Monthly Archives: July 2012

1175 Lee Hill Community Engagement Survey

By Max R. Weller

Please respond to it ASAP by clicking here.

Far be it from me to try to influence anyone (ahem!), but consider the experience of Anchorage, AK with their Housing First project which opened last December.

Profile of Housing First client — chronically homeless, single adult alcoholic/drug addict with a dual diagnosis of mental illness. There will be NO requirement that HF clients get clean and sober to be accepted into the program and allowed to reside at 1175 Lee Hill. In fact, they will be allowed to possess and consume alcohol in their apartments.

And don’t fall for the Big Lie being pushed by Housing First proponents: it saves the taxpayers money. They arrive at that conclusion using what I call funny math, in which they fail to factor in the total costs involved in such a program. At 1175 Lee Hill these will include:

1) $800,000+ to purchase the property;

2) $6 million plus to build the proposed 31 units for HF clients;

3) Ongoing costs of staffing the facility with case managers and others;

4) Ongoing costs of all of the government benefits of every kind received by HF clients;

5) Continuing outpatient medical treatment for conditions related to substance abuse;

6) More hospitalizations in some cases for the same reason;

7) Continuing costs of mental health and substance abuse counseling;

8) More costs of incarceration for some HF clients;

9) Loss of productivity from HF clients who will become permanent dependents on the social services industry;

10) Permanent loss of property tax revenues from the 1175 Lee Hill property, now owned by Boulder Housing Partners.

The list goes on . . .

So what if there might be fewer ambulance rides to the emergency room for acute alcohol poisoning? So what if there might be fewer arrests for various petty crimes? Any potential savings to taxpayers is only a drop in the bucket compared to the costs outlined above, all of which are a certainty. 

And what of the negative impact of concentrating all of these homeless shelter/services facilities in one neighborhood? The HF facility will be located right next door to Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, across the street from Boulder Housing Partners, and one block away from the shelter for victims of domestic violence. Just yesterday afternoon, another drunken bum was passed out on the sidewalk in front of the newly-opened Mexican restaurant in the 4900 block of N. Broadway; residents of Dakota Ridge (including kids) walking to and from their homes had to step over him. Neither Betsey Martens nor Greg Harms — executive directors of Boulder Housing Partners and Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, respectively — seem to give a darn about the bums trashing the neighborhood. It’s been getting worse and worse over the course of the past year, and I’ve watched it on a daily basis. Never once have I seen anyone from either BHP or BSH come out to see for themselves.

Bottom line: it’s a Wet House. It has no place in a residential neighborhood, home to many families with children.

Section 8 leaves a lot to be desired

By Max R. Weller

See today’s Daily Camera article. Robert Wicks, despite his own minor problems with misdemeanor arrests and poor credit, is almost a sterling character compared to many others who get into subsidized housing of all kinds, including Section 8. Unfortunately, Mr. Wicks is suffering for the wrongdoing of the bad actors. Comment following the story —

We have twice softened our hearts and rented to Section 8 tenants. Both times the house was left totally trashed . . .
 
My late friend, a well-known homeless man here in Boulder who famously sang and played the guitar on the corner of N. Broadway & U.S. 36 for many years, had a Section 8 voucher. By his own account, he was evicted numerous times for partying at all hours of the day and night with homeless acquaintances. He never learned his lesson, and at the time of his death from alcohol combined with heroin, he was looking for yet another gullible landlord. With his gift of gab and outgoing personality, I’ve no doubt he would have found one. Of course, the idjits who work in the shelter/services industry are quick to refer to the “formerly homeless” who obtain housing and point to them as successes. Many Section 8 (and other subsidized housing program) clients like my friend are “formerly housed” over and over, due to repeated evictions; does this mean they’re successful over and over, when they continue to find landlords willing to assume the risk?
 
I mean this in a kind way when I say that Mr. Wicks ought to move on from Boulder, CO. He’s bound to have better luck elsewhere, in a city where landlords aren’t being screwed as often by Section 8 tenants. In the meantime, Robert, be thankful that you enjoy the shelter of a van; it offers a degree of security and privacy not to be found in any god-awful homeless warehouse.

Occupy’s Grandpa Tom: more apologizing/enabling for the homeless

By Max R. Weller

His comment following this Daily Camera article is copied below —

Reading these positive and negative comments is like listening to the U.S. House of Representatives on C-SPAN. You’ve got the “nice, yet solution-less” comments coming from the Left, and the “ugly, mean-spirited” comments coming from the Right, and nothing gets done. Some of you talk about the homeless as if they were less than human. These are “real” people we are talking about, people who have met with various misfortunes, which could have happened to any of us. Last year, we had 19 homeless people die on the streets of Boulder. One of them was a ten-day old baby who died of a staph infection after a visit to the local ER on day three of his very short life. I became friends with this baby’s young parents, even let them live with me for a couple of months in my one-bedroom apartment, until my neighbors complained, and I was threatened with eviction. Through this young couple I met other homeless people, and they each have their own unique story, but there is one common thread. Once you lose your job and your home, unless you have a supportive family, or friends, it’s extremely difficult to get back on your feet again, and with the economy the way it is today, multiply that degree of difficulty by ten. Do some of these people turn to drink and drugs? Of course they do. How could they not, when they don’t know where there next meal is coming from, and they are getting abused by the police all the time, and the majority of the good people of Boulder won’t even look them in the eye? Just look at your own families, friends and neighbors, people who have a safe and warm place to sleep every night. Any drinking or drugging going on with them? The people of the Har Hashem synagogue were doing a good thing, and yet one selfish neighbor with the help of our esteemed city government was able to block the good work being done.
 
You want a solution to this problem? Help me to get the City Council to turn the old Armory on Table Mesa into an “alternative” homeless shelter. That land and the existing buildings would be a perfect location to house homeless people, but not just provide them with a place to sleep, but a place to work and learn new skills, and have a garden where they could grow their own food. With some funding from the city, a lot less than what the shelter in North Boulder costs, in two short years this new shelter could become self-sustaining, and a place for everyone to be proud of. Who is going to manage this place? I will, and I’ll do it without any compensation. I’ll live there with the homeless 24/7. I know, who the hell do I think I am that I can accomplish this task. Well, I’m a 65 y/o retired single man, who used to be a Vice President with Merrill Lynch. With luck, I figure I’ve got ten good years left in which to accomplish something worthwhile for my fellow human beings. If you would like to know more about this plan, please send me an email, tcummins7@gmail.com, and I’ll send you an outline. I would welcome any constructive criticism, ideas, and offers of help. Oh, in memory of that homeless baby, I would like to call the shelter Little Chris’ Place.
 
Thank you.
 
Tom Cummins
Boulder, CO
 
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Seldom have I read a more uninformed, melodramatic, and grandiose comment by anyone here in Boulder, CO. Remarkable, because many in this city really have no clue about what to do with homeless people, except more of the same failed policies of warehousing them and starting more “programs” to transition them back into the mainstream of society. It’s nothing but a revolving door for the homeless people who get involved. Still, your comment is the ne plus ultra of ignorance.
 
Yes, Tom, 19 homeless people died on the streets here last year. This reflects their lowered life expectancy due to several factors, including long-term substance abuse. Emergency shelter is available on the coldest nights during wintertime, thanks to Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow and its partners in the faith community. Inpatient treatment for substance abuse can be difficult to obtain, but Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are readily available and free to everyone. In addition, our fair city has more resources of all kinds for the benefit of the poor and homeless than any other city in America — and I’m not going out on a limb in making that claim.
 
Let’s deal with the death of the infant which you cite in your comment, Tom. Enough time for grieving has passed now, that I think it’s reasonable to ask for some accountability. I followed the newspaper accounts in this case, and I was as saddened by the baby’s death as you, but there are unanswered questions: 1) Did the mother seek appropriate prenatal care from the moment she discovered her pregnancy (available at People’s Clinic here in Boulder for free or at greatly-reduced fees)? 2) Why did the birth take place in someone’s home, attended by a so-called midwife who may or may not have had adequate training? 3) Were unsanitary conditions there, specifically the failure to disinfect the umbilical cord after it was cut, bring about the staph infection which proved to be fatal? 4) What, if anything, will this couple do differently if there is another pregnancy? Yes, Tom, it’s great that you offered them a brief respite in your one-bedroom apartment; likewise, I’ve enjoyed the hospitality of my friends in Longmont on occasion. I’m very grateful to them, but I can’t imagine that they would ever brag online about their good deeds, as you have several times.
 
Your comment goes on with more of the same old negative stereotypes of homeless people drinking and drugging, which you try to excuse, along with the delusions of persecution so many of them believe fervently: “. . . getting abused by the police all the time, and the majority of the good people of Boulder won’t even look them in the eye . . .” Bull****! I’ve lived here continuously since February of 2008, have never been ticketed for illegal camping or any other petty offense typically committed by the worst-behaved 20% of the homeless, and I count many friends and acquaintances among the citizens of Boulder. As for Congregation Har Hashem, all they had to do is to allow the 15 homeless people they chose to sleep INDOORS at their facility — perfectly legal — but apparently they didn’t want to trust their guests to behave decently without supervision, and so they locked them out (at least they provided a portable toilet).
 
To the rest of your comment, in which you seem to suggest that you could serve as a self-appointed savior of the homeless by opening your own human warehouse for them (using a lot of other people’s money, naturally): it’s a duplication of shelter/services already offered, would only serve to attract more transients from Denver and elsewhere to come here and crash at Grandpa Tom’s Place (let’s allow the baby to rest in peace, shall we?), and would soon be an utter blight with all sorts of homeless-on-homeless crime, drug use/sales on premises, drunken panhandlers spilling out into the neighborhood (just as we see now with Boulder Shelter for the Homeless), etc. It’s the very last thing that the 80% of homeless people who behave decently need. That’s why I continually counsel the 80% to avoid becoming enslaved by the homeless shelter/services industry; they’re better off by far on their own.
 
Get over yourself, Grandpa Tom.
 

Like flies to a cowpie

By Max R. Weller

The worst-behaved homeless people flock to Boulder, CO.

Just this morning, shortly before 5AM, I arrived at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless from my nearby campsite. I enjoy spending an hour or so in quiet reflection, listening to the birds and watching the approaching dawn, deeply breathing in the fresh air. Preferably alone, except for my friend Christina, who lives in her car while working and attending school. She wasn’t there this morning, which was just as well, because the “Sexually Violent Predator” Kerry Whitfield was sitting on the low wall next to the SKIP bus stop. Apparently, he’d been roaming in the neighborhood all night after taking one of the last SKIPs up to BSH before midnight. The ignorant POS asked me what time it was. I told him. Then he asked me if I had a lighter. I told him I don’t smoke. That was the extent of our conversation.

BTW, I’m fairly certain that Christina could take care of herself, having received some self-defense training, and being able to easily run away from the 300-pound Mr. Whitfield. The thing is, she’s very petite and almost childlike in appearance despite being in her 40s and having grown kids. Just the sort of woman who would appeal to a predator like Whitfield, who was convicted of trying to diddle a 12-year-old female relative in Denver. And then, to make matters worse, Whitfield was evaluated and found to be at high risk of reoffending — thus the label of Sexually Violent Predator. No doubt, he’s among the worst of the sociopathic bums coming here to Boulder to take advantage of the misplaced compassion offered by many, many public and private agencies. But he’s hardly alone; indeed, it’s a rare morning when my meditations are undisturbed by drunks, dope fiends, heavy smokers, and stupid loudmouths reciting the latest paranoid conspiracy theories. All of them can be found at BSH and every other homeless shelter/services venue in our fair city. (This is precisely the reason I only patronize BSH for a shower every morning, and will never be seen at any other place catering to the homeless).

Why do I resent these characters? For the same reason that the rest of the well-behaved 80% of homeless people do: they reinforce all of the negative stereotypes and are high profile, making us ALL look bad to members of the public who don’t realize that the bad actors are no more than 20% of the homeless population (my estimate). That would be about 150 out of the 750 homeless people in Boulder according to the 2012 Point-in-Time Report city stats. Granted, 150 bums can wreak a lot of havoc, and they do. In our public libraries, city parks, along Boulder Creek Path, on Pearl Street Mall, in the University Hill district, etc.

I have a suggestion, which would be very cost-effective: send the 150 or so homeless bad actors back to Denver on any of the RTD buses leaving Boulder every day of the week. At $5 per head, that’s only $750! It would save untold thousands of $$$ in law enforcement expenses alone. And, the bums might even be treated to a turkey dinner at “Jesus Saves” once they arrive home in Denver. It’s as much as they deserve.

The Homeless Philosopher is not without compassion.

Max’s Journal 7/28/2012

By Max R. Weller

I received a comment on my post about my experience in an Ozarks cult from the Big Cheese himself. I’m reprinting the text of his comment here (which I received by e-mail notice), but won’t be approving its attachment to that post —

ReverendRick commented on My brief time in an Ozarks evangelical cult, part 1 – conclusionMax Weller on homelessness:

Mission Gate Prison Ministry is for Evangelical Christians only. This is our religous right to have a ministry of our faith. LDS conflict with what we believe and it is not in the interests of our residents to have those of other faiths conficted with our teaching.

Also, I evangelize our men to lead and be upstanding christians in their community. I don’t collect them as a cult would. I am an ordained Independent Baptist Reformed Calvinist Minister and I teach the Word the best I can interpret it.

Those that know the rules coming in, such as this gentleman, and break them anyway should not have been in our program in the first place. This is deception on his part and correction on mine.

Rick Mathes
Founder and Executive Officer
Go to: www.MissionGateMinistry.org for the truth!

Email: missiongateministry@msn.com
IP address: 67.142.166.26

Of course, I stand by my version of events.

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From today’s Daily Camera is this story. Quoting from it here: Fifer said Har Hashem housed 1,100 people this past winter, and, from that group, a select few were given permission to camp on the synagogue’s property during the summer. Well, they must not have been that “select” if they’re weren’t considered trustworthy enough to be allowed to sleep indoors overnight, unsupervised. And I can guess how neighbors figured out what was going on. Out of 15 transients at least 12 would be heavy smokers, generating clouds of stinking roll-your-own cigarette smoke polluting the neighbors’ airspace. And transients were probably going in and out of that property at all hours during the night, for no good purpose. I support the City of Boulder’s action in this case 100%. As usual, David Harrison, Esq. is grandstanding with his silly comments. Personally, as a homeless person, I have no desire whatsoever to be surrounded by more than a dozen others at any time — let alone when I’m trying to sleep. BTW, I camp outdoors legally and always have since February of 2008.

Accused Aurora shooter James Holmes was in fact being treated by a psychiatrist, we now know. What she knew about his mental state and potential for violence, and whether it warranted being reported to the authorities, is still undetermined.

Tonight at my campsite: meatball sandwiches and tapioca pudding.

Max’s Journal 7/26/2012

By Max R. Weller

It’s always good to see people and organizations accept responsibility when they are at fault. Kudos to Denver Rescue Mission for ‘fessing up in re the food poisoning scare last Sunday evening.

It’s apparently $$$ NOT well spent, since we’re getting so much speculation that might as well come from reading tea leaves. What FCC Chairman Newton Minow famously said about 50 years ago still holds true today: “When television is good, nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite you to sit down in front of your TV set and keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that you will observe a vast wasteland.” Now, of course, the stations are on the air 24/7. Other than a major sporting event like the most recent Super Bowl featuring the Patriots and Giants, and reruns of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit featuring actress Mariska Hargitay, I have no use for TV.

An interesting story here, but mass murder suspect James Holmes’ package didn’t arrive until last Monday — after the Aurora shooting — despite initial reports that it had been sitting in the mailroom since July 12. To me, it’s further proof that he wanted to be the center of attention after the atrocity he’s accused of committing (and he wanted to be alive to enjoy it, too). So far, James Holmes is getting his wish.

42,012 pounds of reusable items collected sounds like a lot. But, in the context of CU students’ conspicuous consumption financed by their parents, it’s really not. Far more stuff winds up in the landfill, after being rummaged through by local bums.

I’ve always been skeptical of self-reporting, because people (gasp!) have been known to lie. Repeatedly. In all circumstances. Suicides can be recorded accurately; but, self-reported happiness is almost meaningless. Yet another suicide here in Boulder County was found yesterday morning, after a lengthy search. And this report just came in as I’m writing. Let’s stop kidding ourselves — we are NOT a happy state or county or city, generally speaking. We need to do much less self-medicating and navel-gazing, and do much more to help other people as a way to put our own lives in better perspective.

Sometimes, it’s best to simply eliminate a person from your life when that individual is an ongoing source of frustration due to a variety of reasons. I recently decided to “unfriend” someone on Facebook, and it feels great; sort of like the relief one receives from lancing a boil on one’s butt. I have very little patience with posers, who are neither smart enough nor humble enough to know that they don’t know about my area of expertise, homelessness. By contrast, see this article and consider this quote from it: “We need to talk to the people who have the expertise, who are living in the vulnerable situations,” said Mitzi Ledingham, deputy director of health and human services for Pitkin County. I think we can safely assume that Ms. Ledingham won’t be cited for illegal camping in solidarity with the homeless, plead guilty, then renege on her 10 hours of community service, and finally turn herself in after calling the news media to cover her arrest on what amounts to a contempt of court charge — as my former FB friend, who happens to be an ordained minister, did.

I’ve found that King Soopers on Table Mesa has frozen fully-cooked sausage/egg/cheese biscuits, 2 per package for $2.59. When allowed to thaw out for a few hours at the ambient temperature, they taste great. Obviously, I don’t own a microwave oven, so I’ve learned to make do without one. You wouldn’t want to carry ’em around in a backpack for several days before eating ’em, however. You would wind up Fifty Shades of Green like this poor soul at “Jesus Saves” in Denver. That pic deserves to win a Pulitzer Prize.

A reminder: please take the Boulder Housing Partners 1175 Lee Hill Community Engagement Survey ASAP.

(I think it’s a new Personal Record for links in a single post).

Sean Maher shills for Bridge House

By Max R. Weller

See Mr. Maher’s column from the Daily Camera here.

Copied below is my response —

You’ve never spoken to me, Sean. See https://homelessphilosopher.wordpress.com/ and my community blog on the Daily Camera website.
 
What I tell people who want to help panhandlers they see: give them food, water, etc. rather than cash — until such time that they might come to be certain that the panhandler is NOT an alcoholic/drug addict. I’m clean and sober and have been for the past ten years. And in my case, because I receive no government benefits of any kind and live outdoors year-round, I depend on the voluntary cash donations I receive from passersby on a daily basis. It pays for my food, clothing, hygiene products, camping gear, a monthly bus pass, an occasional night in a motel in wintertime (although I now plan to stay with friends exclusively to save $$$), and other necessities. My lifestyle is not self-destructive, but it’s certainly outside the norm.
 
I cannot advise any homeless person to become trapped in the homeless shelter/services industry’s clutches. The goal of both government and private nonprofit agencies is to create a permanent dependency in their clients, for the benefit of the industry’s employees. More Homeless People = More Money. Bridge House is one of the worst enablers of that transient element you describe in your column, and I refuse to patronize them. Nor have I stayed overnight in Boulder Shelter for the Homeless since April of 2010; BSH is another enabler of transients, who consume resources that ought to go to help Boulder County’s own homeless folks.
 
Frankly, the excellent and spacious BSH facility at 4869 N. Broadway should be this city’s day center, and a one-stop social services provider to the homeless as well. It’s a concept I’ve been pushing for years. Unfortunately, competing egos and differing visions make it impossible to get anything done — except for the absurd Wet House proposed by BSH and Boulder Housing Partners at 1175 Lee Hill. Gee, $6 million plus for 31 units — what about the rest of Boulder’s 750 homeless people (2012 Point-in-Time Report)? It’s nuts!
 
The people running these nonprofits are clueless . . .
 
 
 

‘Justices Extend Firearms Rights in 5-to-4 Ruling’

By Max R. Weller

See the online New York Times article from June 28, 2010.

It seems that some of the more extreme opponents of an individual’s right to bear arms want to pretend that McDonald v. Chicago hasn’t settled the issue of the Second Amendment, as it relates to state and local gun control laws — just as the more extreme opponents of abortion want to pretend that Roe v. Wade hasn’t settled the issue of a woman’s right to choose.

We see yet another example of this disconnect from reality in a letter-to-the-editor of the online Daily Camera today.

Earth calling lunatic fringe, come in lunatic fringe . . .