The news we’ve all been waiting for has arrived: The causes and cures of homelessness are no longer a mystery, and in fact are simple.
Those in charge need more money to fund innovative program slogans to replace old, deficient program slogans.
A local expert on homelessness, Sage Wolf of the Building Bridges facility on Ukiah’s south side, explained the ineffectiveness of previous approaches. Among past failures noted by Ms. Wolf were “a lack of collaboration services” and insufficient “simulation stabilization services.” Also, she noted, that in moving forward we must “work together in a positive way.”
She said brand new UCSF research “confirms that many of the ‘tried and true’ efforts to eliminate homelessness were based on limited perceptions and misunderstandings.” But those misguided programs have given way to newer, smarter, more knowledgeable research.
This was all made plain in a recent Ukiah Daily Journal front pager by reporter Carole Brodsky. Using the UCSF report as a launching pad, Ms. Wolf says the new plan is “More resources and better approaches to multitudinous, interconnected problems being implemented locally.”
Multitudinous. I am cheered to learn UCSF researchers have both a thesaurus and a sense of humor.
More importantly, we now understand the root causes of homelessness. Answers are both obvious and an embarrassment to those of us who didn’t realize the simple truth: We need to spend more money. We need more government programs. More caring people like Sage Wolf.
Especially because we’re so very close to vanquishing a social plague that has bedeviled society lo these many decades.
The UCSF report by the Benioff Homeless and Housing Institute generated a lot of pages including interviews with 3200 homeless individuals in California. Their responses were taken at face value with no corroboration, and established as fact that the vast majority of homeless were Californians, and a substantial percentage were native to their own county. We applaud their efforts.
Questions are good. Answers are helpful. Allow me to suggest a few questions directed at a different audience, but one also intimately involved in the Homeless Crisis. Let’s ask the Benioff researchers at UCSF these questions:
1) If those old homeless program slogans with gaudy titles like “Constellation of Services” are now seen as failures, how will you reassure the public that there is magic in the “Continuum of Care Program” or the “better approach to multitudinous, interconnected problems”?
Also: Do you people actually believe this stuff?
2) Given the fact government agencies have spent billions and billions of dollars through the years, yet the homeless problem is bigger than ever, why should people assume the next few rounds of multi-billion dollar handouts to programs and advocates will accomplish what the previous money couldn’t?
Also: Would you contribute $1000 out of your own pocket?
3) Has anyone probed the astonishing growth of programs (federal, state, local) to help homeless people but in reality function as jobs programs in government offices and nonprofit agencies? Have researchers considered a potential conflict among advocates assigned to “solve” the very problems that would end their well-compensated employment?
There are enormous numbers of people feeding endlessly on public money ostensibly dedicated to curbing homeless problems. They have access to grants and/or connections with “public servants” burrowed deep within various government agencies.
But are they actually hoping to keep poor homeless people living on sidewalks, their possessions piled high in shopping carts as they head to yet another appointment with yet another well-meaning advocate who offers just enough assistance to guarantee they stay homeless?
Dear Reader: Suppose you were employed in a position that involved nothing more than going to occasional meetings to provide input, analyze options, review progress updates and rubber-stamp budget scenarios, then further suppose the job paid $100,000 a year. How eager would you be to work really hard, do your job really well, knowing that fixing the problem(s) you were hired to fix would terminate your job?
We thought so, and we thank you for your honesty.
(NOTE: At last count there were 31 agencies in Mendocino County working on our homeless situation. Can you think of another problem on which the county has spent so much money hiring so many people resulting in so colossal a failure?)
As you are about to learn, once again, California politicians know of no solution to any problem other than throw more money at it.
You might consider getting a second job working nights at a Kwikee Mart to afford your extra taxes.
(Tom Hine lives in Ukiah with his unhelpful writing partner Tommy Wayne Kramer, who lives in North Carolina with his assistant, Tom Hine.)