see you around town
i added a poll to the twitter, facebook forums and chat section today. i will be randomly taking a poll with a question about homelessness or poverty so i can get a better feel for how everyone feels or thinks about various topics. i won't be doing it daily but randomly over a period of time. today's question is...do you think free housing is a viable solution to ending homelessness. it's a simple yes...no...or not sure answer question today. and for all you hillary fans there is no....what difference does it make option.
see you around town
wilmington delaware...it's a beautiful old city. the buildings and architecture of the downtown area are a priceless beauty in today's world of modern buildings and popup apartments. the neighborhoods surrounding the business district carry a rich history and if you stop and look you can see that they were once an example of american inner city living. the buildings are designed well, the streets are tree covered and the sidewalks are wide where children once played and neighbors passed each other on morning or evening walks and stopped to talk about events in their city or just neighborly conversation. the businesses that still exist on the fringes of the new business district are rich with history, community ties and all the long past principles of customer service and awareness that once filled most of america. today wilmington has alot of positive things happening and upward trends thanks to the vision and planning of officials of the city. there is an effort to create the wilmington that it could always have been. there is a vision to make wilmington the centerpiece city nestled between philadelphia, new york, washington dc and atlantic city. rodney square has been expanded and cleaned up. it is now a safe, clean place to walk, sit, have lunch or catch a bus. sitting in the business district is the grandmother of hotels, the dupont. there is the grand, the matron of theaters and performances in the city. we have parks and recreation areas where families can gather for weekend picnics or other family and friends gatherings. from tubman-garret park to the riverfront area wilmington has utilized it's riverfront presence to make the entire christina river a a vibrant and pleasant area to live, work or enjoy many of the resteraunts lining the boardwalk along the river. we have annual music festivals from the bob marley tribute to the clarence brown jazz festival. the farmers market bustles in rodney square. we have one of the most efficient and affordable transit systems in the nation. the train station is clean, modern and safe. the trains offer excellent transportation to various destinations daily and are also affordable and efficient. we have a good fire and police dept that serves our city well under difficult circumstances. we have respected and well known universities such as the university of delaware, deltech and the delaware academy of arts and design. the brandywine river and park is a nice area to jog, walk or visit the zoo. we also have the beginnings and roots of new businesses beginning and existing ones expanding. chase bank and dupont are an ever present factor in the economic growth and well being of the city. we have a resource often overlooked and that's the people themselves. they are are a diverse and well rounded population filled with the things you look for in a population of a city. there is the new agenda to bring residents back to wilmington thru new apartment construction, home building and office renovations. when you walk market street during business hours you can see and feel the new attitude and potential the city has at this point in time. we have a mayor and a city council with a vision for the city and although their methods and views are different at times, the priority and goal is the same. make wilmington what it could always have been....a grand city filled with economic growth and opportunity and a place you want to live, work and have a family in.
then the sun goes down and you have the other wilmington come alive. the one where residents close their doors, pull their shades and hope the night passes without another shooting in their neighborhood. the drug dealers slowly make their way to the corners and areas where they ply their trade. the young men...too young....start roaming the street carrying guns waiting to be the next headline. young men, too young but old enough to know, walk the streets that they view as their own, waiting for the next victim to rob, assault or murder. the cars you don't see during the daylight hours arrive with the drugs or other illegal items to drop off or deliver. people walking the streets to home take on another demeanor as they warily look over their shoulder or dart their eyes back and forth ahead of them looking and hoping for a safe passage to their residences. businesses close early in wilmington. alot of them close because it's just not safe to be open late at night without being robbed or worse. people in those same neighborhoods that walk the street in the daylight hours take refuge in their homes for fear of being stabbed, shot or robbed. if your child is late arriving home you become anxious for their safety. every nite you can hear gunshots somewhere in the city. alot of those nites, too many, are followed by the news the next day of another murder, another life cut short and another family in grief. the mayor is trying, the police dept. is trying, the city council is looking for answers..answers that everyone awaits so they no longer feel held hostage in their own city, in their own neighborhood, in their own home. the people that won't come to wilmington after the sun goes down also wait....they wait for the city to solve the crime rate and find an answer to the gun violence so they too can once again enjoy the grand old city by the river. new business prospects also wait so they can invest their dollars in this city and the entire economy of the city can grow and expand. those answers will eventually come, but there is a limit on the time everyone is willing to wait.
then there's the final city of wilmington. that's the city of the homeless and poor. they are caught somewhere in the middle of the previous two. there are 35 thousand children in the state of delaware that are living below the poverty line. many of them are here in the city of wilmington. there are 6 thousand homeless people in the state of delaware. many of them again are here in the city of wilmington. unemployment is high and the job growth has been slow. food pantries are stretched, the sunday breakfast mission continues to see the number of people utilizing their services grow and increase from the previous year. drug rehabs are at capacity, both for treatment and to have a place to live. the poor struggle daily to survive, waiting for the city they live in to offer a way out thru employment and financial opportunity. the homeless walk the street daily waiting for the path to employment and housing and a new life to open up so they can end their ordeal and struggle and return to a satisfying and productive life. they all wait....they all struggle....daily....all year long. they want a revitalized city also. they too look and wait for answers that don't come. they, more than anyone, see all sides of the city and are most effected by all three sides and the byproducts of them. they, more than anyone are exposed to the good, the bad, the safe and the most dangerous parts of the city. they wait. they hope. they watch.
hopefully in the not too distant future there will be only one wilmington. one that is safe for all its residents ...all the time...nite or day. hopefully we who wait will reap the benefit of the city we all know wilmington could be. hopefully it will be sooner rather than later. because for some...too many....that later doesn't arrive.
see you around town
with social media we are made aware of everything. probably more than most of us want to be aware of. we are made instantly aware of news and happenings all over the world and with that various opinions about those events. from twitter to facebook to thousands of blogs we get opinions from all facets of america. we are made aware of social ills and the fate of those living in poverty and homelessness. often, in an effort to make the poor and homeless seem like normal people who bad things have happened to, we see stories, photo shoots and videos about them. we read how the homeless are often engineers, teachers, managers, musicians or other upper employment class individuals who have fallen on hard times for whatever reason. don't get me wrong, this is the case sometimes. but this "normalization" of poverty and the homeless may be having an unexpected and undesirable effect. we may becoming dangerously close to numbing ourselves to the homeless and those living in poverty and the reasons that has happened to these individuals in the first place.
poverty is not pretty. i've never been around a family struggling for food that was dancing in joy because of their difficult circumstance. homelessness is not romantic. i've never met a homeless person that said they were happy to be homeless and that it was an incredible adventure. poverty is hard. homelessness is difficult. both can be crippling mentally, physically and emotionally.
government assistance came into being under then president lyndon johnson. it was created to assist the poor and the homeless under the most dire of circumstances throughout the united states. receiving money from the government does help if you are in extreme poverty or you're homeless. it alleviates the struggle somewhat and does give you a lifeline to survive. living on welfare or other government handouts for months and in alot of cases years, is a bottom rung existence for the poor and should be a very low statement about our country. barely existing is an understatement when you are dependent on a branch of the government for your daily existence. our country is heavily in debt. we can barely continue to pay our bills and have been doing so only by going farther in debt. help to the poor and the homeless cannot continue to increase. with elections coming in november and the trend in political america turning to austerity and budget balancing, as usual, the poor and the homeless will be caught in the crossfire of budget cuts and defunded programs. after november elections and the political dust settles, the conservatives are probably going to have gained ground in both the senate and the congress. even if the balance is not shifted, the gravitational pull is going to be toward cutting spending on social programs and safety nets by both democrats and republicans. we have put ourselves into the position of not being able to prevent this.
now, before this austerity begins to make its ugly presence known on twitter, facebook and other social media and all the examples of welfare fraud, wasted money and government entitlements begin to rear their head, it might be prudent to begin an honest reexamination of the poor and the homeless in particular. in an effort to rehumanize the homeless and the poor we often fail to use honesty as a point of judgement. poverty and homelessness are tragic no doubt. but it's not some dark evil force that was waiting in the shadows to envelope the first innocent victim that happened by. and once you're in poverty or once you're homeless, there is no stone tied to your leg to prevent you from raising yourself out of either. this is where i part paths with most of the homeless advocates and walk a different one. this is where i step off the free housing and free food with no strings attached forever proponents and take a different stance.
you are responsible for yourself. homeless or not. you are responsible for your own financial upward mobility. poor or not...living in poverty or not. it is not, nor should it be the governments responsibility to lift you out of anything. employed or not...it is not the governments responsibility to support you for an extended period of time while you find the job you want. the governments responsibility is to provide opportunities for everyone equally and ensure that you have a short term relief when you do fall on hard times. it should end there. anything beyond that is and should be your own responsibility.
changing your life means making responsible and often big decisions about yourself. moving upward out of poverty is possible for every american, whether you are black, white, hispanic or asian. lifting yourself out of homelessness is possible for even the most chronically homeless individuals. you can find a job, even in todays america. it may not be the job you are accustomed to. it may not be the wage scale you feel you are worth. it may even require working two jobs until things become more stable for you. but it is possible and even very probable if you look, in earnest, and with no preconceived expectations of what you will except to generate income. yes, said simply, if that means working at two fast food places in order to survive temporarily....then so be it. remaining in the situation you are in and expecting the federal government to support you until your dream ship comes in is not only no longer feasible but it's a foolish dream. it's time for all the homeless and all those living in poverty to wake up and realize that government support it not the answer and it is not a way out of the situation you are in. it is a way only to remain in your poverty and remain in your homelessness. only you can create true progress toward a better life and only you can lift yourself out of the situation you're in.
this doesn't mean that you shouldn't take or utilize government assitance or help when you need it. it simply means that becoming dependent on that assistance over a long period of time is not only self defeating to your dream of becoming better, it stagnates you and makes you become dulled to the fact that you are at rock bottom and need to move upward and forward. the american dream is more difficult to achieve in todays world no doubt. but you can never achieve it waiting for the government to give it to you. only those employed by government agencies designed to help the poor and the homeless would have you or let you believe otherwise.
we...all of us...need to stop believing the government will or can rescue us. it can't. we...all of us...need to stop excusing bad choices, poor behavior and the willingness to exist on government assistance. only the elderly or the disabled should be allowed that luxury. we...all of us...need to stop excusing away all the reasons and causes of poverty and homelessness and begin instead to focus on employment, building strong neighborhoods and cities and revitalizing this country to the point of its once very proud and very strong sense of being. we are this country. we are the government. we need to begin to accept that responsibility. more than anything, we need to accept the responsibility for ourselves.
see you around town
i am no longer homeless. a few weeks ago i moved into a small studio apartment. it's not where i want to be in five years...but for now it's home. i'm going thru my own personal transition period, decompressing from the entire homeless situation i was in. i think maybe a period of relief would better describe it. i'm also going thru a period of time where i'm setting my priorities and deciding what direction, if any, i want to take in the advocacy area. i'm sorting out all my options and directions that are in front of me and sorting out the best, most effective ways i could be of some help in fighting poverty, hunger and homelessness. there's something else i'm trying to move away from and sort thru also. it's more difficult to transition away from than being homeless. i'm having a very difficult time with something so simplistic that i shouldn't even be thinking about it or having second thoughts about. it's called the truth....the truth about the homeless and homelessness. some of this i have written before and some i haven't. but it capsulizes how i feel today about the homeless, agencies and the advocates.
If you think you have a solution to homelessness....you don't. if you think you're instituting a program that will work for the homeless or end homelessness...you're not. if you think housing first or free housing with no strings attached will solve alot of the homeless issues...you're wasting tax payer money. you're wasting resources that could be used more effectively in another type of program. if you think welfare is helping....it isn't. not long term welfare anyway....it's enabling homelessness. missions and shelters should be temporary. anything else is taking up space that could be used for more temporarily homeless people and women and children that are encountering financial difficulties or homelessness for the first time. if you think the government should fund affordable housing on a long term basis for the homeless....they shouldn't. it's contributing to the debt and is actually encouraging alot of people to be homeless. you think anything other than job training, addiction treatment and a return to the workforce will help the issue....it won't. the money they spend for welfare and snap benefits should be poured into job creation and training. it should poured into addiction treatment and outreach for the mentally ill that walk the streets on a daily basis. if that were successful, homelessness would be cut by 70% or so. look....homelessness has always been around. unfortunately it always will be to some extent. only a small percentage of homeless people are truly disabled or unable to work. yes...the economy is bad. yes...it's tough to be homeless. yes....there are issues that are beyond a person's control that causes homelessness. but long term homelessness....it's the individuals fault in most cases and they could and should start to address the problems that caused it. i'm not saying it's an easy or short term fix. but the route we're taking and the way we address the homeless people themselves just isn't working. it hasn't worked for forty years and it's not going to miraculously start working today. you have to accept the fact that most homeless people have an issue that needs to be corrected in order for them to help themselves. that's where the money should be spent. either for job creation, training or addiction treatment...not for enabling. then the money could be spent on those with the truly debilitating issues that causes them to be homeless..like mental illness or physical disabilities. then you could spend money on women and children and get them housing and reintroduced into normal society. raising awareness isn't enough. i can do that by standing on a corner with a sign. meetings aren't enough. we have enough of those. websites and tweets aren't good enough. that's just another form of talk. charts, facts, figures, and demographics are good for research....not for solving. advocacy is ok....but it has to go way beyond being an advocate.
job creation...training...temporary assistance and aid...and no enabling. that's the answer. i know it's a fine line to balance, but we have to find a way to navigate it. i think they're waiting for it. i think you are too. i have experienced homelessness and all the ugly, difficult and hard times and lessons that come with it. i have lived with and around the homeless. i'm telling you things that i believe because of experiences and a first hand look into the lives and daily struggles of the homeless. i have listened to and spoken with the homeless daily. being homeless....i saw and still see a side of the homeless that advocates and agencies couldn't see. i came out of homelessness.
i'm an advocate of the homeless and i feel nothing but compassion and an honest willingness and sense of obligation to help them. while i do think we should expend every effort to assist and aid the homeless, i'm not delusional or blind. i can't blindly follow programs and efforts that i feel can't and won't solve the problem on a long term basis. i can't look past the hard truths.
see you around town