the nation who blindly support the homeless. maybe it's the headlines and articles that you see about the
homeless. maybe it's social media. but whatever it is,on the surface of it, this is an exciting time to
be fighting homelessness. it's thrilling. but not in a good way. the recent headlines and happenings in places
like san francisco, seattle, daytona, los angeles, phoenix and other cities indicate that homeless advocates
have gone rogue and are waging their own personal battle, right or wrong, against city governments. think about
it for a minute. the stakes are huge. the personal gain can be huge. the rise from obscurity to internet star
can be quick and lucrative. could you imagine this type of coverage concerning the homeless ten years ago?
it could be that hud, usich, naeh and other organizations have lost touch with the homeless and the advocates
who are on the front lines daily. it may be that they can no longer relate to those that they are suppose to serve. this could also be true for many of the local advocates. their duty to serve the homeless for the better good has been replaced by something less. but it could also be that local homeless agencies and organizations are asked to choose from programs that are deeply flawed from the beginning.
it's hard to argue at this point in time that there is indeed a war being fought for and against the homeless. the very soul of advocacy, homeless agencies and funding is at stake. the lives of the homeless raise those stakes to a price much too high to lose. the homeless have never really been described as smooth talking, telegenic, beautiful or someone who would be a candidate for the next facebook star of the year. yet they fill the headlines daily, are topics of countless meeting among city councils or mayoral meetings. they are buzz of the internet daily with different stories with different meanings. many of the advocates in different cities who suddenly find momentary stardom in the headlines are undeniably authentic. just as many are not. i wonder if this would be the case if it weren't for social media, fund raising sites and the potential dollars at stake both personally and professionally for many of these advocates.
;just as many advocates are sincere and truly care about the homeless and what happens to them today and in the future, just as many are not. despite their presented resume, professed experience and supposed education, many are just inauthentic and self serving. their actions neither inspire or appeal. their words do not raise the general public to action except for a brief time when they garner attention on twitter, facebook or other social media platforms. they always seem to be triangulating, calculating and searching for something to bring about a confrontation with city officials. they seem to be looking for that fifteen minutes in the spotlight of the homeless advocacy world. let's face it, the majority of any city's population do not want to deal with or be confronted by the homeless and the many problems that come with them. and at any moment in time, that population could easily turn on the homeless, the advocacy system and those that support the homeless. one incident, one major happening or bad occurrence could wipe away years of advocacy work.
our one great hope over the last few years has been free housing with no strings attached. according to many homeless advocates and agencies this was the program of all programs. it was a no-brainer, according to their math and calculations, that we should give all the homeless free housing and worry about everything else later. the programs had the appearance, the appeal and the potential <again according to its supporters> to win over not only the federal government and their unreliable funding, but the public in general. it was inspiring to see homeless people receive a home for free, removing them from the streets and remain in that home....for years.
the program was so new, so innovative, so successful that it had to succeed. but it was a risky venture at best. it was short sighted, not well thought out and based on theory and not hard facts or more important, hard money.
it still has a pulse and could be revamped and actually be a successful program. but in order for that to happen, something that none of the supporters would accept would have to happen. the free housing with no strings would have to become free housing with strings attached, you'd have to implement an exit strategy. you'd have to address addictions and alcoholism, mental health issues or other things that caused your homelessness. you'd have to put employment into the formula and that seems to be something that the supporters of free housing just seem to want to overlook or refuse to acknowledge. the one thing that has reduced homelessness, an improving economy with more jobs is being ignored in all programs.
the homeless advocacy system has revealed it's weaknesses and flaws in recent months. with a much improved economy, more job opportunities and an overall better outlook for finding work and fighting your way out of homelessness, comes also the glaring mistakes and errors of our advocacy system. excuses and the blame game are wearing thin and no longer hold credibility. we can no longer spin homelessness as something that the homeless are not responsible for. we can no longer blame anyone except ourselves. we have to take pause, reorganize, admit our mistakes and move forward collectively as a group if we are to do justice to our effort to assist the homeless. more than money is at stake. more than fame is at stake, the lives of the many homeless men,women and children are on the table. while we should take a large role in the effort to save those lives, we cannot do it without putting some of the responsibility directly where it should be....with the homeless. we must make them a major stakeholder in the effort and no longer allow a welfare state of mind to envelope them. we must demand some things from them just as we demand some things from our politicians and local governments. it cannot and should not be a take all but give nothing situation. a welfare condition does not succeed in the long term, it just gives birth to a new generation of welfare.
so many programs, so many flaws. so many mistakes. so many lives at risk. we should begin today to inspire a new beginning to our system and our efforts toward ending homelessness. what we've been doing has not worked. isn't that the definition of insanity, doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. let's not take the insane approach. let's take the reasonable, common sense and proven approach in the coming year in our fight against homelessness.
see you around town