Housing First!

Under the leadership of Secretary Ben Carson, HUD has the right idea to fight homelessness.  I’m glad to read that the doctor has the right prescription: Housing First

HUD made $2 Million available to homeless programs, reads the headline. https://www.housingwire.com/articles/40695-hud-makes-2-billion-available-to-homeless-programs

Accountability to taxpayers is paramount in using funds for programs. HUD has been riddled with waste and graph, and the doctor has a remedy for HUDs ills and Secretary Carson will really help the homeless with this housing first approach.

An article in the guardian.com, with the headline “Entire homelessness agency could be eliminated by Trump’s budget cuts” concedes at least knowing the reason for recent budget cuts to HUDs homeless funding:

The cuts are explained in the proposal as reflecting a commitment to “fiscal responsibility”, and it foresees the slack being taken up by state and local governments and the private sector.

Fiscal responsibility, eliminating waste, is key to having a healthy economy, which prevents homelessness. The private sector should take up the balk of helping the homeless. And when you cut taxes that fund wasteful government spending, the private sector has more money to help the homeless.  Awhile back, pastor Rick Warren, who works with the private sector to help people, stated that with the high taxes, people didn’t have as much money to help others and funds dwindled under President BO.

The private sector, neighbors, churches, can get to know the needy and can better serve all their needs. In Bucks County, PA, churches give the homeless meals, clothing and take-home food. Churches also minister to the homeless, as I discussed in previous blogs.

Although the private sector cannot complete distinguish the slacker from the homeless who are serious about moving on up, it does a much better job of this than does the government. For the government and its cronies, it’s about keeping an agency funded. With the private sector, it’s neighbor helping neighbor.

In Bucks County a mental health hustler program’s funding was cut. Under this program, a mental health hustler approaches homeless people in an attempt to shanghai them to get taxpayer funds to buy them a ticket on the disoriented express that takes them to Penndel Mental Health Center, where people are legally doped up and are worse after they come out than when they came in.

It was laughable that the Courier Times said that cutting funds for this failed program, which allegedly gets housing for the homeless, hurts the homeless. This cut I understand goes all the way up to The Donald. Good job President Trump! We’re draining the swamp in Bucks County, which is a huge job.

Buck’s Rapid Response Team got a guy out of the woods and into housing. Took only three years!

What I like about HUD’s Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Program is that it’s priority is getting people housing, which is what helping the homeless is all about. What a novel idea: help the homeless find a home! One of the Bucks County mental health hustlers told me he doesn’t believe in housing first – that people have to get straight before they get housing. Talk about stereotyping homeless people. This policy helps guarantee business for the mental health industry.

The so-called emergency shelter in Levittown, PA has a waiting list of a few months, thanks to the inordinate amount of recovery homes in the area and the revolving door policy towards druggies and drunks. When people without substance abuse or other problem finally get into the shelter, they are subject to theft, violence, and harassment from those who display anti-social behavior.

One homeless people get a home, under this program, they can take care of any other problems they may have. In Bucks County, it’s axiomatic that homeless people need the services of a government sanctioned mental health center. People can find help on their own – through the church. Many churches have 12 step programs – some of them have programs that help people with any bad habits, hurts and hang ups, such as Celebrate Recovery, a national program which has local chapters. http://newlifephilly.net/celebrate-recovery

It is tax and spend progressives that create homelessness, today as it did during FDR’s New Raw Deal. Of course President Herbert Hoover and others contributed to homelessness. Where progressives rule, homelessness thrives.  This HUD program shows promise and the social cancer of homelessness has a chance to be cured, now that there’s a good doctor in the house!

Another Brick in The Wall

One of the myths about the homeless is that they are all mentally ill. Another myth is the way people are labeled as “mentally ill.”

Some experts don’t think “mentally ill”  is an accurate term. They don’t think that people with mental problems should be labeled as being ill.  For them, “illness”, such as the flu, is caused by a virus. They ask what is the source that causes mental illness?

At the community meals for the homeless and those in need in Bucks County, PA, there are a few guests who act in a bizarre manner. Some observers have postulated that they have mental problems. Are these people “mentally ill”, and not responsible for their behavior, the way a cold makes you sneeze? Well, we are more than just a connected series of organs, nerve endings, etc., that respond to stimuli. We are a special creation. We can reason and tell the difference between right and wrong.

There are some people who can’t, or won’t distinguish between right and wrong. One character, known as “Birdman”, goes from table to table at community meals, as people are finishing up their meal and asks them if they want various items that were set out for their table, as he reaches for the items. Last night at every table he tried to get ice tea, people turned him down.  A defeated predator, he slinked away and whined  “everyone has to keep it for themselves.”

At one meal, we told him we wanted what was on our table. I added that this is for our table; “go to your own table, leave us alone, you are annoying.”

At a meal after that, as I approached him at the back of the room as I was getting my drink, he asked “Am I annoying you?” I said he wasn’t. He then asked me how he annoys me. I responded “I’ll treat that as a rhetorical question.”

Birdman doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong. Is he “mentally ill?” No. He just has bad manners and doesn’t have borders. He evidently subscribes to the concept of “The Noble Savage”, where one ignores the restraints of civilization and just follows one’s animal instincts. This concept most recently became vogue at Woodstock, where unruly spoiled brats invaded the farm country at all hours with their revelry, disturbing people in the community.

When I was in elementary school years ago, when the Bible was read in the classroom, at recess we had “out of bounds”. This was an area marked off where we were not allowed to go. We weren’t just afraid that a safety or even our peers would catch us. It was just somewhere we did not dare go. Like the ladies room in the Star Trek Enterprise, a place where no man has gone before, it’s a place kids were reluctant to enter.

Birdman is oblivious to the concept of out of bounds.

There’s another nut – I use the term just to identify bizarre behavior – who goes to the community meals who also selfishly thinks she is a special privileged character who, not content with what the hosts graciously prepared for everyone else, demands a custom meal. I call her “Queen Nora.” At one meal the Queen asked “Do you have anything with beef?”

Both Birdman and Queen Nora think that anyone with a car is obligated to be their chauffeur, simply because they have a car and they do not.

While I’m on a roll, he’s another anecdote about another nut who has gone to the community meals. I don’t have a name for her yet. This one doesn’t like anyone to touch her or even walk behind her, especially when she sits at the table. On one occasion, as we were finishing a meal, another busload of guests came. The hosts were rolling a desert tray down the aisle.  Wanting to leave before the other people entered, she chirped “I’m finished my dinner; just give me my cupcake and I’ll go.” Nobody complied. “Does anyone speak English?”, she stammered. She held up her hand and repeatedly demanded “give me my cupcake!”

Even the few examples, whom some people on casual observation may conclude are people with mental problems, are not representative of homeless people.

The homeless are just a microcosm of society. And they are not all alike.

Today, society has become Godless. The Bible was taken out of the public schools. Pink Floyd got it right when they sang:

“We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.”

Indeed, in our society you are just another brick in the wall. This is the case with the mental health industry in Bucks County. It’s representatives canvas the homeless community like Jehovah’s Witnesses and shanghai the homeless. Their bate is housing. One representative told me that he doesn’t believe in “housing first” because the homeless have to get straightened out first. This presupposes that they all have such big drug, alcohol or mental problems that they need “professional” help before getting housing. Wrong!

The Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) also treats the homeless as if they are just another brick in the wall. Unlike others who hold the homeless accountable for their behavior, they’ve been known to give unruly homeless people a free pass, evidently reasoning that it is the way homeless people are supposed to act. This mentality fosters negative stereotypes about the homeless and contributes to hobophobia, the irrational fear of the homeless, which, incidentally, is not tax deductible.

Hummmmmm…

But not with God. He made us in his image and has taught us right from wrong. There are absolutes!

“Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have taken my instruction to heart: Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals or be terrified by their insults.” – Isaiah 51:7

Down But Not Out

Rick Proudfoot was an electrician. Because of the economy, he couldn’t find work and became homeless. He ended up sleeping in city parks; the penalty for which is $300 or 30 days in jail.

But this was only for a season. Somehow he found his way to Dignity Village, an official homeless community in Portland, Oregon. For two years now, he’s been CEO of the self-funded, self managed, and self governed community.

Lisa Larson was on the street for two years, camping on sidewalks and sleeping in abandoned buildings. While serving time in jail with her husband for chronically violating the ban against homeless camping in Milwaukie, Oregon, another homeless person told her about Dignity Village. Today she’s the village’s chief executive officer and the official spokesperson for Dignity Village.

Unlike Curly of The Three Stooges, you don’t have to be a victim of circumstances. You can get out of that place, if it’s the last thing you ever do and make a better life.

The moral of the story is not to write off people who are down and out. Homeless people have the potential to improve their lot.

People in Bucks County, PA should learn a lesson from these success stories. Here in Bucks, the homeless are often written off a never-do-wells, and the establishment just wants to keep them down. The conventional wisdom is that the average homeless person is a mental case, druggie or drunk. People who frequent the library want them removed without cause. On one occasion a county official said that people were not comfortable visiting the nearby Veterans Memorial when the homeless are there.

There certainly are some mental cases in the group. I’ve gathered that at least two of them who attend the community meals are complete nutcases. And there are a few drunks and druggies. The druggies are generally refugees from the local recovery houses that the feds have pushed on the community in lower Bucks County. There are about 100 of them just in Levittown, PA. The biggest thing the homeless are hooked on is tobacco.

The homeless in Bucks County are fair game for the mental health industry, whose hustlers aggressively canvas the homeless community to sign them up for their services and use taxpayer funds. When I was on a quest for housing, Alan Johnson, now with Bucks County Family Services, said he’d find housing for me if I was willing to write myself off as being so messed up mentally I could not work the rest of my life. He’s made that offer to others.

Alan once told me that he doesn’t subscribe to housing first. He said that people have to get straight before they move into a residence. This presupposes that all homeless people are dysfunctional. I vehemently disagree!

Many of the homeless in lower Bucks County work, some sporadically, some somewhat regularly. One guy, for example, one of the “library people” is a professional homeless person. He quit jobs because he doesn’t want to work but just wants handouts and to play video games in the library all day. Many of the homeless, however, are serious about working. At one of the community meals I overheard a conversation between two homeless guys who have been working sporadically. They agreed that they want to get into a work routine.

Some homeless people have gotten good jobs and are living like everyone else.

If they are willing, homeless people can change their circumstances, given the opportunity. Even those who abuse drugs and alcohol can change. It’s good that churches in the area are reaching out to the homeless and not just helping them with physical needs; they help them with their problems. At one community meal, one of the hosts ministered to a guy with a drug problem, one on one. Sometime after that, I saw him at a temporary treatment center. He realized the seriousness of the problem and told me he is determined to persevere with treatment. I believe he moved on to a longer term treatment center.

Another guy recently returned to the community and got clean. At one of the community meals a host announced that he was going to give his testimony.

Ultimately, it’s God who can deliver people, no matter what the problem, if you let Him.

“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.”

–Nahum 1:7

No More Back of The Bus

In Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, it was a crime for a black person not to give up her seat in the back of a bus for a white person. In Bucks County, PA in 2016, it’s a crime for a homeless person who has nowhere to go to sleep on public property.

Both cases are an example of discrimination. Like blacks under Jim Crow, the homeless are treated like second class citizens.

Today’s homeless should learn a lesson on how to best handle hate driven discrimination from Rosa Parks, et al.  Mrs. Parks didn’t burn the bus, but just refused to comply with an outrageous rule. Consequently, she was arrested.

As a result of the arrest, blacks boycotted the buses until the bus company got rid of this discriminatory rule. It was tough; blacks had to walk very far to get where they were going. But it was worth it. It gave the black community hope that they could change the way things were.

And they did!

The homeless in Bucks County have to give up their freedom of choice if they want a place to live. They are constantly driven off of public land, with no place to go. There is a waiting list for the alleged emergency shelters and for housing assistance.

The best chance to get housing is through Bucks County’s Mental Health Hustlers. In exchange for signing up for mental health services and signing off their freedom of choice, like scalpers at a baseball game, the homeless are sold tickets for the Disoriented Express, vouchers paid for by the taxpayers. The cost, at first hidden, is high.

Like the Kanamits in the Twilight Zone episode To Serve Man, who offered earthlings peace and prosperity, only to use them for food, the mental health hustlers offer the homeless a solution to their problem only to exploit them for their own purposes, destroying them with dope and psychobabble. It’s all about the health hustlers.

The massive evictions of homeless people, only to be Shanghaied and taken aboard The Ship of Fools must stop.  The homeless should boycott the mental health industry in Bucks County. Maybe then the county will stop falsely labeling the homeless as nutcases and addicts and will offer them housing first.

Another way to fight discrimination is to behave in an exemplary manner. Much of the discrimination against the homeless is driven by hobophobia, the irrational fear of the homeless. Drunken brawls and evidence of drug use and other erratic behavior at the Veteran’s Memorial in Levittown, PA, for example, draws negative attention to the homeless. Much of the problem is created by dopers from the local recovery houses, but the homeless are considered guilty by association, even when the drunks and the dopers visit the memorial at different times than do civil people, who happen to be homeless.

Rather than have narrow minded people from the nearby municipal building and vicinity stereotype the homeless when a few individuals act up, the homeless need to show them who they really are. This happened recently when the Delaware Valley Vietnam Veterans met with the homeless and got a better understanding of who they are.

Instead of telling the authorities they are uncomfortable in coming to the memorial because the homeless are there and want the homeless chased away, people should talk with the homeless and decide for themselves who they really are. As a homeless saying goes, “don’t talk about us; talk with us.”

Take a lesson from Rosa Parks. Don’t lash out in anger, act civilly but stand up for your rights and let the world know who you really are.

“She sat down in order that we all might stand up.”

Industry Not Pest Control

Instead of writing the homeless off as useless bums, encourage them and help them to better themselves.

Unfortunately, some members of the homeless community make a bad name for the homeless, and the public puts a one size fits all label on them.

For sure, there are problem people among the homeless – the druggies, the drunks, people with mental problems.  Recently, I experienced an example of people who have the gimmees. This reflects an attitude in this country, as particularly exemplified in Bernie Sanders, et al, that people are entitled to what others have.

I picked up a formerly homeless friend at a bus stop and a woman who had just become homeless who was talking to him, waiting for the bus. I dropped the man off at Walmart and took her to the Oxford Valley Mall. She wanted to stop at the nearby Salvation Clothing Store, so I waited for her at the mall while I ate lunch. She also wanted to stop at a church and gave me the impression she was going there for help with her homeless problem. Instead, it was a quixotic quest. At one point, she got on the phone and told a friend that I would drive her to his place, which was on the other side of town.

I refused (she hadn’t even asked me).

I told the woman that she could get clothes free at some of the community dinners. “I don’t like what they have,” she quipped. When she got her change when she checked out at the Salvation Army, she asked the clerk what date was on a penny. I preempted the woman as the clerk went for her reading glasses, telling her we have to get going in order to take her to the bus that will take her to a free meal.

She begged me to drive her to the meal because “I want to be there when the doors open.” I firmly told her that I would take her to the free bus. I did. When we got there I pointed out where people pick up the bus, as we drove by waiting people. She said she wanted to go into the nearby library.

I reminded her about the bus stop.

I met the guy I dropped off at Walmart at the library and took him to the meal. I left the woman on the ash heap of history.

Other homeless people, however, don’t think they are entitled to the services of others, including the guy I dropped off at Walmart. When it snowed this winter, some homeless people found work shoveling snow.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city worker has been offering homeless people work cleaning up the city and offered food, shelter, and other services for their efforts.

This is the kind of thing we need in Bucks County, PA.

Given the opportunity, homeless people will work. I overheard a conversation at a community meal between two homeless people about working. They both were working sporadically. One of them said he wants to get into a routine.

Some homeless people have done volunteer work and go to the library to further their education. I’ve seen homeless people reading books outside of the library. On a few occasions, they were discussing Shakespeare.

Since I started hanging around the homeless two years ago, some of them have found work and have moved on. Recently, a homeless friend got a job in another state.

There are other ways the homeless can help themselves. The public library in Levittown, PA offers a chair yoga class. After having lived in my car a few months, I started stiffening up. My feet swelled. The yoga class helped me get the knots out, helped me relax, and even helped keep internal organs healthy. Kava tea also helped relax my muscles.

In Bucks County, finding shelter is the biggest problem. The “emergency” shelter has a months long waiting list, and it takes a year or two to get county assisted housing.

By offering homeless people work, they can save up for housing. Still, some people have a hard time getting the money for housing and they could use some help.

Housing first is a good idea. Yesterday I read a piece on Facebook where an advocate championed housing first. The only part of the advocate’s plan I question is the idea of putting people with addictions and other mental health problems in housing first. The advocate’s plan is to provide housing for all homeless people and link them with the services they require.

Some problems don’t require institutionalization. It’s a matter of degree. The druggies from the recovery houses in Levittown, however,  should be sequestered in a place as is the case of insane asylums. The 12 Steps program talks about addictions as “insanity.” The druggies are unleashed on the community during the day where they create problems. A security guard was added to the library as a result.

Refugees from the recovery houses join the ranks of the homeless in lower Bucks County and end up in the woods and the emergency shelter. Between them and the drunks who go through the revolving door at the shelter, there is overcrowding.

Some homeless, even those who need extra help should get into housing first and get the services they need. Besides getting regular work, they can get into programs to help them. As the guy I picked up at the bus stop says “we all have baggage.”

Churches and church related have stepped up to the plate. The hosts at the community meals have been developing relationship with their guest and mentor them. The 12 Steps Journey program is offered at two different churches in Bucks County, one on Tuesday nights and one on Thursday nights.

http://www.12stepjourney.com/ 

In many areas, such as Bucks County, the homeless are unwanted and are harassed. They are humans made in the image of God, yet people treat them like pestilence. As I illustrated in previous blogs, they are discriminated against in places such as the public library in Levittown. One several occasions, the Bucks County guard from the municipal building has tried to shoo homeless people from the Veteran’s Memorial, although they were following the rules.

On one occasion, the guard said that some people who wanted to visit the memorial “feel uncomfortable” going to the memorial with the homeless people there. A standard ploy he has used is that the county commissioners are coming and they need to skedaddle. Really?

Another guy and I came up with the idea of having the homeless fix up and manage vacant property in Bucks County, in the spirit of the Homestead Act of 1862.  http://www.timespub.com/2015/04/30/working-for-a-place-to-stay/ 

A homeless friend who expressed interest in this project suggested that we filter people who need shelter. We would direct people with addictions and other major problems to the proper place, and direct other people to a place that simply provides shelter. I like the idea.

This is a compromise between the view of the advocate who doesn’t want any filtering for housing and the view of an official who is with the Bucks County Health Department. This official flatly said that housing first is a bad idea. He thinks that every homeless person should go to a place to get straight before getting housing. This presupposes that all homeless people have such serious issues that they are not fit for a residence.

The official offered me housing in exchange for me allowing myself to be labeled incurable, that I was so messed up mentally, disabled, that I was unable to work the rest of my life. I turned him down and told him that this would be fraud.

The advocate ignores the fact that there are some homeless people who need to be institutionalized before getting housing. No housing first for them.

One size doesn’t fit all. We need to give the homeless an opportunity to help themselves.