About a year ago, when I went down to the flatlands of Berkeley (the warehouse district) to pay the rent on my storage locker, I noticed this make-shift tent had popped up on this side street. And since then, every month when I go down there to pay my rent, there are more and more of these tents and make-shift structures. And more and more homeless people. This ever-growing tent city of homeless people.
And it is highly symbolic in my mind. Because I’ve been following the homeless scene for 40 years, since 1976. And from my eyeball perspective, the homeless problem has gotten worse and worse every year. And the homeless population has grown bigger and bigger every year. For 40 years.
But here’s the really weird part. For 40 years I’ve heard the same people coming up with the same “solutions” that haven’t worked for 40 years. And they’ll probably continue to chime in with the same useless “solutions” for the NEXT 40 years.
We haven’t even been able to SLOW DOWN the problem. Let alone SOLVE it. It’s obvious our “solutions” to date haven’t worked.
Now if a patient keeps getting sicker and sicker, unless it’s a terminal illness, it’s usually a sign that the Doctor has MISDIAGNOSED the problem. And the patient will continue to get sicker and sicker until the Doctor comes up with the correct diagnosis.
It’s obvious we’ve MISDIAGNOSED the homeless problem. Nothing weve tried has worked, after all.
It’s obvious we need to come at the homeless issue from a fresh, new perspective. And see if we can diagnose the actual cause, and the actual solution.
7 thoughts on “Tent City, U.S.A.”
Hello, Ace. I agree! I am sick of the fact that this problem is getting worse and no one cares to do anything concrete or sensible about it. I say rent control and affordable housing is where you start. And what happened to the churches? On Christmas, you have thousands of do-gooders volunteering their children to “feed the homeless”, but the rest of the year their Christain charity is much less noticeable (not that there aren’t a lot of them doing good work, and I thank them). Yes, there will always be a small number of die-hard “free livers”, who do not WANT to have shelter. But most of the homeless would love to have any small little studio with a toilet, sink, and shower of their own! Homelessness is caused by many things besides just poverty, although that is the main problem, such as drug/alcohol abuse (though believe me if you weren’t an alchy when you became homeless, you WILL BE! Many will anyway. When I spent a fairly short amount of time as a teenager homeless, I chose to drink rather than freeze to death, and starvation can be fought off with methamphetamine and alcohol/heroin also combats the fear of being in constant danger, especially as a young person, with sexual predators all around. Not the other homeless as you might think, but the “regular” types who own homes that cruise the weaker homeless prey, hoping they will trade sex for food, cash, or a place to sleep. Mental health problems or a record of crime that renders them unemployable, even if they are just misdemeanors.
BUT, scariest of all, many of us are a mortgage or rent payment away of this happening to US! This is why people fear and try to ignore them! But please give a dollar or any bit of change you have to a homeless person and a smile. Acknowledge them as human beings in need. It could be YOU! And doing this will make you feel good. Now, I must make a comment on this recent phenomenon I’ve noticed lately: The demanders! They are not usually homeless but do things like DEMAND a cigarette, and while invariably getting into your close personal space, DEMAND money! To these people, I say “NO, I am poor too, sorry”! I do NOT feel bad! I hate to “profile” but they are always the same types. They are young “gangster” types, or wannabees, who feel they are owed things because of the color of their skin or mine! Truly homeless people will ask very humbly, and usually are very grateful. “Bless you” they’ll say or something similar. The other type won’t offer ANY thanks, but get angry with you! You’ll feel that you narrowly missed getting mugged! And you have.
Oh, please, never wonder or concern yourself with what a homeless person is asking for $ for, as in “will they buy alcohol or drugs with my $”? Really, do you CARE, and do you know or could you possibly wrap your precious head around what it may be like living outdoors, knowing that no-one in the world except maybe God cares for you. They either have no family, lost them to death, or worse, have been rejected by them! But, the solution. Apartments set aside for them, and MUCH better mental health care.Of course with Trump in office, none of this will happen, We’ll just have to wait for someone who cares about universal healthcare (Berney?) until then! We need outreach into the community to the homeless. There is a Hotel in San Fransisco that tries to do the right thing. But it has a LONG waiting list if they are even open still. The bay area seriously needs a cap on rent and raising rents on certain “slum” areas like the Tenderloin District. I dunno. It’s exasperating! The economy keeps going the same but the cost of living continues to skyrocket! What would you do Ace? Mostly I would do something that would ensure that no homeless persons are arrested for just being homeless! If a crime is committed, sure, but the police have “crimes” like loitering and curfews and crap that makes it illegal to be outside! It should not be a “crime” to be poor!
Appreciate your comments. My opinion? We need to do to things: 1.) Stabalize our population growth, and 2.) Start building one hell of a lot of cheap housing.
Now I’m going to give an analogy that illustrates the PRIMARY cause of our homeless crisis/housing shortage problem. From the vantage point of a smaller sample size.
Here at UC Berkeley, for decades the enrollment for the freshman class has grown bigger and bigger every year. Unfortunately, the University has not been building new student housing to keep pace with the ever-growing student population. Ergo, we now have a very serious shortage of student housing. It is in fact referred to as the “housing crisis.”
Now my particular blog readers are a cut above the general lot of blog readers when it comes to intelligence, keen insights and/or wisdom.
So I’m confident that you’ll look at this “crisis” and quickly come up with the correct analysis of the root CAUSE of the problem. And the only two SOLUTIONS.
(The only two solutions being 1.) Cut way back on the student population growth, or 2.) Start building one hell of a lot of new student housing.)
(PS. There is no third solution.)
Bukowski said that in a dictatorship they kill the undesirables. In a democracy they ignore the undesirables.
I believe that the same old plans to solve homelessness that never work are designed to be ineffective so that the homess can continue be ingnored/ blamed with good conscious.
Just looking at Berkeley isn’t enough. Suppose UC Berkeley cut back on student population, and built enough housing for the students it retained. This would help of course – building housing really is the solution in the long run – but what about Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco? The university, even the city of Berkeley, is a minor part of a region-wide problem. Heck, you could shut down UC Berkeley and it would have almost no impact. In this region we are short hundreds of thousands of living units. No, the churches do not have the resources. No, no one city or institution can make much of a dent. No, giving people money on the street is not the answer.
My position has long been 1.) We have to start building a hell of a lot of new housing. And 2.) We have to stabilize our population growth.
I’d like to see thousands of SRO (Single Resident Occupancy) hotels. A room with a bed and a sink and a bathroom down the hall. This is one of the cheaper and quicker way to create large numbers of housing. And its the kind of one-step-off-the-street housing that is particularly needed.
And we have to rein in our exploding population growth. That’s the engine that’s fueling the whole housing shortage.
very simple and obvious solution: You build housing for the homeless—and don’t give me the bullshit excuse that it’s such a complex problem that it is not that simple