Monthly Archives: November 2014

What I’m most thankful for this Thanksgiving, 2014

DONATING TO A NONPROFIT IS NOT THE SAME AS HELPING THE HOMELESS!

By Max R. Weller

I live in Boulder, CO. I’ve been sleeping outdoors in the same neighborhood since early in 2008, when I decided to make my home (or campsite, to be precise) in the Rocky Mountain region. The natural beauty is a constant reminder to me of man’s insignificant role in the Grand Scheme of Things, and I’m thankful to be both humbled and enlightened at once.

It’s true that I’m still healthy enough to walk with the aid of just a single trekking pole, and it’s also true that I have many friends who care about me; certainly, these are blessings I’m grateful for every day of the year. But, I want to tell you that having a purpose in life — blogging about homelessness in order to inform, critique, admonish, and sometimes praise — is the most important thing to me.

It is a great challenge, because there are those who wish to remain ignorant of the most elementary facts about the subject, and they deeply resent a homeless man who dares to set them straight. Their typical ad hominem responses never faze me, however, and even the one or two who have become obsessed cause me to briefly scratch my head, no more than that, and then I go on with my chosen work.

One of my detractors referred to me, in his comment online to the Daily Camera newspaper this morning, as “a homeless Bill O’Reilly” and I consider that high praise, indeed. I rarely watch TV, but if someone were to call me “a homeless Chris Matthews” I wouldn’t be happy about it, not a bit. Partisan posturing is not really my gig, but vigorous debate does stir one’s blood.

Let me give you an example of what beings me joy:

This letter-to-the-editor of the DC was posted online yesterday evening, and is copied here in its entirety:

On Nov. 15th, at 5:25 p.m., as I was walking home from an errand, I witnessed what I would presume was a homeless gentleman, because all he was clothed in was a very thin pair of pants, and a sleeping bag draped tightly over the top of his body, as he was holding up a sign, asking for food or money. It should be noted that Boulder was receiving snow and temperatures were well below 25 degrees. Not one individual that I observed offered this gentleman any form of assistance. I walked home in tears, and called the Boulder Police Department , to have an officer do a welfare check, and take the man somewhere warm for the night at least.

As a 52-year-old Boulder native, I was raised to believe that all individuals deserve dignity, kindness and respect. I remember my younger days, when everyone I knew in Boulder believed and acted as if all of the members of Boulder deserved to be treated with kindness, whether they were rich or poor. Sadly, I am seeing the city I love turn into a place that caters to mainly upper-class individuals, with little or no regard to those with lower incomes, who also live here.The continued eruption of high-cost housing, high-end stores and restaurants, makes it impossible for individuals who are either working two or three jobs just to keep a roof over their head and food on the table, or homeless people (for many different reasons, e.g. mental illness) to make it here.

With the tragic increase in deaths among the homeless population this year, and the continual struggle for many low-income families to make ends meet, the people of Boulder need to reflect and consider better ways to include all of the individuals of Boulder, first by showing compassion and dignity to each person, and discovering better opportunities to help lower-income and homeless individuals thrive and better themselves, so they can share in the same resources as upper-class individuals in Boulder do.

Shelley Slinkard

Boulder

I was able to respond to her concerns by providing info, which she might pass on to the next homeless man in need:

Shelley, the homeless man you met could (and should) have been at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless at 5:25PM to play the lottery for a bunk there. If he wasn’t lucky and was turned away, he could (and should) have gone to Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow, which is open nightly until March 15th, 2015.

Clothing, camping gear, food, all kinds of resources are available FREE to the homeless. Deacons’ Closet and Boulder County Cares would be helpful in getting the man you met into more suitable clothing and gear.

Here’s a complete list: https://homelessphilosopher.wordpress.com/resourc…

I understand that Boulder PD is well acquainted with all of this, so you did the right thing by calling them to do a welfare check.

Frankly, I’m not surprised that a Boulder native is unaware of all of the help available to people on the streets. The homeless shelter/services industry concentrates on fundraising, and the news media is most attentive to dead homeless people (especially if they died outdoors), so a listing of resources for the living who are in need gets short shrift in the spotlight.

I do what I can, using the meager talents I’ve been given, and I’m so THANKFUL for the opportunity.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

https://i1.wp.com/www.taurusarmed.net/forums/attachments/diner/78875d1394051970-i-finally-got-up-nerve-do-turkey-spam.png

Homeless camper’s Thanksgiving feast

A civics lesson, and more

DONATING TO A NONPROFIT IS NOT THE SAME AS HELPING THE HOMELESS!

By Max R. Weller

Read Boulder forum discusses racism in light of Ferguson case in the Daily Camera. My online comment follows:

The city of Ferguson, MO paid a high price for wrongdoing by Michael Brown and his lawless supporters — thugs taking advantage of any pretext to trash other folks’ property. Apologists/enablers for this criminal element aren’t much better than the looters and arsonists themselves.

A prosecutor, any prosecutor, is bound by legal ethics to NOT file charges if he doesn’t believe a conviction is possible. Sometimes, he takes the case to a grand jury so that they may also investigate and determine if charges are warranted. This is an entirely proper use of prosecutorial discretion and the grand jury. The presumption of innocence overrides the hysteria of mobs in the streets. Also, it’s almost certain that no federal charges involving any alleged violation of Michael Brown’s civil rights will be brought, not when it’s clear that pro-Brown “witnesses” lied about what they saw. As a practical matter, the case is closed.

Could something like the violence in Ferguson happen here in Boulder, CO? It would have to involve transients, of course:

ekvcf

Don’t think that stoners are incapable of rioting; with the self-entitled mentality the bums learn from local do-gooders, they could decide to march down Pearl Street demanding FREE WEED and wreaking havoc along the way. Setting fire to bicycles and hybrid vehicles, looting trendy boutiques, etc. — oh, the horror!

The wealthy white elites will have brought this on themselves:

el70aWalmart Neighborhood Market protest

The bums who migrate to Boulder, CO are NOT warm and fuzzy folks, committed to spreading Peace and Love everywhere they travel. Dave (above) needs to get a clue.

Tomorrow night, the Christmas lights at Kansas City, MO’s Country Club Plaza will be turned on:

kansas-city-country-club-christmas-lightAn annual tradition

I hope my friends, the wild four-legged critters, remember me when I return to my campsite in north Boulder . . .

That’s all for now. It’s time for more tasty fried SPAM, done to crispy brown perfection.

Ferguson, MO riots, and more

DONATING TO A NONPROFIT IS NOT THE SAME AS HELPING THE HOMELESS!

By Max R. Weller

This image from the unrest in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, MO really speaks for itself:

pic_giant_081614_SM_Ferguson-Looting-G

I have nothing to add . . .

Like Diogenes in ancient Greece, I’m trying to get people to look at the truth; my focus is on homelessness in Boulder, CO in the 21st Century. I welcome disagreement with my views based on reason, from those who have some firsthand experience and no hidden agendas. Sadly, it’s mostly ad hominem responses I get on the Daily Camera website, where you can remain anonymous and say almost anything without consequence from the DC’s website administrators. (This is why more progressive newspapers around the country have switched to using a Facebook login for those wishing to comment.)

Here are some comments I’ve posted over the past two days, following the Daily Camera articles linked to:

Boulder grapples with latest deaths as city sees surge in homeless fatalities

> Surge? What surge? Just because more homeless deaths occurred outdoors, rather than in a hospital setting, doesn’t necessarily indicate there are more homeless people dying in 2014.

HIPAA may prevent us from finding out how many homeless people died in hospitals in any given year (even if we assume they record that information about a patient being homeless). Being in the front lines of homelessness myself, I’ve heard NO anecdotal evidence that would justify the use of the phrase “surge in homeless fatalities” in the headline.

Isabel McDevitt is stirring the pot, hoping that more donors will step up and give more money to Bridge House. The Daily Camera ought to refrain from allowing itself to be manipulated in this way.

> Panhandling provides “pocket change” compared to the monthly SSI disability benefits, which many chronically homeless people receive along with Colorado AND and food stamps (often traded for cash at 50 cents on the dollar). In theory, SSI recipients with mental health issues are supposed to have third party payees to make sure that those benefits are spent wisely; in practice, the money is spent on liquor, dope, and a few nights of partying in a motel — then the homeless person is destitute for the remainder of the month.

For the individual commenting here frequently who denies that food stamp fraud even exists: http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/foodstamp.PDF Quoting from the USDA website below:

“Possession or use of food stamps or an EBT access device by unauthorized persons, or by authorized persons in a manner not authorized by the Secretary of Agriculture, violates the Food Stamp Act (7 U.S.C. 2024). One of the most common forms of food stamp fraud, known as food stamp trafficking, involves the buying or selling of food stamp benefits for cash, drugs, weapons, or other items of value.”

One way or another, it’s the citizens who pay for this self-destructive lifestyle of drinking/drugging.

If you see a panhandler who is obviously under the influence, filthy, aggressive, etc. — just keep on drivin’ down the road. Someone sober and well-behaved you’ve gotten to know over the course of several years is, of course, a different matter entirely.

Donors to organizations that ENABLE transients from Denver and elsewhere, such as Bridge House, ought to reconsider what it is, exactly, that they support with their $$$. On a few occasions, I’ve paid for the $5 bus fare on RTD back to Denver for some of these transients, and I firmly believe that the nonprofits here in Boulder, CO need to do likewise.

Body found near 21st and Pearl likely Boulder’s 8th homeless death of 2014

> You can’t save everybody. I’ve had homeless friends who persisted in the lifestyle of drinking/drugging and the associated misbehaviors, knowing it would kill them, and I think they just gave up on life.

Don’t misunderstand; these individuals were very involved with the social services system and homeless shelter/services providers. And now they’re dead. Think about that, before you let the do-gooders talk you into making another big donation . . .

> What kind of housing? $200,000 apartments (Housing First at 1175 Lee Hill, the new 31-unit project built for $6 million plus) are not feasible for each one of the hundreds of homeless single adults in Boulder County.

There is a cost-effective alternative, which is springing up in more progressive cities all across America: http://www.wkow.com/story/27396016/2014/11/15/tin…

Here’s another example that’s been around for a while: http://www.tentcityurbanism.com/2014/08/dignity-v…

And here’s the minimalist approach, which I’d build and pay for myself if zoning in Boulder County were to permit it: http://thetinylife.com/tiny-cloroplast-house/

> Reported to website administrators, in these words:

More hateful and untrue attacks from this obsessed individual, who knows very well that I don’t qualify for Housing First “at Lee Hill and Broadway” because I don’t suffer from alcoholism/addiction nor do I struggle any longer with clinical depression (and haven’t for years). Furthermore, I was never prosecuted for “stealing from the very social service agencies” he refers to in a vague way. Finally, as a first-time nonviolent felony offender, I was paroled from Missouri DOC after serving 15% of my 5 year sentence. Lies, half-truths, and cyber-stalking over a period of years are the hallmarks of “mstdye/bndr” on the Daily Camera website.

> This post which copied my complaint was intended for you, and others here — frankly, I don’t expect mstdye’s comment to be deleted.

Dude. As for you, I told my story of criminal wrongdoing in my very first blog post over five years ago, and have never tried to hide it, because it’s a part of my homelessness narrative: https://homelessphilosopher.wordpress.com/about/

Later, I added to that: https://homelessphilosopher.wordpress.com/caring-…

Everyone who knows me personally knows about this, and likewise all of the people around the globe who follow my blog.

Dude. I don’t need to be forgiven by any anonymous obsessed character on the DC website, especially NOT one who can never address my message on homelessness itself, but wants to “kill the messenger” as the old saying goes.

If anyone doesn’t like what I have to say, the mature thing for them to do would be to respond to the points I raise and counter with relevant points of their own, and stick to the issue of homelessness. Honestly, anyone who can’t do that sounds like a snot-nosed brat.

Happy Holidays to you, and I mean that sincerely.

> I have a job, that takes up several hours every day.

That it neither involves a paycheck nor seeking your approval is irrelevant.

> Never said I was, and no honest person would interpret anything I’ve posted in that way. BTW, who are you to talk about redemption?

But, if you can’t get past the negative stereotypes perpetuated by nonprofits trolling for $$$, please feel free to write another check to Bridge House or Boulder Shelter for the Homeless.

> So, do you believe that the 80% of homeless people who are NOT rapists or killers or other kinds of miscreants — like Jim Budd and “Eddy” Waters, respectively — should crawl back down into the gutter with them?

What a twisted view you have!

BTW, I spend at most about 10 hours per week on the corner of N. Broadway & U.S. 36, when I’m in Boulder. I make enough to buy life’s necessities, so I don’t require government assistance.

I challenge you to talk to the passersby and the residents of that neighborhood, and ask them about me, specifically.

Nothing special about me or the 80% in general — except in comparison to violent criminals who are enabled by the do-gooders leeching off of kindhearted donors.

> I constantly point out that 80% of homeless people are NOT doing what the high profile bums are doing.

I’ve lived in Boulder County continuously since early 2008. According to government agencies at every level, I’m a resident here.

I’m blogging from my secret hideout at a private residence belonging to friends in another city.

I pay full fare to ride on RTD, the same as you.

I shower at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless when I’m there in the mornings, but since I’ve donated a total of $350 to BSH and its street outreach, Boulder County Cares, I figure the water I use is already paid for. Ditto for the small locker to keep a change of clothes, hygiene items, etc.

Furthermore, I pay taxes and donate to worthy causes every single day when I’m in Boulder.

I’ve said repeatedly that I’d pay for and build my own tiny house. From what I gather, most “tiny house communities” expect those who move in to lend a hand in construction and pay a monthly rent for the space occupied by their tiny house. I fully agree with this policy.

It’s possible I may have a place to put a tiny house by next summer. That’s been the sticking point: restrictive zoning even on private property whose owners would be happy to give me a spot.

You critics are a dime a dozen; unable to debate the issue of homelessness on the basis of facts because you lack any firsthand knowledge, you resort to ad hominem arguments. Okay, two can play at that.

You are disingenuous by choice, bottom line. Maybe you’re close to someone in the social services system here, I don’t know. Sadly, YOU are part of the problem for refusing to consider that there is much you don’t understand about my area of expertise: homelessness. Fortunately, lots of others are paying attention and thinking about it in new ways.

You would much rather keep homeless people down, dependent on the system, and most of all SILENT before your awesome presence.

> Talk to the people who know me best, and ask them if I’m what’s wrong here.

They’ll set you straight.

> Have you thought about this, O Wise One? I spent the first 45 years of my life in “society” and it didn’t work out.

Instead of a homeless philosopher in the latter stage of my life, I might have become an investment banker in my 20s, and been sitting on millions of dollars in my retirement now; perhaps even dwelling in a McMansion up in the Foothills and looking down on the rest of you. What good what that have done for anybody besides me?

By society’s prevailing standards, the former course makes me a failure, while the latter path would have made me a success.

Hogwash! I reject your standards, and society continues to muddle through somehow . . .

Happy Holidays to you, and I mean that sincerely.

> I agree with you, but you leave out any accountability by homeless people themselves to treat other people and the community with respect. Yes, I’ve done my best to help rid my neighborhood in north Boulder of the transients getting drunk and passing out in ditches, in full view of kids and adults who live in Dakota Ridge. Ignoring the problem is NOT an option in such circumstances. Talk to these folks who have been my neighbors since early 2008.

Sure, I engage in “small acts of kindness” and I’m lucky to be the recipient of larger acts of kindness from those who know me best. You should never believe that this will change anyone, however. More $$$ to the nonprofits is NOT an answer, and in some cases is enabling self-destructive lifestyles.

Judging souls is not in our purview as humans. We judge actions, both our own and those of others, many times on a daily basis — and rightly so.¬†

> Cancer is a disease; you can’t get up one morning and choose to be cancer-free.

However, even after drinking to excess for many years as I did, you CAN choose to be sober. I made that choice over 12 years ago, and it wasn’t due to AA or “inpatient treatment” — it happened because I sincerely wanted it.

Most of the chronically homeless alcoholics/addicts I’ve known don’t want to be clean and sober, although they can play the game to manipulate the system with great skill. Think about the $200,000 apartments at 1175 Lee Hill, where one can continue getting drunk in the comfort of Permanent Supportive Housing.

Yes, often enough I feel like I’m beating my head against a wall of ignorance here in “America’s Smartest City” but somebody needs to tell the truth, for a change.

Max’s Journal 11/24/2014

DONATING TO A NONPROFIT IS NOT THE SAME AS HELPING THE HOMELESS!

By Max R. Weller

Here’s a great story: A Thanksgiving wish come true: Family takes in homeless man for holiday dinner.

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.inquisitr.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Neal-Shytes-finds-family-for-holiday-670x376.jpg

Neal Shytles at Union Mission Ministries in Norfolk, VA

A homeless shelter is no place to be during Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or any other day for that matter. That’s why I prefer to live outdoors most of the year. The time that I can spend indoors with my friends in Longmont, CO is all the more valuable, because it’s an escape from being warehoused in a dorm or exposed to the weather outside.

If you have any thought of “adopting” a homeless individual or family, please use good judgment and get to know them FIRST. 80% of us are harmless, despite our circumstances, but you need to beware of the 20% who are just sociopathic bums. Like this guy, for example:

http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site21/2014/0205/20140205__06DCABUDw~1_200.jpg

(Boulder County Sheriff’s Office)

The fact that Jim Budd (above) was embraced by local do-gooders, including Joy Eckstine Redstone, mattered not at all; he’s a violent rapist who assaulted a volunteer at Bridge House.

One day, I might have my own place (which wouldn’t be anything fancy), that I could build and pay for myself, where I could celebrate the holidays with the wild critters I’ve befriended:

https://i1.wp.com/www.thetinylife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/IMG_2347.jpg

Tiny Coroplast House

I’m not even going to mention, at least not in any detail, the nutty conspiracy theory being advanced about a serial killer preying on homeless people in Boulder, CO. Here’s the Daily Camera report of the latest death: Body found near 21st and Pearl . . .¬†Quoting from it below:

Bill Sweeney, with Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow, said that, though it seems like many of the city’s homeless have died this year, the list actually appears shorter than in past years.

With the recent death, he said, he hadn’t heard yet of anyone missing from Boulder’s homeless community.

But, he added, “It’s always sad to hear of someone’s death.”

He said the weather overnight wasn’t dangerously cold.

“Deaths from exposure are relatively rare,” he said. “Often, people are simply worn out from the hard life on the streets.”

Hear, hear! It’s good to read a reasonable comment, and one which isn’t trolling for donations to the local homeless shelter/services industry. However, we can expect to hear from Isabel McDevitt of Bridge House when the story is updated.

Happy Holidays to all!

A true story of homeless-on-homeless crime in Boulder, CO

DONATING TO A NONPROFIT IS NOT THE SAME AS HELPING THE HOMELESS!

By Max R. Weller

Copied from my Facebook page:

When I returned to my campsite in north Boulder [yesterday] morning, after an absence of ten days, I found that some two-legged varmint had gone through my camping gear and helped himself to my camping pad and my large 9′ x 12′ tarp. I found the tarp a short distance away, neatly rolled up and concealed by a piece of cardboard.

I retrieved ALL of my stuff, which included a smaller 6′ X 8′ tarp I use as a ground cover, a couple of pillows, a couple of inexpensive comforters from Walmart, and my zero degree-rated sleeping bag — none of which had been stolen.

Good thing my friend has a minivan . . .

After returning to my hideout in a nearby city, I spread everything out to dry and freshen up in the sun. As I unrolled my large tarp, I found that it contained another camping pad and a comforter — neither belonging to me. I consider this “poetic justice” for the thief, who wound up losing his own stuff in the process of stealing mine.

He won’t be getting it back.

Moral of this tale: CRIME DOES NOT PAY!

Addendum (also from Facebook): For years I’ve made it a point to camp alone and maintain a low profile, which is why I’m accepted in the neighborhood where I’ve lived outdoors since early 2008, and law enforcement officers give me “a wink and a nod” when they do a welfare check, which isn’t often because they all know I’m okay. Unfortunately, the transients from Denver and elsewhere will roam around the area — which is at the edge of Boulder’s city limits, and includes both suburban and rural settings — boldly looking for anything they can steal, or for a place to party and pass out drunk. (My campsite is only a short distance from Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, which makes it more convenient for me to go there for a shower in the morning; I’d much prefer to be 1/2 mile or more away, but my bad hip and other medical issues make it impossible to walk that far.)

The tendency for many chronically homeless people is to form these rat packs of a dozen or more, and they can’t possibly escape drawing attention to themselves. S_T_U_P_I_D. As we get deeper into winter, I hope the bums will go to either the shelter or the emergency warming centers, and stay out of my area. Maybe they could hitchhike to a city in a warmer clime, such as San Antonio. LOL!

https://i0.wp.com/imgick.oregonlive.com/home/olive-media/width620/img/portland_impact/photo/13434358-mmmain.jpg

Portland, OR in 2013

The news media today: What is it good for?

DONATING TO A NONPROFIT IS NOT THE SAME AS HELPING THE HOMELESS!

By Max R. Weller

After all of the buildup in the news media, you might have thought that President Obama was going to come up with a brilliant new unilateral approach on immigration policy. Instead, it’s the same ol’ delay leaving millions of people in limbo; it remains unlikely that any permanent resolution will be forthcoming in the Obama vs. Boehner pissing contest.

And why is the media hanging around in Ferguson, MO for weeks and months on end? Could it be to instigate violent confrontation between “protesters” — many of whom have no ties to Ferguson, and come from other states — and the authorities? Is it really all about ratings? See the recent Gallup Poll: Trust in Mass Media Returns to All-Time Low. My own distrust centers around the appalling ignorance of most reporters and commentators.

Seems to me the American people are being poorly served by politicians in both parties and by the news media.

On the local scene: I realize this is an editorial from the Longmont Times-Call, but newspapers in the same corporate family are fungible, so what I say also applies to the Boulder Daily Camera.

Recently, there have been some encouraging signs of change at the DC: more moderate voices in the editorial capacity, for example. This is good, if it continues as a long-term trend.

Reportage at the DC? Not so good; the newspaper continues to accept and to parrot the PLAN-Boulder County line, as put forth by the elected representatives of this cabal of less than one percent of Boulder’s citizens. And Heaven forbid that the DC should critically examine what’s really going on at Boulder Housing Partners, Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, and Bridge House (the Big Three players in our local homeless shelter/services industry). I might have a heart attack if I ever read a story in which the reporter/writer asked probing questions of Betsey Martens, Greg Harms, and Isabel McDevitt! It ain’t happening now, ain’t never happened in the past, so why should we expect it to happen in the future? $200,000 apartments for only 31 active alcoholics at 1175 Lee Hill, while hundreds more homeless single adults are still on the streets, isn’t even on the DC’s radar screen. Municipalization shenanigans? The DC doesn’t seem to care about being the people’s watchdog with that issue, either.

A Free Press exists in theory, here in the Boulder Bubble, but in practice it falls far short of the ideal.

Where is Clark Kent when we need him?

https://i2.wp.com/fikklefame.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/who-disguised-as-Clark-Kent.jpg

George Reeves and Jack Larson (as Jimmy Olsen)

The information we need is out there, but finding the truth requires sorting through piles of garbage, and is not for the faint of heart.