Monthly Archives: November 2015

Homelessness around America

DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY, STOP ENABLING BAD BEHAVIOR!

By Max R. Weller

samaritanhousedenver

Samaritan House in Denver, CO

See Vincent Carroll’s column in the Denver Post, in which he interviews Larry Smith of Catholic Charities in that city: What Catholic Charities is doing for Colorado’s homeless. Excerpt below:

Q: What are your impressions of the state of homelessness in Denver? Has it gotten better or worse in recent years?

A: Our view is that it is getting worse, not better. (BTW, I concur — MRW). What we’re seeing down at Samaritan House is a higher volume of people. Now that may mean that it’s concentrated whereas before it was more spread out. It’s hard to say for sure. We don’t do the point-in-time study [that counts the homeless]. What I can tell you is that we never have an empty bed, so that no matter how many people exit homelessness there is always someone to fill that bed. Our job is to help reestablish their own personal dignity and self-worth. 

I will say that we are seeing a larger number of elderly people, especially women, since we’ve opened the Holy Rosary Shelter at Samaritan House. We converted our overflow men’s shelter through an agreement with the Salvation Army, and opened up that overflow shelter to women to become the first permanent women’s shelter in Denver. We were under the impression that there was a small group of women who needed shelter. And what we found was the opposite.

You’re seeing the composition of homelessness change somewhat, and you’re seeing greater needs among the homeless. So that is the challenge at Catholic Charities: How do we keep our eyes open to adjust the services that we provide to meet the needs of people who come to us today as opposed to 30 years ago?

Samaritan House launched in 1986 and it was a beautiful model. Just to give you perspective. About 350 people sleep there every night. They have a men’s dorm and a women’s dorm: 126 beds for the men’s extended stay program and 48 beds for the women’s extended stay program. And then we have a family floor. And what we traditionally see is people move through this shelter or come to us get into the extended stay program, which is essentially a four-month program to get people stable. They have to be sober when they come into the program. And then we help them find housing or income; that may be government assistance or it may be a job, or a combination of the two. and then stable housing.

It takes someone being in the program at least 30 days before you determine if they’re really serious or if they’ll go back to their old ways. Of those in the program more than 30 days we used to see a high percentage — high 80s or low 90s — who would leave with stable housing and stable income. Today we’re seeing the same high percentage leaving the program with stable income but we’re down in the 60 percentile for people leaving with stable housing because the housing market has changed so dramatically in Denver.

What Larry Smith doesn’t mention is that scores, perhaps hundreds, of homeless men and women in Denver move on to Boulder because of the latter city’s reputation for handing out Free Stuff to anybody who shows up.

The Wall Street Journal has an article (requires a subscription to view online in its entirety, but I have the hard copy in front of me), Los Angeles Neighborhoods Tackle Homelessness on Their Own, that contains an insight from a homeless man I want to share:

[Bobby Foster, a 58-year-old homeless man] is an Army veteran who has been living in Temescal Canyon Park for nearly seven years. He said he wasn’t interested in Los Angeles’ $100 million homeless initiative, explaining that he enjoyed living outdoors.

“They want to put us in a homeless shelter with basically 24 people,” Mr. Foster said. “I don’t want to live in that environment. I have been there before. It is like a damn prison cell.”

To me. it’s even worse than what I experienced in Missouri DOC for the simple reason that there are no enforceable rules requiring the homeless to behave in a reasonable way, and the shelter/services providers in Boulder, CO pack people in like sardines — a maximum of 160 at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless and generally 100+ at Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow.

Thank goodness I’ve learned to survive outdoors, and also have friends who welcome me into their home during wintertime . . .

Boulderite wants 10,000 Syrian refugees to settle here!

Syrian-refugees-landing

Syrian refugees landing in Greece

By Max R. Weller

Read the story in the Daily Camera; it’s unfortunately for real: Boulder City Council eyes broad ‘inclusivity’ declaration. Quoting from the febrile musings below:

Boulder City Councilwoman Lisa Morzel said council members had been contacted earlier this fall by Boulder resident Susan Wortman, who is also development director for Clinica Family Health in Lafayette.

Moved by dire headlines from the Mideast, and citing a photograph of a Syrian 3-year-old washed up on a Turkish beach,  Wortman wrote — speaking for herself, not her employer (emphasis is mine — MRW)that “10,000 immigrants need to move to a specific town, into a home with a real address. Why not Boulder?”

Wortman added that she and her husband could host a refugee family short-term and proposed that Boulder is well-positioned to help some of the Syrians. “If Boulder does take up this sponsorship, I think we should challenge every other city in the United States to do the same,” Wortman wrote.

Okay, she’s backing off her statement that Boulder needs to accommodate all 10,000, I guess that was just left-wing hyperbole, perhaps fueled by one too many glasses of yuppie wine and a bit of weed . . . If not 10,000 Syrian refugees does she mean 1,000 or 100 or how many?

The most obvious PROBLEM is that Boulder, CO is unable now to house the hundreds of transients from Denver and elsewhere — many of whom are bad actors and consume a disproportionate share of available shelter/services. What’s alarming is that Morzel and Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones are taking this harebrained idea for Obama’s refugees seriously. Granted, a so-called declaration has no legal force and is little more that a Feel Good gesture. Even so, these folks are NUTS.

Well, what the Hell — Ms. Wortman wants to take in stray people, that choice is hers. From a Google search, here’s her address:

Susan M. Wortman

2887 Tincup Circle

Boulder, CO 80305

Susan, I hope you get lots of responses to your kind offer of sanctuary! And I trust that you’ll have a criminal background check done for every adult refugee you invite into your home.

Addendum: Maybe Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones should pay more attention to her day job as executive director of Eco-Cycle, and less attention to grandstanding about world issues: Boulder County’s Eco-Cycle in a slump, as losses mount and markets shift.

Odd, isn’t it? This info about Suzanne Jones was NOT reported before the elections for Boulder City Council earlier this month . . .

Transients to be served beer and wine at Boulder Library’s Canyon Theater

DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY, STOP ENABLING BAD BEHAVIOR!

By Max R. Weller

No, I’m NOT making this up; Boulder library to launch art house cinema in Canyon Theater in the Daily Camera tells the story. Quoting from the article below:

The Boulder Public Library plans to turn the Canyon Theater on the north side of the Main Public Library into an art house movie theater three nights a week.

The movie theater, which is scheduled to open in early 2016, is the result of more than a year of discussions between the library and Downtown Boulder Inc,, which will manage ticket sales, alcohol service (emphasis is mine — MRW) and marketing.

Continuing excerpt:

The library has obtained a liquor license to serve beer and wine at the cinema . . .

The most recent library director — we get a new one every couple of years — expressed his hope of getting the “right audience” at this new venue. Well, David Farnan, how do you expect to keep the inebriated transients out? They will ruin the experience for everyone else, as they do already on both the north and south sides of the 1001 Arapahoe facility.

I commented about this on my Facebook page yesterday, and e-mailed my thoughts to BPL in the morning:

Excuse me for just one moment — isn’t this the same library which has been plagued for years by drunken bums committing all sorts of misbehavior and (generally) petty crimes on its premises? The library which has lost a number of its patrons (including me) because we no longer feel safe there? Now, you’re going to serve alcohol?

I feel badly for my friends who work in the “front lines” at BPL. The higher-ups running things are just clueless!

Last evening, I finally received this e-mail reply from someone named Laura Hankins:

Hi Max,

The Boulder Public Library is partnering with Downtown Boulder to produce this new set of events. The thought of bringing film to the downtown Boulder area has many long time residents very excited. Staff at the library are also very excited to be able to offer such a rich complement of films for our patrons. If you have further concerns feel free to call us during regular business hours, and I will be happy to put you in touch with our Administrative team.

Sincerely,

Laura Hankins, Adult Services

No wonder it took several hours to craft this response; it’s a completely evasive statement that fails to address the issue of alcohol being provided to those who have demonstrated on a daily basis that they can’t handle it. Laura might as well have said, “We don’t want to face harsh reality and prefer to Feel Good about ourselves.” Although she didn’t say that, I can read between the lines of her e-mail reply . . .

The other matter that should concern everyone is this — how was this negotiation between BPL and Downtown Boulder kept secret for over a year? The DC report is the first I’ve heard of it, and I pay closer attention than most Boulder residents. We’ve been presented with a fait accompli.

canyontheater

Can’t you just see the pickled idjits staggering around as they try to find a seat?

Adopt a bum

My all-time favorite post, one I think is especially appropriate at Thanksgiving.

homelessphilosopher

By Max R. Weller

(I’ve already been adopted, thank you).

Consider the abject failure of Denver’s Road Home, that city’s so-called 10-year plan to end homelessness; after 7 years and almost $60 million spent, Denver has more homeless people on the streets AND more “formerly homeless” people as permanent dependents of the social services industry than ever before! The situation there has reached a crisis stage, according to an editorial in the Denver Post, despite hundreds of Denver’s homeless using neighboring Boulder, CO as an overflow destination for shelter/services. (It must be noted here that emergency overnight dorms at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless will be closed as of May 1st, not opening again until October 15th). It’s just terrible, unless you’re employed in the industry and making a living from the misfortune of others; in that case, you’re sitting pretty.

Perhaps the biggest factor keeping the chronically homeless people I’ve observed in a “marginalized”…

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“Bowling for Bums: My Life as a Charity Whore” — an excerpt

This is, of course, Longmont’s OUR Center.

homelessphilosopher

(Copied from Chapter Nine, “At Least People in Prison Have Some Place to Sleep”)

By A. Price

There is a Poor House in Longmont. Except unlike its counterparts in 19th century London, you aren’t allowed to sleep there overnight. No matter how poor you may be, unlike a real 19th century Poor House, in Longmont you are tossed out on your ass at 4 pm — no matter the weather.

The Poor House actually used to let homeless adults sleep inside if it was snowing or the temperature dropped below 20 degrees, but once they launched their four million dollar capital campaign to purchase a bigger building, they kicked the homeless out the door.

Apparently homeless people sleeping on cots in a snow storm makes a bad impression to major donors being enticed to support a nonprofit agency whose mission is assistance and self-sufficiency services for the poor. What? Say…

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Nonprofit Scrooge of the Year for 2013: Longmont’s OUR Center

Longmont’s OUR Center is the Nonprofit Scrooge for All-Time!

homelessphilosopher

By Max R. Weller

602126_10151505376987148_779260725_nExecutive Director Edwina Salazar (on right) accepts another donation of $$$

Sometime in 2012, the powers-that-be at Longmont’s OUR Center decided to end emergency overnight sheltering for homeless adult men and women, and focus instead on fundraising for a new facility dedicated to so-called transitional living. This change took place on January 1st of this year.

The Times-Call published a puff piece on March 9th about the new aim of this nonprofit, featuring a gentleman named Doug Branstetter. Read Longmont’s OUR Center offers a fresh start for those struggling , homeless. This was more than the Homeless Philosopher could stand to let pass without a challenge. So, I became involved in an online debate in the comments following the story:

homelessphilosopher: The fact is that many chronically homeless people will not succeed in transitional living programs.

What does the OUR Center do with them, since…

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Excerpt from the book “Their Finest Hour” by Winston Churchill

See the online text here. Excerpt copied from Book 2, “Alone”, Chapter XVII “The Blitz”:

One day after luncheon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kingsley Wood, came to see me on business at No. 10, and we heard a very heavy explosion take place across the river in South London. I took him to see what had happened. The bomb had fallen in Peckham. It was a very big one — probably a land-mine. It had completely destroyed or gutted twenty or thirty small three-storey houses and cleared a considerable open space in this very poor district. Already little pathetic Union Jacks had been stuck up amid the ruins. When my car was recognised the people came running from all quarters, and a crowd of more than a thousand was soon gathered. All these folks were in a high state of enthusiasm. They crowded round us, cheering and manifesting every sign of lively affection, wanting to touch and stroke my clothes. One would have thought I had brought them some fine substantial benefit which would improve their lot in life. I was completely undermined, and wept. Ismay, who was with me, records that he heard an old woman say: “You see, he really cares. He’s crying.” They were tears not of sorrow but of wonder and admiration. “But see, look here,” they said, and drew me to the centre of the ruins. There was an enormous crater, perhaps forty yards across and twenty feet deep. Cocked up at an angle on the very edge was an Anderson shelter, and we were greeted at its twisted doorway by a youngish man, his wife, and three children, quite unharmed but obviously shell-jarred. They had been there at the moment of the explosion. They could give no account of their experiences. But there they were, and proud of it. Their neighbors regarded them as enviable curiosities. When we got back into the car a harsher mood swept over this haggard crowd. “Give it ’em back,” they cried, and “Let them have it too.” I undertook forthwith to see that their wishes were carried out; and this promise was certainly kept. The debt was repaid tenfold, twentyfold, in the frightful routine bombardment of German cities, which grew in intensity as our air-power developed, as the bombs became far heavier and the explosives more powerful. Certainly, the enemy got it all back in good measure, pressed down and running over. Alas for poor humanity!

Churchill_portrait

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill circa 1940