May 29 2007

Help those who have hope

Posted by J. Craig Canada in Homeless, shelter, Twelve Step Groups

That was a quote from an article about the homeless in San Francisco. I found it while searching for something else a couple of days ago. I didn’t read the article, but just scanned enough to ascertain that it wasn’t what I was looking for. But that jumped out at me because it sums up, better than anything else I’ve seen, what is essentially wrong with ‘homeless services’. At least here in Santa Cruz.

Instead, they refuse to help those with hope. The excuse they use is that the dire need of the hopeless takes precedence over the needs of those with hope. That would be bad enough, but they add insult to injury by accusing the hopeful of taking advantage and being selfish for so much as asking for help.

‘Helping’ the hopeless at the expense of the hopeful, and arbitrary rules and regulations rather than helping one person at a time, are the fundamental flaws in government social services in particular, and charity in general.

I think it must have been different once, before communities outsourced their problems to corporations and the federal government. I don’t remember any homeless when I was growing up, and I checked homeless demographics lately to discover that while Pensacola (with a population and attractions similar to Santa Cruz) has about the same number of homeless, and serves about the same number, Gadsden claims it has less than 100, all but 3 sheltered.

Someone in the forums told me my only choice was to give up the marijuana and go through the Pioneer Program. And that is the other thing wrong.

The Pioneer Program is a ‘program’ for ‘dual diagnosis’ homeless. What that means is people diagnosed with a psychiatric disability and substance use. And they house these people with the ‘normal’ homeless, and give them authority over them. That is cruel.

The fact is, ‘homeless services’ aren’t designed to serve the needs of the homeless, but the needs of the homed who don’t want to see them, hear them, smell them, or know they exist. And the one in Santa Cruz is essentially a penal institution, if not a detention facility.

Some one asked me in the forums what I would change, and generally I say that other than to treat marijuana as medicine I can’t think of that much. But that isn’t true. While I think the staging idea is good – emergency shelter, transitional shelter, subsidized housing – to house people with psychiatric disabilites who are detoxing with ‘normal’ people is not a good idea. To give them 90 days shelter while ‘normal’ people only get 30 is an insult, at best. And to put them in authority over the ones who don’t submit to a substance abuse program is cruel.

Everyone acknowledged that I was one of the few they’d seen go through that place that actually had a chance of getting out of the cycle of homelessness. And instead of helping me, they dashed my hope.

Another thing I’d change is to get all the rehab racket sooth sayer pill junkies OUT. The government is endorsing and funding a state religion, the 12-step abstinance religion. It is forcing people, with the threat of jail, into these programs – not because of any behavior but because they can’t pass a drug test (an unconstitutional and unlawful search and seizure).

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