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.

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2 thoughts on “Ferguson, MO riots, and more

  1. becky

    I’m so glad to find you out here I currently live in Arizona I cycled in and out of homelessness for 19 years I have been published once on the subject in a Baltimore magazine that went out of business. Along the way I was the victim of a long series of violent crimes I’ve been trying to write a book about my experiences but I recognize that I’m going to need help you’re a brilliant man and I’m really enjoying reading about what you have to offer the world sincerely Elena in Arizona

    Reply

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