to the federal government, you have been wrong. your programs are too disconnected, redundant, outdated and bloated to serve the homeless. you strayed from you original agenda so much that safety net programs are now cost ineffective and don't serve the homeless and poor well. the net dollars that reach the homeless and poor are so out of proportion with the total cost of safety net programs that it might be time to dismantle and overhaul the entire delivery system. you should do what you do best and continue to spend money, but direct it to state and local levels where the results are more substantial. you should begin once again to become representatives of the people you serve instead of strictly a political organization that adheres to party platforms despite the effect on the people who elected you. you should read your oath of office instead of just repeating it and take to heart its meaning and the what the principles behind the elected position truly represent. you should treat this country the way many of us think about it...like you live here, like you love it and like it is our country....not yours....but ours. that includes the homeless and the poor.
to the homeless agencies across America. you have failed for decades to make any progress on homelessness. you continue to collect data, make studies and formulate ten year plans. none of them are different than the previous ones so grandly rolled out and so loudly proclaimed to be the answer to homelessness and hunger. you have now exhausted your ideas on how to deal with the homeless to the point where you are recycling programs that have been used in the past. you need to stop collecting data and put your efforts into reaching out to the homeless and finding them homes. you need to step out of your office and into the streets and meet, speak with and become personally familiar with the ones that you are employed to help. you need to witness firsthand the homeless in their own environment, not your office or in a protracted study from the confines of the building you are employed in. you need to reinvent yourself into an action oriented organization instead of a planning and study organization and begin to think for yourselves instead of blindly following the lead from Washington. you need to focus on the homeless and how you can best serve them instead of focusing on your budget for the following year and how you can enhance it. while you study and plan, the homeless continue to struggle in missions and shelters or on the street. men and women continue to die while sleeping and living outside. children continue to experience homelessness, hunger and the painful, emotional scars that come with it.
to the local political and civic leaders of the cities and communities. you need to come together and put politics and socially sensitive conversations aside. you need to stop focusing on revitalization, budgets and meetings. you need to bring your vision for your city into the laser focus of one that no longer has people being homeless. you need to see that vision as one that didn't extricate the homeless but rather one that assisted the homeless in finding houses, apartments, employment and a new beginning in a life that somehow strayed down the wrong, dark path. you need to see your city as truly the first one that was able to correctly identify and rightfully claim that you did indeed end homelessness and that you did it in a compassionate, straight forward, economical way. it's time to stop ignoring the problem or pushing it off as a state or federal issue to be dealt with. it is your city, the one that you are responsible for, the one you were elected to lead. the homeless are residents of that city and you owe them the same concentrated effort to find housing and employment as the effort you put forth to revitalize your city in general. it's time for you to lead....not just the business district or politically valuable areas of your city....but your entire city.
to the homeless it's time to lift your head up. it's time for you also to stop making and using excuses. you need to no longer accept the fact that being homeless is an unrepairable part of your life. you need to stop living like and acting like someone who is homeless. there are enough resources and enough available locations where you can receive assistance that you do not have to walk, speak, eat and live like you're homeless. you need to brush your inner self off, clean yourself up and regain your own pride and your dignity. noone and nothing, not even homelessness can take your own dignity from you unless you allow it. if you are addicted to drugs or alcohol you need to seek treatment and rid yourself of these terrible things that are destroying your life and cutting your years short. it is your responsibility to care for yourself.....it is not the responsibility of someone else to care for you. you need to utilize the missions, shelters and drop in centers and regain some sense of normalcy and routine until you can find the life you seek. you need to become aware of and utilize agencies and organizations that were created for you....the homeless....and begin to find that road to housing. consider it only a temporary stop until you can regain employment and self reliance, but find that temporary place to regroup and reshape yourself. you need to fully realize and accept where you are and decide that you no longer want to be there. it is your life....stop living it as a homeless person....stop making excuses....start living again.
for the outreach workers....do what the title entails. go out...every day...find the homeless....don't condescend to them....speak to them as individuals. identify who and where they are. identify the ones with mental issues. stop hiding behind the faulty logic that identifying and communicating with the homeless is difficult. stop using the....homelessness is a multilayered issue excuse. get out of the office and into the streets, into the missions, into the shelters, into the campsites, into the parks, into the places where the homeless exist daily. find them, speak with them, make them aware there is a way out and it's not so difficult that they can't find that way. get the mentally ill treatment and off the streets. I don't care if it takes you months and multiple encounters. I don't care what it takes....get them off the streets and into housing and treatment before you have more people like Kelly Thomas, the man in new mexico who was shot while camping or the man who died from heat in new York. make that effort.....do what It takes.....do whatever it takes. if you're going to sit in the office three days out of five...take the outreach shirt off and put on an agency shirt.
to the missions....keep doing what you're doing. you are the backbone that keeps the homeless going for now. you are the respite from a trying, exhausting period in the life of a homeless person. you are the one lifeline that is effective. for those of you that aren't doing it......keep your facility clean, safe and in order. do not be willing to accept that it's a place for the homeless and it doesn't matter.....it does. keep your building as clean and safe as you possibly can....yes...you are dealing with the homeless....but yes....you are dealing with people and it is your job.
for the citizens of this and all communities...wake up. homelessness is not acceptable and it is not unavoidable. do not accept the homeless as an unpreventable part of living in your community. do not look away any longer. take pause and see these people and see the fact that they can and should be helped. regardless of the program chosen or the route taken, housing them is a simple matter of willingness to do so. no longer accept excuses, reasons and shallow statements about the homeless and why finding them housing, recovery and employment is so difficult. demand that the issues of homelessness and hunger not be a part of your city and community. demand that the leaders of your city address and solve these issues. demand that the homeless be given as much attention and effort as any other civic or social justice issue that politicians like to stand behind. but demand more....demand they come from behind them into the forefront and make some real progress on these issues. demand that they continue that effort until homelessness and hunger no longer exist in your city. don't worry about other cities.....just your own. stop reasoning away, justifying or blaming.....and begin to end it. do not let your children inherit this problem that can be solved by our own generation.
do not speak in that quiet voice of desperation or frustration. do not stand in the shadows or look away and remain silent. speak loudly and in the light. speak soundly and directly. speak....do not be silent. we've been complacent and silent long enough.
see you around town