December 13, 2006
Strangernomics

An item in this week's The Stranger is baffled by a conundrum:

ROOTS, a U-District youth shelter with 25 beds, has seen an increase in the number of homeless people they serve, despite higher city and state funding for homeless services.
I'm reminded of James Taranto's ongoing series about news articles that ponder the "paradox" that prison population grows despite fall in crime rate.

The Stranger's blog has more discussion about the mystery that a growing number of homeless people are showing up to get the free food.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at December 13, 2006 10:58 AM | Email This
Comments
1. Golly, gee, increase funding and services and the number of "homeless" goes up. Duh!! The Stranger and other socialist thinkers in this city will never learn that the only way to keep the homeless problem in check is to decrease the services and funding. These homeless bums aren't stupid--they will seek out the best deals, even if it means migrating to another city.

My bus stop is in Belltown and it is not at all unusual to have street people to get on the bus and discuss amongst themselves who's giving away the best meals at the moment or which place is the best for a place to sleep or has the least restrictive rules. Or they share tips on the easiest way to get money--for awhile it was "only 10 cents towards a hamburger" or "only 25 cents towards bus fare".

Now there are some people who are truly in dire straits due to mental illness. We need to bring back facilities that can help them (thank you Jimmy Cahtah for shutting down the mental hospitals). But most of the street people choose to live this way and that is something the loony left will never understand.

Posted by: Burdabee on December 13, 2006 11:35 AM
2. It's the Shelter of Dreams: "If you build it, they will come."

Posted by: TB on December 13, 2006 12:02 PM
3. When will the truth be realized?

There are people who want to be homeless.

There are people who cannot stay housed as they are continually kicked out and are chronically homeless.

There are people who are mentally ill and due to liberal "compassion" and "empowerment" are also chronically homeless.

Posted by: Jack Burton on December 13, 2006 12:05 PM
4. Another difference between left and right.

When someone on the left sees a problem like this, they scratch their head, and ultimately just throw more dollars at the problem, never fully understanding the underlying metaphysics and bad philosophy that creates bigger and more homeless shelters with plenty of handouts. Meanwhile, when someone on the right sees this problem, it's not that they just want to kick the homeless person out on the street and let them starve, it's that they want to figure out a solution that ultimately solves the larger problem of either encouraging the more self-reliant homeless person to move on from their homeless lifestyle and fend for themselves, or for the truly deranged, get them some sort of private help where they can be housed or given some minimal charity for survival, with the accountability, efficiency and compassion that can only come from the private use of funds.

It use to be that there were a lot of private and religious shelters to help just such folks, but the state has created a much more extensive program, even featuring new million dollar attractive housing for drunks, etc. that all encourage those who are not really in need, but who have little shame or personal motivation to become part of the bureaucracy.

That those on the left who write for the Stranger, can't figure this out is telling.

Posted by: Jeff B. on December 13, 2006 12:44 PM
5. I suspect the Starnger's point was that the number of homeless people is increasing despite increased spending on programs intended to help people stop being homeless. That doesn't mean the programs are failing (or bound to fail). They could be succeeding but at a slower rate than other forces are causing people to become homeless.

There are many reasons why people become and remain homeless. I have met many whom I consider very deserving of my, and my society's, help. It is disappointing to see some people focus only on a few (such as beggars) and thereby conclude that there is no homelessness problem worthy of their concern.

Posted by: Bruce on December 13, 2006 12:52 PM
6. As long as people are taught and "feel" that society "owes" them there will be some who will take advantage of a free ride.

When the young are taught that they have a duty to society, an obligation to contribute in return for the opportunities afford in an open and free society, then we will see a decrease in this problem.

As to those that are incapable of providing for themselves through addictions, mental or physical disabilities is it really "compassionate" to allow them to "choose" a lifestyle? Is it really a legitimate "choice" when it results in damage to society and the individual? I would contend in such cases the individual and society would benefit by the individual being removed from the street and released only when sober and rational, and in mental and physical cases when the individual has some level of self sufficiency.

Posted by: JCM on December 13, 2006 03:52 PM
7. This is my problem with food banks. The more food the give out, the higher the demand. And they absolutely refuse to ask if the person asking for free food actually can't afford to feed himself. They don't want to stigmatize the recipient.

Well, I say ask, and make sure they are truly needy. If this makes them feel a little self conscious, good. That means they might make an effort to get themselves out of the condition they are in. Unless they are mentally ill or physically incapable of working, they can be working. If they are addicts, I don't want my charity supporting their habit.

Posted by: janet s on December 13, 2006 04:58 PM
8. Janet S, have you visited a food bank? Did you get the impression that the clients weren't truly needy? Did they look happy to be there taking free food?

Posted by: Bruce on December 13, 2006 06:38 PM
9. Free food? Hot dog! Can't argue with free.

Posted by: Kevn on December 13, 2006 08:56 PM
10. Bruce - I don't know if they are needy or not. I'm saying that if the food bank wants my donation, they need to at least ask the question.

A few years ago the elementary school my daughter attended "adopted" a family at Christmas. They were told that the family chosen was on hard times, the dad was out of work, and they were having troubles making ends meet. When they got to the family's apartment, they saw nicer TV's and computers than the students' had at their own homes. Turns out Dad wanted a month off for Christmas, so he was voluntarily out of work. The students felt used. And they were.

I'm just saying, you put something out there for free, and you will get some unethical people coming out of the woodwork.

Posted by: janet s on December 13, 2006 09:22 PM
11. Bruce, I have worked in soup kitchens and food banks, and yes, there are people who are there to scam the system. Dave Ross went to Tent City to interview people, and it made for great radio. Of the five people he talked to, two of them were a young couple on vacation, treating the tent city like a youth hostel. The third guy owned 40 acres back home but was spending the summer in Seattle, eating all the free food that my fellow parishoners could bring him. The forth was a bohemian, taking life as it came. Finally, the last guy was down on his luck and truly in need. I know it wasn't a scientific poll, but it sure was fun to listen to Ross have his white liberal guilt mocked by these abusers of the system.

Posted by: Moondoggie on December 13, 2006 09:27 PM
12. Bruce,

Your first post was hilariously stupid. Good job. I'm surprised that after reading the article and posts you still don't get it. Rewarding homelessness does not deter homelessness.

Posted by: Shank on December 13, 2006 09:44 PM
13. Well I have a story not about homelessness but about Welfare in General. Back in the 60's CT had a court case to determine how long you to wait to get state welfare checks. At that time the State was proving one of the largest welfare checks per month. But you had to be in the state for 30 or 60 days before you would be allowed to receive the benefit. A judge deceided that you could receive it from the minute you stepped into the state. Well those on welfare from the southern states that paid hardly anything for welfare started to show up in large numbers in CT. The welfare rolls grew every year. As long as they could get more money they found friends and relatives to say they lived with them and started collecting CT Welfare checks. As one old timer said " That court decision may have tripled the number of people on welfare in two years." But the requests for welfare system was taxed and increased the annual costs to divert money from other programs to support the welfare system. The word got around that go to CT and you could nearly double your welfare check got around. There are those who follow the money and benefits. Whenever an increase takes place you will see a rise in people moving to get a cut.
If they can they would attempt to collect in several locations at once. NY City had a problem on welfare fraud. Criminals would visit the welfare office prior to starting Jail terms and they would receive Welfare checks that a friend would cash and give half of the money to them in prison(Rule you had to visit the welfare office once a year). Or those who collected welfare checks in three states. The real innovative professional welfare collectors. Sharing kids to claim them multiple times in three states. NY, CT and NJ. Several families claiming the same kids in all three states. Each family had a home in one of the states. A combination of increase benefits via numbers and no checks in each state to see if that they collected in neighboring states. NYC is unique because of three states within a few miles. This is human nature. Again this was in the 90's but the same is true today people do not change. There are those who will look for the most benefits and will move to get to them.

Posted by: David Anfinrud on December 14, 2006 06:25 AM
14. David, back in the mid to late 80s, our State had the same reputation. We got lots of transients.

Bruce, I liked your comments today, but you need to go a step further. How do you separate the needy from the lazies and freeloaders? You can't, so do you increase the benefit package to help the truly needy but also help the freeloaders? It is a conundrum and I don't know the answer.

And if you are a recently displaced or laid off worker with family, there are a ton of local churches and organizations that can help you. You just have to ask.

Posted by: swatter on December 14, 2006 07:18 AM
15. Swatter asks, How do you separate the needy from the lazies and freeloaders?

I'm not sure either. Part of the answer is to increase support for drug treatment, mental health, and job training programs; those help the needy and not freeloaders.

Posted by: Bruce on December 14, 2006 10:57 AM
16. Janet 7--food banks were one of my favorite charities--i'd rather feed someone than just give them money for nothing.

Favorite--until--I discovered that union strikers against a company i know hurling cuss words at my worker friends were being advised to go there for food. so, it added insult to injury.

i don't mind helping needy clientele like legal citizen seniors or legal citizen poor, but knowing that many pantries do not have a needs test, and that illegal aliens use them, i'm now VERY discouraged from giving.

anyone out there help change my mind?

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on December 14, 2006 11:07 AM
17. Bruce you ignorant Slut...

Seattle / Tacoma could end all homelessness here in one week. All we would have to do is STOP all forms aide to these deadbeats, druggies, psychos, malcontents, perverts and they would move on to some other Liberal pasture to graze off the taxpayers their.

Trust me on one Bruce I know...My brother in law is now in his 30th year as a student at Evergreen State College, Indian Rights Fighter, Save the Whales Activist, Tree Hugging, PETA friendly, Vegetarian Veteran of the WTO Wars, Free Tibet, Pro-Marijuana, freeloader, blood donor, and general user of the system. He is proud of the fact that in 35 years he has never had a job, had to buy groceries, pay rent, a phone bill, gets free transportation and has never had to pay for utilities. The problem is that he's not alone, he and his crowd of cause De' Jour only want this way of life.

As long as our government keeps giving him money for schooling and "retraining," and Evergreen State dose not run out of wacko classes that he can take, he will be set until retirement and social security. Do not laugh this is his plan and so far he is winning.

Posted by: Pacific Grove Phlash on December 14, 2006 12:00 PM
18. Howyouedoin

Yo Jimmie-howya- doin

Forgetaboutit

Posted by: Joey bag of doughnuts on December 14, 2006 12:05 PM
19. Howyouedoin

Yo Jimmie-howya- doin

Forgetaboutit

Posted by: Joey bag of doughnuts on December 14, 2006 12:05 PM
20. Got off the ferry Sunday night and we decided to wander over to Ivar's outside cafe for some chowder. There were three paying customers and an equal number of homeless soliciting the customers. The homeless were all seeking contributions to their own personal lifestyle maintenance programs. As we left we encountered two more solicitors rattling cups of change.

I can honestly state we saw more homeless solicitors along the waterfront than anyone else that night. Think we'll skip Ivar's in the future.

We'll go over to Shilshole for chowder in the future. There's a bit more concern for the public there. Sometimes cops issue citations for feeding the birds at Shilshole. The City claims it helps keep the vermin away.

Posted by: Tyler Durden on December 14, 2006 03:11 PM
21. I think the answer lies in doing better to separate the wheat from the chaff. This can only be accomplished through relationships, through actually knowing something about the person that is requesting help.

One of my sons and two of my daughters (adults) are engaged in ministry to the homeless through their church. This ministry has succeeded in assisting at least three families to get off the streets, simply by providing some love, time, grocery assistance and understanding.

Has their experience been perfect? No. There are an equal number of dedicated homeless; people who have no intention of changing their lifestyle to one that could reasonably be expected to provide the wherewithall to establish a home. But looking at their project from the other side, for every person that doesn't want change, they have had the privelege of assisting someone who does.

Three families seems like a very paltry number compared to the recent homeless census, but it is a start. I wish they all well.

Posted by: mark on December 14, 2006 08:41 PM
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