Last weekend, looking at food carts downtown, a man who looked quite disheveled and in shock starts trying to talk with me. He tells me he just got off the bus from the hospital, and that morning he had been attacked with a knife by a homeless woman with gang affiliation. He showed me his wounds and hospital bracelet, and I decided to spend some time with him and try calming him down.
Before long he tells me that he's only been homeless a few months, and before that he was collecting enough SSI to sustain himself. He says a while back he had spent time in jail and been released, but the jail never put that in the manifest. Apparently (someone) looked into his record and it looked like he had escaped, causing him grief that suspended his SSI payments, in turn putting him on the street. He was expecting payments to continue soon.
We talked about things like honor, culture, respect, family. Eventually I let slip that I was a software engineer and he started telling me that he used to really be into Linux, and his old work had him using BSD and Unix, and we eventually started talking about physics which he was much more knowledgeable than I. After I thought his shock was gone and feeling a little better, I bought him some food to help him through the evening.
That same night I had conversation with a different homeless man, who was more rude and rather creepy. He talked a lot about how the homeless are being fed human meat, and how addictive it is.
A friend who's from a wealthy Asian-dominated town in California tells me there's a service where people will drive around and pick up homeless people and give them a free ride to the neighboring town. The first gentleman in my story above told me a similar thing: Las Vegas was apparently giving free bus tickets to the homeless to come to Oregon, because our homeless services are top-tier.
I've bought food and even pumped gas into portable gas cans for people, refusing to give them any cash, only to see their story unravel when they realize they won't get money from me. The original story about needing gas to pick up their paycheck morphs into something else that requires money.
I had a man yell at me after I pumped gas for him because I didn't want to give him straight cash. And then seeing the same people whacked out on something or drinking beer a few days later trying to pitch you the same story.
The unfortunate thing is that those people do need help, usually mental health help but solving that problem will require more than people temporarily supporting their addiction.
I was approached by a guy at a festival who'd seen me taking "street photographs" with my SLR. He talked to me for a bit about photography and seemed more knowledgeable than average about the technical aspects.
After awhile we started talking about his personal circumstances-- being out of work, not having any cash, and finally pulling up his shirt and showing me a fresh-looking wound on his side and saying that he'd been attacked earlier in the day. I didn't end up giving him any money (I pretty much never carry cash), but if I'd had any I probably would have. Looking back, in light of your post, I wonder if there was a "help me I'm injured" grift that I just missed.
I guess he's doing the same gig just a bit more fortunate about his circumstances.
Talking later with a local from that town, it turns out dude has been running that line for years, and regularly re-breaks the finger to give it that little touch of verisimilitude.
As many people (even the Pope!) say, the best thing is still to give directly to homeless people but to never give more based on a story. The people with stories have a job, of sorts and I'll let them collect from their "employers". I just give a dollar here and there to those who ask.
It's somewhat lame that the City settled for a measly compensation of 400K. They should've all been rounded up and send back to Nevada, to the hospitals that they belonged to.
In any case, the legal argument was that Nevada had a duty of care. It's not about "rounding them up", it's about the state of Nevada providing them with shelter and psychiatric care. Which presumably, they would do in Nevada.
Correct. They didn't come to SF voluntarily. Since they had mental issues, most (if not all) didn't even know what was happening to them.
It's the most cruel thing to do.
I am ok with homeless and poor people, but having to dodge a crazy guy almost doubling my size throwing punches in the air is not a pleasant tourist experience. Or being robbed of my water bottle while I waited my wife just outside Sephora.
It was scary for me, and definitely left me with no desire to go back.
 sfcityattorney.org - Nevada Patient Dumping => https://www.sfcityattorney.org/category/news/nevada-patient-...
If you send someone half way across the country, it will be difficult to return. They also mention Key West contractually bans anyone who returns from using their homeless services.
Nevada is actually very close to Oregon, and transportation to LV is quite cheap.
Not very close, and the ones sending homeless out of Las Vegas know that.
I say this as a socialist, not a libertarian or whatever :)
Crazy to think that this guy was tuning PF firewall rules thirteen years ago. Mental illness is a bitch. We need to make it easier to get conservatorships.
This man I talked with, one of our conversations was about the daily offerings of free food in Portland for essentially anyone willing to show up. He listed off several places, praising the eggs and waffles at one place, but dismissing the bland oatmeal of another. It gave me hope to see him happily reminiscing the generous efforts of those willing to offer their time, skill and supply.
I think it's important to understand that the homeless are more like regular people than we want to admit. There are some sweet and kind people who try really hard to maintain, and there are some bastards who are fine, or even excited, to ruin it for everyone. The question is, how do we identify those willing to work hard at rehabilitation, against those who are happy to commit real crimes against people? How can we offer them cheap housing and meaningful work?
When I first moved to the SF Bay area, I was surprised by the amount of visible homelessness and by the number of service economy workers who drove nearly two hours to and from work.
I also had my first experiences with the "campuses" of major technology companies, where money was made hand-over-fist. I think the recent widening income gap is a natural consequence of the technology we have invented. A relatively small number of people are able to generate a relatively large amount of profit; this is the nature of the software industry.
But that relatively small number is still enough to dominate the economy of a major metropolitan area, and so it has, and the demand for labor routinely outstrips the supply of housing for those laborers (artificially constricted, but also geographically constrained), and so those who work in software and electrical engineering and cetera can afford to live in the area. Those who do not, can not.
I look at the cities where this is an issue and I see similar threads: industries where money from everywhere flows to a relative few. Technology skims off the top in San Francisco. Finance skims off the top in New York. Government skims off the top in Washington, DC.
So the rise in visible homelessness is perhaps the expected result. Cities are economic systems, and it is easy and myopic to cater only to the demands of the prime mover. But the prime mover has auxiliaries it needs to function, without which the system will collapse.
And my experience with collapses is that they are not gradual, but rather, they are sudden.
Last night, a fire raged through abandoned vehicles parked under Interstate 280. Black smoke poured out from under the freeway and choked Portrero Hill. I watched fire crews advance on the flames and extinguish them. What will happen when the people we rely on to extinguish our flames cannot afford to live in our cities?
I'd imagine the expected result is that prices increase to support higher wages for service workers... which they actually have. Just one example: a take-out salad for lunch now costs $15 in San Francisco. The place I'm thinking of has huge line at lunch, so business seems extremely good.
Regional economic prosperity being a _cause_ of homelessness makes no sense to me, unless that economic prosperity for the few took away every business opportunity for everyone around them (e.g.: robot manufacturer replaces all jobs in all industries). The people making money are going to have to spend money.
So I wonder if it has more to do with other societal/economic changes going on that have changed how money is spent:
* Could it have something to do with Amazon/Home Depot/big box stores impacting local retailers?
* Could it have something to do with local manufacturing jobs going overseas?
* Could it have something to do with the 1099 gig economy work making it infeasible for companies to employ people full time (in that type of gig work), and driving down income for those jobs?
* Could it have something to do with the massive increase in drug use?
Or all of the above? Or more reasons?
Also, the fact that it's happening in a period of very low unemployment does not bode well.
ps - Firefighters get down-payment assistance in San Francisco. I personally know a couple who live near me, thanks to this. https://sfmohcd.org/resources-first-responders
 - https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Number-of-people-shoo...
SF has, and has had for awhile, some of the most restrictive construction and zoning laws in the country, and as a result demand has far outstripped supply. A decent number of people in SF become homeless for the most obvious reason that they just can't afford housing.
Does the demand outstrip the supply in large part because of the zoning laws.
What other cities had a similar population and vibe to SF 40 years ago, but followed the path of rampant housing growth?
I am very glad to hear that there's down-payment assistance for first responders in San Francisco.
Another way big tech actually COSTS taxpayers money
We’ll pay them more.
Ditto for teachers, janitors, waiters and gas station attendants.
I expect this is where we’re headed. Several people I know who work on poverty wages in the arts industry here pay their room and board in elder- or child-care for a homeowner.
We often hear that terms like “feudalism” and “landed gentry” applied to Bay Area housing policy are over dramatic. I think they’re dead on.
I don't have much sympathy for anyone who chooses to work in the arts... One must see the risks taken, and that the rewards are unpredictable.
> elder- or child-care for a homeowner
Are you talking about the very wealthy here? The upper income? The middle or even low income earners that made good financial choices? Looking after children and elderly is honest work.
Are these art workers tied to the Bay Area by anything apart from their choices?
You have different goals in life than other people.
Please try to be aware that the path you've chosen is not the only right one. Some people have different goals.
Some people even have the cognitive ability to regard the goal of fulfillment in life and creativity as more important than the run-of-the-mill goal of survival that most people are seemingly satisfied with reaching towards.
This is a failure of city planning and should not be excused or ignored as if this fialure was inevitable.
Careers in the arts are generally regarded as belonging to the second category for all but a handful of lottery winners.
I am old enough to have family, friends and acquantances from plenty of different ages and wage brackets: minimum wage hospo, the retired poor, sickness beneficiaries, young and unemployed by choice, successful land-banked hippies, successful founders, successful artists etc. I support my friends and family, even when they are making lifestyle choices.
Your reply comes across to me as condescending.
This makes sense, but does it explain the issues?
You mentioned yourself that people working in software are a "relatively small number of people". Can they have such a big impact on everyone else?
this seems to be aggravated by zoning laws and NIMBYism in the US where localities will not tolerate high-density housing that is an eyesore but provides little homes to people who'd otherwise not have one (or have to pay higher prices than they otherwise would)
What a strange example for you to use. First, firefighters in most urban areas make muchos, muchos dollars. Second, firefighter jobs are extremely desirable, for that reason and many others ("heroism", firefighter groupies, extreme lengths of downtime, early pensions, etc) Third, in poorer areas, volunteers are all-too happy to be firefighters.
As I said, strange example. Maybe you could fret about garbage collectors instead...?
Median annual salary: $35,440
10th percentile salary: $20,520
90th percentile salary: $57,060
First-Line Supervisors of Fire Fighting and Prevention Workers
Median annual salary: $53,180
10th percentile salary: $28,270
90th percentile salary: $78,740
(Firefighters in Alabama make more than in California?!?!)
Entry Level (H-2) Firefighter
$78,676.00 - $121,420.00/year
Entry level and before any overtime. If you look at individual salaries you see things like one fire fighter making 220K in overtime alone(!). Other make less, but lots and lots are making 300-400K:
There’s a big difference in what happens in the housing units that are up for grabs vs. the city as a whole.
And it is the growing industries that drive the market rate for housing. Someone who bought in to the market via purchase or rent-regulated lease five or ten years ago has a significantly lower cost of living than someone entering the market today.
Exempli gratia: (in California) If you're living in a $2 million house that you bought for $400 thousand, you might not be able to afford to sell and buy something else at a similar price due to the tax code.
Exempli gratia: If you're living in a rent-regulated apartment that's now leased 40% under market value, if you lose your lease for any reason, you may not be able to afford the market rate. And your landlord has greater incentive to get you out of the unit.
Thus the well-tenured school teacher making $100 thousand per annum can afford to live comfortably, but when this teacher retires, a qualified replacement offered a salary of $66 thousand may choose to live and work elsewhere.
If this is to become the norm, it's a monumental shift in the fabric of American society. Meritocracy/justice/feudalism arguments notwithstanding, the implications are huge. Parenting strategy changes. Not even the very best wages are going to cover your child's cost of living near a decent job at market rate. Setting her up to be a valuable worker is a poor investment.
Instead of researching school districts, research cities and economic trends. Instead of saving for college, buy property in the cities you think will be employment centers in 18 years (and keep it empty to avoid a potential tenant-rights battle). Instead of living in the best school district, live in a rent-controlled apartment in another favored city, maybe the one where you can least afford ownership today. If your family can't afford this alone, go in with another family or two. Choose wisely. Your kids will be roommates for life.
If one of your bets is correct, then your kid gets a decent life. It doesn't matter that she's less educated; a worker's most important qualification is to be there. Whatever the growth industry is will be elated to find any young adult. And she'll have 100x better living arrangements, at 1% of the cost, compared to any sucker whose parents didn't set this up for them like you did.
But this happens in the US disproportionally more than, say, many countries in Europe.
I've heard of way too many US ok-ish jobs that don't provide adequate health-insurance (just to give an example). Maybe I'm a little paranoid but I'd have constant nightmares thinking that a couple of days of hospitalization for a benign medical intervention could set me tens of thousands of dollars in debt (or worse).
Many US issues come from where we place the borders of our local governments. Local was more meaningful before the car, but with increased mobility that’s no longer the case.
Even today undoing those boundaries is fraught by the specter of history. https://www.ajc.com/news/local-govt--politics/fears-about-ma...
If we want to solve racial issues in our society we have to stop demonizing people for wanting good things for themselves and their families as being racially motivated, when the racial correlation is almost purely incidental.
I’m a fourth generation resident of Tacoma, WA just south of Seattle, so I might be able to shed some light on what’s been happening. Please pardon spelling errors, I’m typing this on my phone.
Washignton state is very passive aggressive as a whole. You see it in the politics as well as the people themselves. In this case, Seattle does want to help the homeless but doesn’t want to make the effort to build a proper facility. We’re quick to jump in social issues like gay marriage, but will absolutely balk at anything that requires more money, time, or effort. So Seattle, in the most passive way possible, stops enforcing public camping laws.
There are other significant components to it as well. In the case of the Seattle Police, they just got shaken down by the Dept of Justice for corruption and racial profiling as well as by the WA State Supreme Court (the death penalty ban cites a Seattle prosecutor being openly racist on the record in King County Court). My guess is that the police is being super careful right now to avoid another legal confrontation, so a lot of grey area stuff (like homelessness - illegal to camp but they gotta sleep soemwhere) doesn’t get enforced. The freeway camps get even trickier since they’re on Department of Transportation land, which only the State Patrol has legal jurisdiction on under current law (city laws don’t affect highway land).
One anecdote I've heard through my brother, who has been in law enforcement and monitors things in our old home region. He told me an officer he knew left the force because those types of restrictions were becoming untenable to deal with. Secondhand, so take this, too, with a grain of salt.
I know it's not a one size fits all solution by any means, and has the potential for tons of liberty infringing issues, but it sounds better than doing nothing.
That's what gp didn't like. What do you think since you seem to want a better option. Is that better than jail as a default?
It's supposed to do what you want without prison.
I think we do have data on how well the current system works.
The two programs being what? I know Seattle is having a lot of troubles even implementing them well due to stigmas so I don't know if we even have finished.
I do anecdotally know one of my hyper liberal teacher friends was against them on the east side as she associated heroin use with only downtown Seattle homeless. When I pointed out they were more likely to use the center downtown instead of a 2 hr bus ride and the ones on the east side were for all the people you hear about being hooked on oxygen... She actually started thinking about it instead of just reacting. It's a hard sell with a lot of stigma and fud around it.
It's not my goal to argue you one way or another in a post like this. It's my goal that you actually make an informed decision instead of an uninformed one off of anecdotal data.
* Which also implies a lack of readily available drugs - and guards who aren't accepting bribes to let them in.
If anything, local publications like The Stranger are skewed towards the far-left and keep playing up a misplaced "compassion" angle that serves to stifle any pragmatic counter-arguments through a vague moral argument. And of course, the city council (literally all its current members) is completely inept and has been gas-lighting residents this entire time, as if we can't see the trash, the drug abuse, the usurping of public spaces by transient campers, the rise of crime, etc.
Lastly, claiming that folks in Amazon's pockets shouted down the head tax is not a balanced evaluation. My read of discussions online were that many people were against it, from all walks of life, from all parts of the political spectrum except perhaps the far-left. Construction workers, who don't have the easiest or the most well-compensated job, were the ones shouting down Kshama Sawant's head tax (see their counter-protest at https://youtu.be/ycEa1l01_A0). And it's not just the Amazon ecosystem - over 100 businesses signed a letter to the council against the head tax (https://www.seattlebusinessmag.com/policy/more-100-seattle-b...).
> we had an attempt to tax big companies to get some money to deal with this get shouted down by all the folks in Amazon's pockets.
It sounds like people need to vote for politicians with spines then if shouting them down is all it takes, assuming the majority of people actually wanted it because they believed it would solve the problem.
> assuming the majority of people actually wanted it because they believed it would solve the problem.
The poster is omitting that most people in Seattle were opposed to the tax, because it would have significantly harmed labor unions and regional businesses, like grocery stores.
The Seattle city council crafted a tax without consulting businesses about how economics works, doubled down and told people to stuff it when they pointed out that it was going to damage the local economy by crippling mid-tier businesses that had high-gross, low-margin revenues, and were then forced into an embarrassing retreat when labor unions started campaigning against it and neighborhood organizations circled the wagons to protect their historic businesses.
It was also a pocket change, feel good tax: Seattle spends over a billion dollars a year on poverty, between low-income subsidies and homelessness, and has nothing but a degrading situation to show for it.
People in Seattle just have a simple question: both Amazon and the SCC have spent about $25B over the past decade -- Amazon to rebuild SLU, and the SCC on anti-poverty; why does Amazon have a campus and tens to hundreds of thousands of lives changed, while the SCC has literal poop on the streets to show for it?
I will live here for a few more years for sure. But if the SCC keeps on this same path, and Seattle turns into SF I'm leaving. It's sad, because I've been living here off and on since 2011 and I genuinely love the PNW, since it's got everything I want - access to nature and the water, smart people that I'd consider starting a company with, and a beautiful aesthetic. I'm not the only one that feels this way. Coworkers, especially those who just had kids or are about to, plan on leaving for the suburbs or ditching the city altogether.
Edit: was googling city council videos and, well, here's an example of what I mean:
Look at the crazy tweet quoted by a Palo Alto city councilor for instance:
"Why there's a housing crisis, exhibit #29393911". People who don't believe in supply and demand.
Great point. Look at how paradoxical it is.
Every time unemployment is high, they pump in more money (raising asset values). But unemployment is not high because of "lack" of money.
The real problem is unequal distribution of money pumped into the system. Unemployment is a joke. It's not like the world has run out of things to do. I can think of so many more jobs that need people (like more Boeing testers, more street cleaners, more infrastructure repairers, more artists, mores school teachers, more nurses etc.) None of that is happening because of lack of money. No, its happening because money is being sucked by the few at the cost of the society.
It does by discouraging creation of new money by way of loans.
The uneven distribution of money is because of an unbalanced wealth creation system. Money trickles down from the Fed into assets (owned by banks and wealthy) who then loan that money out to others.
Some of that money goes into business activities such as procuring goods and services, thus creating demand. The rest of that money goes into speculation and buying up more "assets" that will pay out in future.
Notice how labor is not important in any of this at all. Labor is almost a side-effect of this economic system of assets vs assets.
Unfortunately, no human is born with assets. Most humans still make money from labor. If money printing goes into assets but humans make money from labor, it's obvious that this will throw most humans out of the system.
This is like a video game where some people got the cheat code while others didn't.
U6 is much more comprehensive but even it has its limits, you have to contrast it with Workforce Participation numbers which is still at a Decade low number though it on on the rise
2009 (peak of economic rescission and unemployment BTW): 65.7% of people where in the workforce
2018: 62.7% of people where in the workforce
U6 Unemployment sits at almost 7.3% where U3 is 3.8%
However, I think there are probably better counter poonts than such an extreme.
There comes a point when you go into emergency mode and start planning for the worst. We made it to tax season and got our return. we bought a used car and moved to Tulsa, Ok for the cheaper rent. I had also spent 20 years there when I was younger and felt confident I could find a development or any job. It didn't go as planned. I got plenty of interviews, but none panned out. Many employers questioned my time without a job and I think that and my rusting skills keep me unemployed. Hell, I can't even get a blue-collar job. And it didn't help that the used car broke down and I had to walk and ride public buses every where. Now my wife works for $8.50 an hour at a diner and that's what we make it on. I'm in a worse position than before I went to college and it makes me bitter about life, people, hiring practices, and that so much depends on luck and timing.
So yeah, you never know what's coming. Save all you can and keep working towards financial independence, which is the only real guarantee.
1) Add your email in your HN profile in the “about” section. I’m certain there’s a lot of people who really resonated with your story and potentially interested in hiring you, but have zero ways of contacting you. You have to do everything you can to increase your “luck quotient”.
2) Post in “Ask HN: Who wants to be hired” when it comes up again. Mention either remote or local depending on what you’re looking for. Be very honest with your story and what you’re looking for.
3) Reach out to founders in startups in the Oklahoma area if you want to work locally. I know a lot of founders and almost all of them are desperate to hire good developers. Even if your skills are "rusty" the smartest ones will realize it won’t take long for you to get up to speed.
4) Send me an email with a resume. I might be interested or know someone who is.
It’s worse than that. It reads like something a LinkedIn “influencer” who hasn’t had to actively look for a job in 30 years would write.
Here’s some insights from my current job search:
I live 45 minutes away from Seattle. On a good day, it’s a 1.5 hour round trip commute. With Seattle traffic factored in, it can balloon to 3-4 hours round trip. The last two meetups I did go to were full of boot camp students and very few actual employed devs. (Side note, only one of the five boot camps that were there had the WA state technical school accdredidation.) The Meetup talks were glorified sales pitches for B2B AI analytics products (with one company admitting that its AI was actually third world upwork contractors in an news interview a week later).
Not in a position to negotiate that unless you mean 1099 freelance work. 1099 is a hardship since I’d have to basically set up my own business at that point. (I will never do a sole proprietorship since the personal risk is too high if the business fails or I get sued for something.)
>contact and freelance jobs
Did you read what I just said?
Anyways, I’m logging off HN again and working on my blog. I really need to block this site since all I see here anymore are innane comments like these.
>Remote work Not in a position to negotiate that
There are many remote jobs available now. Check out https://github.com/lukasz-madon/awesome-remote-job#job-board... for a list of boards that show remote jobs. Remote work isn't for everyone but it opens up a much wider selection if you're having trouble finding something local.
I'm happy that the money is flowing into tech. But on the same token, maaaaybe it's a bubble? My brain won't dismiss that thought.
I think the fundamental lesson is that we can't take anything for granted, and the stability of the tech industry is just one of those things. Nothing guarantees the USD (my currency) won't plummet, the housing market won't implode, another financial crisis caused by psychopathic bankers won't happen, or ISIS won't nuke NYC.
It's part of "growing up", too. When you're young and have a decent set of middle class parents, you see the world as being very reliable and rigid. Thing are they way they are and you can depend on them. The grown ups take care of stuff, they practically make magic happen.
As you age, you see strong things now that didn't exist before, and weak things now that were strong before. You keep seeing the world as more fluid. And you learn about all the crap that's hit other people and you know, deep down, you weren't born specially exempt from it. The people who "take care of these things"? They're your peers. They can't work magic. And if they understand their job as well as you understand yours, things start to feel uncomfortably like a house of cards.
But hey, Netflix has a new season of $popularShow. That and a refreshing beverage sound like a good way to spend the evening.
And that's a good way to spend a Saturday evening. It's also also not an excuse to not prepare for the future.
I think society has a great responsibility in educating citizens correctly. A lot of the people I met had no grasp of technology, or its role in society, which is a big warning-light in my eyes. Everyone is saying "AI and robotics wont take your job", but it absolutely will, as the jobs the new industry creates seems to be STEM-jobs that require long STEM-educations - something not everyone is cut out for.
I feel like we're yet to see the full consequence of technology's role in our society, and I fear that we will end up with a big chunk of people who cannot actively contribute to the workforce.
> I’m just one giant disaster away from this kind of thing.
this is true for the vast majority of Americans, given that somewhere between 60-70% have less than $1000 in savings
Annualized "new housing starts" is 1.28M/yr 
And we already have a housing deficit, proven not only in homelessness, but in adults sharing rentals, the high cost of rent, new grads completely besides themselves in lack-of-prospects, student debt, etc... In other words, it's getting worse.
Clearly, the only answer is building more housing, and the market is not answering that call. Or give me 40 acres and a mule...
But it's more than NIMBYS. There's foreign capital holding land and property, dog-eat-world construction developers operating nationally and globally, and infestations of anonymous YUPPIES who are basically living in w/e city like it's an extended career commute, and have no incentive to gaf about local problems, but want their sensibilities and stuff to be safe and protected by police—it's these people's tax dollars city politicians clamor about needing to attract in order to fix local problems and ofc pay expensively to police.
Of course such a moral quandary shouldn't be necessary: allow and subsidize the cheapest possible permanent and safe housing everywhere.
At least with this database, homelessness appears to have decreased over the last ten years.
Posting this because it isn't clear whether the "changing face of homelessness" is such that current methods for calculating homelessness are problematic or not.
I'm disappointed with the lack of data and style reporting on homelessness as a whole. Inconsistent statistics or lack of any context makes it hard to form an opinion. The site you linked which should be a good source of data makes it hard to see data over time and inexplicably colors the map by total population, rather than fraction of population (https://xkcd.com/1138/).
From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homelessness_in_the_United_Sta... it appears it has fallen over the past 12 years without much correlation to the economy.
A couple years ago I sat in on a talk by a guy in D.C. who had led a small beltway coalition for over a decade to get data processes standardized across the largest departments within the federal government. Things they achieved, that made one think the U.S. was simply moving from being stuck in the 70's to being stuck in the 80's ,were quite clearly exciting wins for him.
The routine basically goes: Wake up, run / shower @ gym (some days, meditate in tanning booth), go to cafe & write for ~3-4 hours, Citi Bike to day-job, work it & once finished, go to sleep on soho-streets @ night.
I ended up in this situation because I put myself into it so as to be in New York City (publishing house Mecca)
I am from CA but going for it ;)
If you visit my site, https://blondyn.com , you will find Episode 1 of my Aladdin adaptation (Aladdin Exponential) for which I moved to the city.
Also, I recently self-published an NYC short story compilation (Lit Art: Vol.1 - LOL POP), which right now is free to read if you've Amazon Prime.
If you're interested in a fun & light read, I'd recommend the short stories.
Aladdin Exponential is a novel - a spin on Aladdin ~ the premise ~ instead of a Genie coming out of the Lamp, the Aladdin character gets pulled inside to discover a Whole New World .. adventure ensues.
Here are some of my thoughts regarding this topic:
- No one is entitled to live wherever they want, doing whatever job they want, at whatever pay they are able to demand. Different places carry different degrees of desirability, and the resulting demand for locations means that prices will be different for different locales. People need to show some personal responsibility and choose locations, jobs, etc. that are feasible. Choosing to move to a location in a line of work that is not compensated enough is going against the incentive structure built into our market dynamics - namely that a reduced supply of labor for some job will result in wages for that job increasing.
- Long-time residents of an area may find it unfair that they are being displaced by newcomers or a sudden boom or other changes that push prices upward and beyond their reach. Those cities could consider establishing policies for subsidized rent for those long-time residents below some income level. That is, not rent control that impacts individual landlords but subsidizing the cost of housing for long-time residents (e.g. 5+ years) across the entire city's tax base. I keep saying "long-time" residents because there has to be a disincentive for someone moving to expensive locales and using the safety net/goodwill of the public as a means to enable an otherwise irresponsible move. For example, those moving to Seattle or SF in the 2010s have no excuse for expecting anything other than an expensive life, and need to carefully evaluate if they can make it there.
- Cities could assist residents in finding viable jobs and locations to live in if they can't make it locally. They could even help pay for it. For example, it is possible there are people that are homeless in some expensive city and could make it elsewhere, but don't have the funds necessary to get over the hump of moving. Cities could pay for them to move and get settled. In the Seattle area, we spend over $1B a year on homelessness (https://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/news/2017/11/16/price-of...), which comes out to $83K/year/homeless person (since there are 12000 homeless persons in the area). For $25K we could move someone to a more affordable middle-America location, pay for a year of their housing, and potentially even their food/utility costs during that time. Perhaps we could go a step further and match them to jobs. The flip side is that those people need to accept that they may not do a job they want to do. Sometimes you need to suck it up and do something you might consider menial or unmatched to your skills or unmatched to your passions - but that's just life and everyone has to make tradeoffs. And as with my other idea, such services have to only be available to long-time residents so as to not induce free-riders.
- Not all homeless people are 'bad'. Some are well-meaning people down on their luck job-wise. Some are long-time residents who have been priced out or displaced from their locale. Some may have encountered some one-off hardship. Either way, we need cities to meaningfully identify these various cohorts precisely, so taxpayers can selectively provide support to those who deserve it. The mechanisms used for such identification need to be trustworthy. As an example of an untrustworthy process, in Seattle the city uses self-reported answers from homeless people to claim that most are from here. But most video interviews you see on TV (or anecdotally, when I've spoke to homeless people myself) indicate they are not actually from here. Those point-in-time surveys are facilitated by homeless activists, who are likely coaching people towards certain answers, which is why the only viable answer is to rely on positive identification for claims about local residency.
- Homeless folks need to accept services. Refusing services (whether by way of housing or for addiction treatment) is a non-starter. The law-abiding tax-paying residents who support a city don't have an obligation to forfeit their public spaces to transients, permanent nomads, or addicts.
- Cities need to enforce laws. They can't look the other way when property crime is committed, or when littering takes place, and so on. Or worse, they can't selectively apply laws differently to different people (see http://mynorthwest.com/1046331/construction-worker-rv-ticket... for an example). People pay taxes and elect local governments to serve their interests and support their quality of life. The trend of urban transient campers usurping public spaces is unacceptable - people work hard to make it in expensive places to enjoy those amenities, after all.
These are just some off the cuff ideas - I'm sure there is room for improving them and I'm sure there are other good ideas as well. But I do think the current direction of many of these cities - which is basically spend more and show no result for it - is the wrong answer.
It is unwise to assume that 'homeless people' are a single group that have identical traits. There are many subcategories, each with its own causing problems, attitudes, and required solution if they are to escape homelessness. Lumping them all into one category of 'not bad, not stupid, avoiding condescension' is itself condescending and reductive.
If we're to make any headway addressing the real human cost incurred by this problem, we have to have some nuance in identifying these subcategories and the individual people who occupy them.
BTW GGP put bad in quotes and that makes sense (though an editor would probably strike the quotes). I think calling someone bad is reductive, as you say.
As far as demonizing, the only thing in this article's discussion I'd demonize is KOMO's video, which I concur with Real Change  is a hit piece. I don't know enough about any commenter to judge them like that, nor do I think it's my place. So if it came off this way to GGP (I don't think I did), mea culpa.
Fair enough, you were targeting a single point specifically. Bad assumption on my part.
Why is it the case that one is entitled to pay someone less than a living wage to do work needed in a city?
I've recently observed a society full of ridiculously unimaginable wealth, with zero homeless people.
How is this possible? This wealthy society decided that any person who lives in it should be able to exist with a minimum standard of living which includes housing, no matter their situation. I believe this actually makes society more wealthy due to network effects.
Why can't the US do the same? I bet it would cost a lot less than the mess we have now.
Before anyone asks, I'm talking about Switzerland. Not without its faults, but in this area it's quite refreshing.
So cities are forced to try and patch holes where they can. But the reality is that without coordination at the federal level there's little chance of success.
It's a national problem that requires a national solution, but our response is only at local levels.
There are so many issues: drug addiction, mental health, a changing economy. It doesn't feel impossible though.
Yet in capitalist America...?
Restrictive zoning is the prohibition of creating housing capital, so it’s ironic and incorrect to blame capitalism for the housing shortages in restrictive metros such as the Bay Area. Landlordism or rentierism might be better words for the capital repression.
I mean out of these, which seems more accurate?
1) In some capitalist countries, there is a housing shortage.
2) In countries with restrictive zoning regulations, there is a housing shortage.
if you look at any economic data you will see Poverty rates where Plummeting until the "War on poverty" began and the government started trying to "solve" the problem.
Government: If you think society has problems, wait until you see our solutions
It is an excellent discussion on the causes and remedies.
The truth IMO is a continuous distribution between those two extremes. And as long as the proposed solutions only target one tail or another, no progress will be made because of the other tail being ignored. This should be a solvable problem in my opinion we are a rich country and we can afford to feed and shelter everyone.
The problem is figuring out what to do about the homeless people who refuse to accept shelter and other forms of government assistance.
What are you going to do, arrest them? That's been tried in San Francisco and it went badly. If you force them to move they will set up camp somewhere else, so that doesn't really solve anything.
A few years ago in San Jose there was a very large tent encampment called "The Jungle" with over 1000 people in it, and many of them were there by choice. They preferred the independence of living in the camp versus living in a shelter. In the camp they were free to own pets, smoke, consume alcohol, and do a bunch of other stuff that is not allowed in shelters but that most of us do in our homes on a regular basis.
Does San Francisco have shelter beds that are sitting empty? We just don't have that problem yet. The people refusing shelter are refusing to throw away all of their remaining possessions for the promise of a few nights inside and then getting kicked out.
That's true for some. But there are many who would not accept a guaranteed permanent shelter bed because they prefer the freedom of living on their own. If you won't accept the reality of that, you'll never solve the problem.
> there are many who would not accept
You're blaming people for how they would make a decision that they don't actually have. That's not dealing with reality.
Like the story says most shelters have a litany of rules that most reasonable people would find objectionable. Some even require you to attend religious services, or preform some other act.
Then you have the one that refuse pets (homeless people will not and should not have to give up their pets)
then you have a Single Sex only shelters where couples would be split
Then you have the fact that in many cities there is an extreme lack of Men's shelters as most of the funding goes to Women and Children shelters.
I could probably list a dozen or more other facts more than "the damn homeless just refuse help"
There are good programs but man, it's become fucking business.
I never said that. It is an unfair misrepresentation of my argument.
Santa Cruz made it illegal just to sleep visibly in public in an attempt to criminalize homelessness so they could hide the problem.
Stop demonizing people for not thinking it's "progressive" to let people crap on the streets and shoot up in public. I voted for Bernie, but I live in SF and I see how much money we waste by not addressing the problem directly and in more common sense ways. Just allowing criminals to take over the city and make everyone else feel unsafe is just not fair.
I've mentioned this before on this forum. At one point when I worked in the mission we watched daily a homeless encampment operate a bicycle chop shop in broad daylight from our second-floor lunch room. The police did absolutely nothing until it had been operating for well over a month. They would drive by occasionally, doing nothing more than slowing down, while a pile of stolen bicycles and bicycle parts sat next to the tents covered by nothing more than a tarp. We saw a constant flow of people coming with newly stolen bicycles and leaving with rebuilt permutations presumably to be sold on craigslist. They didn't even try to hide it.
Apparently the police stopped bothering to arrest people for petty crimes because nothing would come of it. The criminals would be immediately released back on the streets.
That has nothing to do with tolerating homelessness and some people living on the streets. We don't need to make homelessness illegal to arrest people operating a bicycle chop shop in broad daylight.
Sometimes I wonder if the city is deliberately neglecting to police crimes being committed in broad daylight independent of homelessness to further an agenda interested in criminalizing homelessness. If they can let things get so bad that everyone conflates homelessness with rampant uncrontrolled crime and destruction of the city, then it becomes much easier to garner support for such laws in a panic.
The police should do their jobs in at least enforcing the existing laws and we should be punishing criminals.
You could clean up the homeless problem in San Francisco pretty easily by simply enforcing laws and incarcerating criminals who happen to also be homeless. It's exceptionally easy when they're operating out in the oppen without even a roof and walls to hide behind.
The police don’t enforce the law because there’s no point and the chief of police tell them no to unless they are a risk to others or themselves. Then there’s no penalty to not pay the fines and even if they don’t show up to court they never get jail time, DAs rarely prosecute (unless violence occurs), juries rarely convict, and even when they do the judges here make it so the consequences are meaningless. I really don’t think it’s the cops who are the problem. Their hands are tied by the incompetent politicians we send to City Hall. Although I really don’t understand why cops don’t walk a beat or do any kind of foot patrols in the worst areas... there’s no excuse for that.
I agree, we need to enforce the law. I’d even go so far as paying another jail in a cheaper area to hold all of the criminals so that they aren’t here where it’s prhobitively expensive. Good luck finding a city that would want to deal with our criminals though.
Would you criminalize someone who’s eternally “backpacking through Europe,” metaphorically speaking?
No one should be forced to live on the streets in a country that has a large multiple of vacant homes per homeless person, but if someone makes a voluntary choice to do so, why stop them, as long as it doesn’t harm public safety? Broadly speaking, you’re allowed to do stupid things in the US, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.
Then one day a very old rusted camper appeared in front of a house 3 doors down, parked out front. No idea how it got there, and it had no car or truck attached to move it.
About 6 weeks later, a second one in front of the first. Now these were taking about 4-5 spots and the neigbors were running out of places to park.
I inquired with the local police and they told me there was nothing they could do because overnight parking was not illegal in the street and it was not resident permit parking only.
By the time I moved there were 3 or 4 campers along the street at any one time. Of course the windows would always be blocked, and the inhabitants did a good job of never really being seen. Aside from not being able to park in front of my house anymore, there was also quite a bit of associated litter, to say nothing of the stench probably from overflowing holding tanks. It also left me with an uneasy feeling of who these people were and if they posed any risk to my children, or if they might try to break in.
It’s a tragedy of the commons issue, as well as safety, and sanitation. Generally speaking when unknown people with no tie to a community can come and go as they please, it ends badly for the residents of that community.
I also don't think that you can group together /transients/ like who you describe and the /tent and tarp settlements/ that are prominent and overwhelming Seattle at this time. These only pronounce and concentrate the sanitary and fire risks, and invariably leave swathes of trash about them.
One of these tent settlements near Pioneer Square was in the middle of the city, not even near the highways, and gained some infamy and even a title name, the 'tent mansion', when it accrued a full keg. It's one thing to say we shouldn't hide problems, another to let a problem run so wild and concentrated that the surrounding area is made useless for other public use in the process.
Once you get someone into a home, it is vastly easier to help them stabilize their other issues (mental health and drug abuse among them). Housing first works, and it’s been proven to work time and again.
I don't think it's that simple. This isn't a fixed constant set of people living on the street that you find homes for and that's the end of the problem.
It's more of a revolving door; there's a constant supply replacing whoever gets off the street.
I think what the article mentioned about Seattle is actually a reasonable approach:
Seattle, meanwhile, has allowed some tent cities to operate as de facto communities —
long-term, regulated, even with phone numbers and addresses.
Currently, there is an SF/Seattle style camp that has sprung up on the entrance into town. The current city council is made up of a majority that sides more with homeless uses than the concerns of others including families. The first 5 (bi weekly) city council meetings of the year have been stuck on what to do with this camp that has sprung up (there were others before it).
The reason this topic has dominated is due to the current council make up. The head of county health is on public record stating that the county hands out between 3 and 600 needles each day for a camp of between 100 and 150 people. This does not account for a "volunteer" group that hands out other needles things like Narcan.
City staff has been working towards "other locations" for "transitional camps". During a recent presentation one of the pro-camp council people is on record asking "as we move people out of the camp to more permanent housing, what happens to those that move in filling those vacancies. In essence, implying he has an expectation to handle every Tom, Dick, and Harry that comes through there.
People who have "met with the campers" (including camp members themselves) indicate people don't want services or housing. Specifically the demand is for "a space for a low barrier camp that is private and allows for self-organization within the camp". In otherwords, those that have spoken and (campers and representatives) are demanding something outside what the city and county are wanting to provide.
In reality, the working homeless, those trying to make it (including homeless students) aren't in these camps. They are parking in quiet neighborhoods, camping in areas away from people, etc. I've talked with many at a coffee shop (no longer open) over the last half dozen years.
Many are right to point towards the main issue being drugs and mental illness. (The Seattle Dying Video is spot on). The problem here in Santa Cruz is that most of the "homeless advocates" and the 30+ non-profits (why so many for a city of 60k) addressing "homelessness" are perpetuating the current lifestyle of enablement. There are those that do get help and move up and out.
A recent, newly minted "advocate", is living in an RV and was living near her parent's house in Saratoga. She was requested to moved along and magically landed in Santa Cruz. She is one of those engaging with the camp, but has also made demands on the city that they provide her a space to park safely in her RV. She literally has been in Santa Cruz for less than 6 months. Oh, and has a couple of small children.
Why? The city of Santa Cruz is really good at providing a bunch of freebies to those that want them. It also has a city staff that is pretty incompetent and tends to lose when they get sued. Further, yes they are the county seat, but they have dug themselves a hole over the course of decades and the county is right in not helping the city dig themselves out.
There was even an article recently in SFGate where Berkeley is moving RV dwellers along (Sorry side tangent).
> I've talked with many at a coffee shop (no longer open) over the last half dozen years.
The Perg I presume? I spent many days working from that place with my car parked for free in the adjacent now-pay parking lot.
Santa Cruz has changed a lot in the last ~6 years.
I used to visit regularly from SF, practically every week, when there was still free parking downtown with The Perg and LOGOS used books to patronize. Nowadays there's practically nothing there of interest to me personally, not worth paying parking for, on top of the long drive anyways. The last few times I made the drive down there the high point was the strawberries from Swanton farms en route.
It's more than just an assault on the homeless. The city has transformed quite a bit in general. Much of its hippy/artsy/punk culture has diminished and everything is trying to be more sterile and bourgeoisie IMHO.
LOGOS and The Perg closing marked the end of an era.
The city is in a spiral of it's own creation - lax policies and pretty lax enforcement of violent crime and "hard" drug use (coupled with county policies of no services and releasing them back into the community) are pushing people away from the commercial areas. Residential areas are gentrifying, yes, but with people that are busy somewhere else most of the week (or potentially second homes).
At the same time, a vocal minority is insisting, as I mentioned, on solving all the worlds problems without any expectation of rule of law, decency, etc.
This isn't sustainable.
However, it has engendered a significant non-profit industry base that work towards "solving homeless issues", but there is a lot of overhead, overlap, and little consensus on how to move forward. When there is a request for accountability (for renewal of funding), nearly all of them scream bloody murder because that means rules for them.
It's not a healthy community.
You can earn the same income and spend the same dollar amount over your life, but if you build up a buffer of 6 month's expenses, you are no longer chronically broke.
This is what I was taught at an early age. Why is this advice not more commonly followed? It's not about being rich or poor or having a high or low income. The advice is truly agnostic to those issues. It's about shifting consumption over the course of your life so that you always have a buffer.
Edit: I guess truth hurts.