What homeless shelters CAN DO, and what they CAN NOT DO

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

By Max R. Weller

I won’t belabor the point that I’m more qualified by experience to comment on this; suffice to say that most do-gooders offering their opinions are using their preconceived notions about homelessness. One example being: “Nobody chooses to be homeless!” Excuse me, but I do along with many others who no longer care to live in the mainstream of society, even though many of us did so for years. Other prejudices from uninformed but (perhaps) well-meaning Boulderites abound: However, most of us are NOT helpless and needy, are NOT substance abusers, are NOT mentally ill and unable to take care of ourselves, are NOT simpleminded, are NOT serial petty criminals constantly being ticketed for silly offenses easily avoided, and we certainly are NOT pedophiles and rapists in residence at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless on the taxpayers’ dime.

CAN DO: Provide emergency overnight shelter in life-threatening wintertime weather conditions (nobody will die on the streets because of a summer thundershower); provide a central location for access to all available social services (ideally, this would be at BSH); provide at least one hot meal per day (either breakfast or lunch) and an endless supply of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to-go (along with bottled water); provide SECURE lockers where cash won’t be stolen by anyone on staff who looks up the combination or uses a master key; provide a facility SAFE for the adult survivors of sexual abuse (absolutely NO registered sex offenders allowed on premises at any time).

CAN NOT DO: Function as a secure psychiatric facility (forcing the mentally ill to remain inside if they could freeze to death by leaving); serve as a de facto Colorado DOC halfway house; offer on-site treatment for alcoholics and drug addicts; accept anyone so seriously ill that they require hospitalization or a nursing home (BSH staff does NOT include either RNs or CNAs).

It’s incumbent on the State of Colorado to provide psychiatric hospitals, halfway houses, inpatient substance abuse treatment centers, and skilled nursing facilities.

I despair that my commonsense vision will ever come about — and the reason it won’t is that places like Boulder Shelter for the Homeless operate by the creed of More Homeless People = More Money. There are literally millions and millions of $$$ from both public and private sources being taken in by Boulder, CO’s homeless shelter / services industry each and every year (“nonprofit” in name only) — and we have more homeless men, women, and children on the streets now than before!

Let’s all hope it doesn’t come to this:

Victorian Era homeless shelter 

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