Just Say No

One size does not fit all. Two people in a similar situation will not always act the same way. Take the homeless.

Although contributions to homeless stereotypes are not tax deductible, some homeless people, for example, in Bucks County, PA, are great contributors to the stereotype that the homeless are lazy, are nut cases, have no goals, are drunks and druggies, have no borders and just want handouts.

Just yesterday, at the community meal, a guy known as “Birdman” grabbed for all the gusto he could. He went to a beverage container, which was for all the guests, and filled a large container he had, without asking. He asked one of the hosts if there was any more of the beverage as he approached the large container again. The host said “no”, but Birdman checked anyway.

At this meal I didn’t notice him doing his usual rounds to each table to grab bread and other items that were on each table, which for designated for the guests at that table, maybe because other guests had confronted him about this rude behavior.

Birdman is not officially homeless, but in the category of the needy.

After the meal, Birdman and a homeless woman, known as The Queen of England, purposely missed the homeless bus, and counted on bumming rides from people who have cars. They tried to get rides from several people, who turned them down, knowing that they are users. As I walked briskly to my car to try to avoid the two, Birdman suddenly drew close to me and asked for a ride, which I declined.

“Why not?”, he demanded.

“Because I said no,” I answered, and got into my car and drove off.

These two  (sh**)birds of a feather are an excellent example of the entitlement mentality in our country today. I’ve divined that they believe that because they don’t have a car,  those who do are obligated to chauffeur them anywhere they want to go – that their wish is other’s command.

Other homeless people, by contrast, don’t impose on others but apply themselves in order to get out of this place, if it’s the last thing they ever do. One formerly homeless friend told me that he doesn’t want to become too comfortable in his homeless situation so that he has incentive to move forward. He applied himself and got on call work. He had saved some money and bought a truck, but could not afford to keep it running. So he got a bike, and sometimes rode an hour to work!

On a few occasions when I saw him at a community meal when he had no transportation, I learned he had a very long walk to the job, so I gave him a ride.

My former homeless friend had substance abuse problems, and through a twelve step program and by going to God, he put the problem at bay. Unlike the sh**birds, he never demanded a ride, especially when there were other options available and not just for recreation.

This guy, like others I’ve noticed in the homeless community, have moved forward. Instead of developing PMS (poor me syndrome) or an entitlement mentality and giving up, he worked his way out of his situation and is becoming a productive member of society.

By giving into the users, you are not helping them or society. As former first Lady Nancy Reagan said about drugs, “just say no.”

One of the first homeless people I met when I started hanging out with the homeless almost 2 ½ years ago is a professional homeless person, although, I believe through county housing assistance, is staying in government assisted housing. He quit two jobs someone had gotten for him; he just wanted handouts and to stay in the Land of The Lotus Eaters. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus-eaters

I believe he, like his girlfriend, is getting disability. Not the official reason, but the government is taking care of them because they are lazy and not responsible for their actions. Awhile back, the guard at the Levittown library caught them having sex at the homeless bus stop. One member of the Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) lobbied for them and got them off the hook, although the county punished the rest of the homeless community by removing the bus shelter. Other homeless people were singled out and individually punished for fighting at the bus stop.

There is hope for the homeless. Given the opportunity, a hand up, some members of this community can move forward and not contribute to homeless stereotypes and flee from the Land of The Lotus Eaters.

“Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked.” -Psalm 82:4

 

What is a Homeless Advocate?

To resolve problems, you need a strategy. And persistence. Dignity Village, a community for the homeless was created by facing the problem and persistently using tools to find a solution for the homeless in Portland, Oregon. Our alleged advocates for the homeless in Bucks County, PA could learn from homeless activists in Portland.

Homeless activist Jack Tafari, who had become homeless himself, led the campaign to create Dignity Village. He became a voice for the homeless.

To deal with confrontations between the homeless and the Portland police, Jack combined Internet communications with traditional public relations techniques. He capitalized on the rule that the police had to give 24 hours notice before sweeping out a homeless camp. Jack wrote press releases about the event and homeless advocates set up a homeless parades and made sure they were well publicized.

As the homeless moved to a new place, handicapped people in wheelchairs led the parade, followed by a cavalcade of shopping carts filled with all the refugees stuff.

Jack started promoting his cause in the local media and, as did Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s movement, his campaign got national media coverage.  One event that got national coverage was the shopping cart parade held on Martin Luther King Day 2001. Two disabled people in wheelchairs led 35 shopping carts. The spectacle of armed policemen herding indigent people like cattle caused people to wake up.

As a negotiating tactic, Jack sent a press release that threatened another shopping cart parade. This caught the attention of Portland authorities. Consequently, they extended the stay at the homeless camp under the Fremont Bridge site. After further negotiations, Portland arranged for the homeless to set up at the Sunderland Recycling Yard.

Jack advanced his “Out of the Doorways” campaign as a staff writer and submissions editor for the Portland newspaper Street Roots.

The campaign was successful. Dignity Village was incorporated in Portland as a membership based non- profit organization and set up as a self governing entity where residents must sign a membership agreement as to rules of behavior.

In Bucks County, PA, the closest we got to a media event like the Portland shopping cart parades was a chance meeting between the homeless, along with advocate Morris Derry, President of No More Pain, the Bucks County Information Officer, and the Delaware Valley Vietnam Veterans at the Veterans Memorial in Levittown, PA. The Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need’s (AHTN) silence on the issue was deafening. They didn’t want to get involved in legal issues, they said.

Some time ago I approached AHTN to ask them to work we me and another friend of the homeless to create more much needed shelter. AHTN’s president told me that doing this was not possible because 24/7 security was needed.

Also at the memorial was a P.T. Barnum like public relations official from the county. As reported in LevittownNow.com, “County Public Information Director Chris Edwards said rangers were not actively removing homeless residents but would be working to reduce the population at the county center, including the Vietnam War Memorial by the Levittown Library.”  What?

Reducing the homeless population, to pierce the veil, is just a start. Bucks County considers the homeless an eyesore and its goal is to get rid of all of them, as if they were lepers.

Edwards also said that the county would continue to work with the homeless population at the property going forward. Really? Bucks County has a poor track record of helping the homeless. During the eviction in the woods of Queen Anne Park the rangers left pamphlets with phone numbers for housing assistance. The county also put up a sign for housing help by the memorial before the homeless were evicted.

I called the phone number on the signs and there is no more room in the shelter,”  explained Morris. He also stated “I understand what their (the county) concerns are, but I really don’t think their dealing with it the right way.” Well said! People need to hear the truth.

Another homeless advocate pointed out that the homeless have been taking care of the grounds at the memorial.

A veteran who was at the pow-wow at the memorial suggested finding a building for those without permanent homes. That’s a noble idea, but implementing it is another thing. If the vets get involved, they will be hamstrung by a callous county that has been playing games, stonewalling efforts to find suitable shelter for the homeless, the same way that President LBJ hamstrung the military in Vietnam,  stifling the efforts of the brave fighting soldiers.

Homelessness is a problem that won’t go away on its own. Bucks County reminds me of a family cat who thought she was hiding from our dog when they played chase by hiding under the bed with his rear end sticking out.

I’m that little boy who, when the emperor appeared before his subjects naked, told him he needed to put some clothes on. Likewise, I will expose the establishment in Buck County, not just the government but other Pharisees who say they stand for truth and justice  to show people who they really are!

We shall overcome!

The Answer My Friend?

“How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, and how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Yes, and how many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, and how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?”

–Lyrics from Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind

My question, the answer of which seems to be blowing in the wind, is how many years will the homeless problem exist in Bucks County, PA before the homeless are allowed to be free.

On Friday, a substitute guard from the municipal building next to the Levittown public library figuratively dragged two regular homeless people out of the library and told them to tell other homeless people to stay away from the nearby Veteran’s Memorial after 5 p.m., by order of the Bucks County Commissioners. Interesting, another impertinent piss ant substitute guard had approached some homeless people at the memorial several weeks ago and snapped “you know the drill; when the library’s open, you need to make yourselves scarce.”

The rogue guard, Friday,  asked the homeless couple for their papers, their ID. They refused after they asked if they were under arrest.

I believe that these guards were egged on by the government leeches at the WIC office in the municipal building, who had kicked out two homeless woman, one with COPD, one winter who just wanted to get out of the cold for a short while, during business hours!

A sign at the memorial that states that all belongings at the memorial have to be removed by April 29. This just pertains to things. This man Friday’s  rogue guard informed them they have to be off the premises by then, but evidently wants to start harassing the homeless sooner. He said he’s going to raid the memorial at 5:30 in the morning starting Monday and threatened to send a SWAT team and put homeless folks in the paddy wagon.

Let them come. I don’t think the Bucks County Commissioners want that kind of publicity.

At a commissioners meeting in the late 80s, it was realized that the homeless problem was not restricted to Philadelphia, but right here in Bucks County. So Bucks County knows about the problem, but now tries to pretend it doesn’t exist in the spiffy Philly suburbs.

Homeless people struggle to ferret out a place to lay their heads, and places to go are shrinking. Housing assistance takes one to two years. In the meantime, where do they go, unless they sign up with the county, which has been trying to Shanghai the homeless and bring them aboard the Disoriented Express? A guy from the county, who was with Penndel Mental Health, offered me housing in exchange for labeling myself as someone so messed up mentally that I could never work again.

Conventional wisdom writes off the homeless. Rather than give them a hand up, the homeless are treated like weeds that have invaded a painstakingly manicured suburban lawn.

There is a non profitFamily Promise of Lower Bucks — that is lending a hand in the homeless problem in Bucks County. Although they are providing, food, shelter, job training and assistance and other services just for families, it will take names off the housing list, one source they are drawing from. I signed up to volunteer for public relations and advocacy for the homeless with Family Promise, which is a national organization that has recently moved into Bucks County. So far, they have just one family (my latest information) ready to take advantage of the program.

For sure, there are some homeless individuals who are creating problems for everyone, and that the homeless can do a better job of self policing, but the harassment is not the best way to resolve the problem.
The homeless, many of them decent, law abiding citizens who are just in a difficult situation, are getting fed up with the harassment. Many of the encounters with authorities are arbitrary and capricious. Homeless representatives are about to take legal action, including filing another complaint with the ACLU as well as bringing protesters to create a media covered event.

Concerned people are trying to find a solution to the problem. Just removing the homeless, out of sight and out of mind, is no solution, nor is harassment. I, for one, would like to see the problem worked  out amicably.