By Max R. Weller
See the story in the Times-Call about this annual count of the homeless. I’ve previously participated, in each of the past few years, but have seen no benefit to myself whatsoever. To the extent that numbers of the homeless translate into more $$$ for the shelter/services industry, it might seem like a good idea to hold an annual survey; in actual practice, however, it’s the worst-behaved transients from Denver and elsewhere who receive the most and Boulder County’s own homeless people are shortchanged in the process.
The unspoken and unwritten creed of Boulder Housing Partners, Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, Bridge House, and other local nonprofits is More Homeless People = More Money. When you consider the 1175 Lee Hill Housing First project for chronically homeless, single adult alcoholics/drug addicts with a dual diagnosis of mental illness — well over $6 million will be spent before any of the 31 units are occupied by HF clients — it’s obvious that money is being squandered in the most reckless manner conceivable. Boulder County has families with kids sleeping in their cars, if they’re lucky enough to still own a vehicle; why not a Housing First project for them? The answer, unfortunately, is that the Wet House model serves to employ many more case managers, substance abuse and mental health counselors, and other support staff. Most people find this sort of exploitation of the vulnerable for financial gain despicable, especially in view of the fact that HF clients will be allowed to continue drinking themselves to death on premises. Believe me, the street drunks would be just as happy with a minimal level of emergency shelter/services at far less cost, and you have only to look at BSH’s emergency dorms and Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow to confirm that fact.
As for me, I spent last night at my humble campsite. I was warm and comfortable, and enjoyed the peace and quiet in my solitude. BTW, I have refused to apply for any of the government benefits to which I’m legally entitled, and instead make enough $$$ to meet my needs through my generous sponsors. Why would I want to be counted in the Point-in-Time Survey, anyway? True, because it’s convenient to do so I take a shower nearly every morning at BSH and I keep a small locker there for my meager possessions; but if it closed tomorrow, I’d quickly make other arrangements. I’m not interested in helping increase funding for Denver bums, unless it would be a one-time deal to hand out the $5 bus tickets on RTD back to Denver — but that isn’t in the cards.
As I left BSH this morning about 7:15AM, a staff member asked me (in reference to the Point-in-Time Survey), “Max, do you have time to answer a few questions?” I said yes, I had the time, but I wouldn’t be doing so. I added that I’d filled out my 2010 U.S. Census form, which was my legal obligation. I wished him a good day and I walked out the door.
After all, because I’m clean and sober and relatively sane, there ain’t no do-gooders offering me a new $200,000 apartment at 1175 Lee Hill . . . Not that I would care for the pickled idjits as neighbors, if they did.