Del Williams

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Homelessness is a Mentality

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The problems in Skid Row have more to do with mentality than money. It is almost a shared mentality of the clients and caregivers. It is the mentality that “this is the best place” to be. Clients feel no rush to find a job, program, or place to go because shelters do not want them to. Shelters are paid by the head, so what would be their incentive to watch a person leave? None! Shelters cannot raise money with empty beds, so they compete with each other to get “lifers,” those who will never leave homeless shelters because of mental illness, drugs, and laziness.
The only people that seem to get kicked out of shelters are those who are in the throws of mental illness that is beyond the scope of the staff of these organizations to deal with, such as paranoid schizophrenia. As it is, most of the shelters use security as their main staff, which perpetuates a prison mentality. You know wardens watching over prisoners. Clients are constantly belittled by some staff with comments like, “you don’t pay rent so you don’t get to complain.” Or “You can go somewhere else if you don’t like it here.” It is a way of further stripping the homeless of their dignity. On a whim, clients can be thrown in the street for just being obnoxious. Some people are constantly terrorized by staff with threats of being put out on the street. The homeless know which homeless shelters to go to and which ones to make a last option. They base it on treatment by staff.
This does not even begin to speak of the male staff members that have sex with the clients they are supposed to be serving. In one case, a client was constantly “invited” to a staff member’s home to have sex. It was supposed to be hush! Hush! But all the client’s friends knew. That staff member is still on the job, and still sending out “invitations.” The “invitee” went off with a drug dealer in order to get out of the situation. Again, it is one of those things that happen, but few talk about or are believed if they do. Who better to prey on than mentally ill homeless people?
Some of the problems with the police must also include the shelters. They promote loitering by putting people on the street before there is any reason to be on the street. Shelters wake up clients between 5am-5:30 am and they are forced on the streets by 6:30am. Name a business downtown that is open at that hour. You cannot, because there is none. Therefore, these people have nothing to do and nowhere to go until something opens up.
Aside from the shelters, is the issue of lack of housing; in counting the number of affordable housing projects on record, it does not speak well of a city that is so “dedicated” to eliminating homelessness. But it would not matter if you built a thousand unit apartments tomorrow that were free, because the mentality of the people of Skid Row clients and organizations is so distorted that it would ultimately fail.
The problems on Skid Row are clear, but the years of distorted thinking by clients and Shelters have added far more to the burden of homelessness.




Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil. Elie Wiesel
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2 comments:

constance said...

I liked what you have to say. Is it sedition to think that the current commander in chief shouldn't wait until 2009 to be replaced since its just a formality. For the sake of a formality. It appears to be criminal intent to me to stick HAL with the biggest gov contract. Why not alter a flawed system of the vice president and have co-presidents. The best from both parties. Why wait until 2009 as a formality. Makes no sense. The founders were pragmatic not sticklers for formality.

constance said...

Am I being homeless now. I am waiting to figure out what to do with myself. As far as being an activist without the cliche sloguns. I want my ideas out there. Thanks for making sense fellow Black lady.