.

The ultimate threat to making any kind of positive progressive change is, in my eyes, homelessness. Workers can't effectively strike because having no income threatens their ability to keep a roof over their head. People can go without money for many things, food, utilities, clothing, but once you lose the place to lay your head at night, there's very little chance of coming back from that. There's also the fear of what comes along with being homeless, namely being arrested for vagrancy and ending up in prison and the associated trauma, potentially crippling or deadly violence and sexual assault that can happen there (or even just out on the streets).

But why should this be surprising in a nation where it cannot even the universal right to healthcare cannot be agreed upon? How has a country that's been so ass-backwards economically for so long not already collapsed? It boggles the mind.

It's hard to hold out any hope that things will get any better, for me personally or for just the state of affairs in general. If there was a way to actually get the people who have the resources to help and those who SAY they want to help to actually work together and combat the wealthy, corrupt elite's ultimate weapon against the people they exploit, then maybe there would be. But empty rooms will stay empty because no one can afford them or has the heart to actually say enough is enough.

Am I crazy or is making housing a universal human right not the biggest step in reducing wealth inequality? All else aside, having that singular, most significant foundation seems like it should be the number-one priority, but we're still struggling to afford medications. I don't even know what to say anymore.

Offline Oniya

Re: Homelessness
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2019, 01:31:09 PM »
I really can't offer much other than to let you know that you're not crazy, and you're not alone in thinking this.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Homelessness
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2019, 04:37:50 PM »
I don't know if this is accurate but I keep hearing that we in the U.S. have more empty housing units than we have homeless people and that's insane to me. It's as insane as places that serve no purpose other than to be places for worship services not dedicating themselves to becoming homeless shelters, but religious hypocrisy is for another topic.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/EVACANTUSQ176N

Nonseasonal vacancy is somewhat less than this, though still comfortably over ten million for the past decade.

With homes being treated as investment properties, we get this situation. It is not only a major driver of homelessness, but also causes many local community issues as vacant homes go uncared for. They rot, decay, become homes for transient squatters, and so on.

To get explicitly political, this is the sort of thing Elizabeth Warren is very keen on correcting. Eliminating foreign investment into residential properties would probably end this entirely on its own. Letting the bottom fall completely out from underneath the banks during the last crisis might also have solved it.

In any case, if housing is an investment, it cannot also be affordable.

If housing is not affordable, you see the rise of communist political thought. This has been known since the 19th century, and was an active part of American economic planning post-WWII.

Offline MathimTopic starter

Re: Homelessness
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2019, 06:51:51 PM »
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/EVACANTUSQ176N

Nonseasonal vacancy is somewhat less than this, though still comfortably over ten million for the past decade.

With homes being treated as investment properties, we get this situation. It is not only a major driver of homelessness, but also causes many local community issues as vacant homes go uncared for. They rot, decay, become homes for transient squatters, and so on.

To get explicitly political, this is the sort of thing Elizabeth Warren is very keen on correcting. Eliminating foreign investment into residential properties would probably end this entirely on its own. Letting the bottom fall completely out from underneath the banks during the last crisis might also have solved it.

In any case, if housing is an investment, it cannot also be affordable.

If housing is not affordable, you see the rise of communist political thought. This has been known since the 19th century, and was an active part of American economic planning post-WWII.

So we just need enough MAGA dipshits to lose their jobs and maybe we'll start seeing things shift. If even the dumbest among us figure out they're being screwed, we can end this madness with voting rather than eventually coming to point of having to break out the pitchforks and torches.

Offline Skynet

Re: Homelessness
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2019, 07:34:21 PM »
So we just need enough MAGA dipshits to lose their jobs and maybe we'll start seeing things shift. If even the dumbest among us figure out they're being screwed, we can end this madness with voting rather than eventually coming to point of having to break out the pitchforks and torches.

Not necessarily. Disenchantment with the current neoliberal system does breed more political extremism as an alternative, including communists, but it also works the other direction too. A lot of conservative become even more far-right when their homes foreclose. The problem then is when demagogues like Trump come along and capitalize on their resentment and existential fear that nationalism, fascism, etc is the right way forward.

That's why you see Fox News and so many conservative YT channels online focusing more on gender and race issues than evangelical sexual puritanism (casting feminists as the puritans instead) or exaltation of the rich. Capitalism just for the sake of tax breaks for the rich, or libertarianism, is not an appealing sale as it once was.

Offline MathimTopic starter

Re: Homelessness
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2019, 11:31:24 PM »
There's no humane solution to the problem of human stupidity then. We just have to continue letting it destroy everything like a gangrenous limb.

Offline Skynet

Re: Homelessness
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2019, 11:41:18 PM »
There's no humane solution to the problem of human stupidity then. We just have to continue letting it destroy everything like a gangrenous limb.

For every action, there's a reaction. Neo-Nazis may have more appeal than in the past, but there's more public skepticism regarding laissez-faire capitalism and the dire need for reform (green energy, cutting back on wars in the Middle East, etc). And antifa protestors are outnumbering actual fascists in quite a few rallies. Establishment liberalism is becoming less and less of an answer, and if the Dems nominate the obviously unsuitable Biden, many Dems will look to another more leftist solution.

The Great Depression brought about fascism, but it also brought about the New Deal.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Homelessness
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2019, 10:03:57 AM »
So we just need enough MAGA dipshits to lose their jobs and maybe we'll start seeing things shift. If even the dumbest among us figure out they're being screwed, we can end this madness with voting rather than eventually coming to point of having to break out the pitchforks and torches.

People wearing MAGA hats have legitimate grievances, even if you might feel they are misdirecting their anger at the absolute best. They will flock to whomever most charismatically convinces them that he or she has the solution to their ailments.

More suffering will at best make them drop one demagogue for another. In order to counter the rise of authoritarians of every stripe, we need to embrace exposure and critical thinking as ideals in our culture.



Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Homelessness
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2019, 11:08:36 AM »
People wearing MAGA hats have legitimate grievances, even if you might feel they are misdirecting their anger at the absolute best. They will flock to whomever most charismatically convinces them that he or she has the solution to their ailments.

More suffering will at best make them drop one demagogue for another. In order to counter the rise of authoritarians of every stripe, we need to embrace exposure and critical thinking as ideals in our culture.

That's what I was thinking. MAGA adherents know they are being screwed. They're just being tricked into blaming the wrong source.

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Re: Homelessness
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2019, 01:18:53 AM »
They know they are being screwed, but they don't know the real reason why.  Veks is right--we need more education, meaning more people who understand the underlying issues with wealth inequality and the power imbalances inherent in society...but those MAGA-hat wearing folks already mistrust institutions of higher learning because they are inherently non-religious, and the MAGA-hat crowd is inherently evangelical.

Offline Oniya

Re: Homelessness
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2019, 03:28:08 AM »
They know they are being screwed, but they don't know the real reason why.  Veks is right--we need more education, meaning more people who understand the underlying issues with wealth inequality and the power imbalances inherent in society...but those MAGA-hat wearing folks already mistrust institutions of higher learning because they are inherently non-religious, and the MAGA-hat crowd is inherently evangelical.

I commented earlier to Little Oni that Trump is pretty much 9.5/10 for breaking commandments - and the 'half' is because his father was also a piece of crap (that's the parent he honors).  She commented that he's actually 10.5/11.  'Thou shalt not get caught.'

*cough*

The MAGA-hat crowd needs to be approached on their level - possibly through avenues they do trust.  Some of them are willing to self-sabotage, though.  I've seen interviews with people that would rather die because of unaffordable health care, rather than support an initiative that might benefit people they hate.

Offline Clio

Re: Homelessness
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2019, 12:19:06 PM »
I usually avoid this board, but this topic caught my attention because I personally work with the homeless in Orlando and have for about a decade. There are so many reasons why people are homeless and every story is different. What’s startling to me is how many people don’t WANT to help them. Like I advertise the volunteering opportunity every week on my meetup page and not many people sign up. Some have even told me they think it’s morally wrong to do so. It boggles the mind, honestly. Some are actually scared of the homeless, which again I don’t understand, but I at least appreciate their honesty.

Some I know don’t come because the organization I work with is run by churches, and it provides a short church service along with food and necessary items. I understand that, but sometimes churches can do good things. Anyway, all this is to say that it is not unique to the US. When I lived in New Zealand, the housing there was unbelievably expensive. More expensive in Auckland. However, there are places in the US that housing is cheaper than people around the world would believe. For example, my grandparents’ house in rural Indiana (but still within 30 minutes of Indianapolis) is a massive historic stone house in good shape with a great yard and 2 storeys. It’s currently on the market for under $150,000. In NYC or Cali, though, that would be impossible.

Most people don’t realize they’re one or two paychecks away from being homeless themselves. The judgment tossed toward those on the streets makes me so angry, as they don’t know their stories or pasts. Also, many people aren’t homeless for long. It is temporary and they quickly find a job and a place to stay. I have known some of the people I serve for the full 10 years, and unfortunately I will probably never see them off the streets. They have no desire to get off. However, most of them get clothes from us to go to work or interviews.


Online Giantmutantcrab

Re: Homelessness
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2019, 06:40:32 AM »
Ms. Crab was homeless for a while in her life.

She struggled with personal problems. Many.

She found herself a job and got some help to get out of the street.

But that leaves scars that just do not go away.

I do not possess the resources to significantly help the homeless. Governments do. But taking care of the most vulnerable is not sexy. It's not flamboyant. And many voters want big bright things to catch their attention when they vote.

And the homeless just don't really matter all that much in the world of politics.

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Re: Homelessness
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2019, 02:10:56 PM »
I think that what really sours people to helping the homeless are the panhandlers who make themselves out to be destitute and homeless. It's infuriating to give a guy the last couple bucks you got in your pocket because you think that you're helping someone, only to drive by a couple hours later to see that same person climbing into a shiny new Mercedes complete with the temporary paper plates. It also doesn't help that there are those who are on the streets because they choose to be there.

I used to work with two different church groups working with the homeless and the people on the streets. We had one guy who had all the skills that could get him off the streets and into a place to stay until he could get his own place, but he wouldn't because of his dog. He wasn't willing to improve his life and be temporarily parted from his dog that he would stay on the street. Then there is the rampant drug addiction that courses through Pasco County. We were doing a feeding and in a water run off ditch a young woman was ODing on something. When we called 911, the paramedics did their job but it seemed like they wanted to toss her back out into the ditch.

But I think being homeless is as much a state of mind as it is a state of being without shelter. We had a young man who was only 22, an Army Combat vet living at home with his parents, but he spent most of his time on the streets because when he went home it didn't feel like 'home'.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Homelessness
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2019, 02:24:41 PM »
It's infuriating to give a guy the last couple bucks you got in your pocket because you think that you're helping someone, only to drive by a couple hours later to see that same person climbing into a shiny new Mercedes complete with the temporary paper plates.

Do those people actually exist? I've always dismissed the 'mansion+Mercedes panhandler' as a Fox News fantasy.

Online Hawkwood

Re: Homelessness
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2019, 04:58:25 PM »
The city I live in is heavily dominated by oil. When the oil crash hit, a lot of "rich-marginal" people were thrown into poverty. They'd assumed that their high-wave oil-jobs would continue indefinitely, and were living at the end of long lines of credit. There was something quite... sad to see people driving to food banks in their top-of-the-line Mercedes and wearing designer clothing. It takes a great deal of humility to go and look for handouts, I think. Not something that most people would want to do.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Homelessness
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2019, 05:12:59 PM »
The city I live in is heavily dominated by oil. When the oil crash hit, a lot of "rich-marginal" people were thrown into poverty. They'd assumed that their high-wave oil-jobs would continue indefinitely, and were living at the end of long lines of credit. There was something quite... sad to see people driving to food banks in their top-of-the-line Mercedes and wearing designer clothing. It takes a great deal of humility to go and look for handouts, I think. Not something that most people would want to do.

That I find more plausible, yeah. It's a very different situation than the implied deceptiveness of Pocket's example - which might have been a firsthand account, hence my original question.

Offline Clio

Re: Homelessness
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2019, 09:56:51 PM »
I think that what really sours people to helping the homeless are the panhandlers who make themselves out to be destitute and homeless. It's infuriating to give a guy the last couple bucks you got in your pocket because you think that you're helping someone, only to drive by a couple hours later to see that same person climbing into a shiny new Mercedes complete with the temporary paper plates. It also doesn't help that there are those who are on the streets because they choose to be there.

I used to work with two different church groups working with the homeless and the people on the streets. We had one guy who had all the skills that could get him off the streets and into a place to stay until he could get his own place, but he wouldn't because of his dog. He wasn't willing to improve his life and be temporarily parted from his dog that he would stay on the street. Then there is the rampant drug addiction that courses through Pasco County. We were doing a feeding and in a water run off ditch a young woman was ODing on something. When we called 911, the paramedics did their job but it seemed like they wanted to toss her back out into the ditch.

But I think being homeless is as much a state of mind as it is a state of being without shelter. We had a young man who was only 22, an Army Combat vet living at home with his parents, but he spent most of his time on the streets because when he went home it didn't feel like 'home'.

The homeless I work with are all types. Some are just temporary, and some have been there since I started nearly a decade ago and will remain that way for life. I treat them all the same. I don’t judge. Many of them are mentally ill, but their financial situation prevents them from being able to get insurance and therefore the help they need to get off the streets. That doesn’t mean I don’t get occasionally frustrated when one gets a bit demanding and rude, but I understand that I have never been in his position. His life is harder than mine has ever been. So yes, there are career homeless with no desire to change that, but there are often legitimate reasons that they became that way. This country has treated minorities and the mentally ill horribly, and when you combine the two, it’s a mess. Let alone adding in addiction and alcoholism. People sneer and look down at them instead of helping or just talking to them, and that doesn’t help in the least.

I feel safer and more comfortable around most of my homeless guys than I do around regular men I see at restaurants or out in public.