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Massachusetts Hates on Homeless Families

Josie Raymond
End Homelessness

Starting April 1, Massachusetts will deny shelter to homeless families through a number of draconian new rules. If families have been evicted or left public housing "without good cause" in the last three years, they're out. If they have earned above the poverty level for three straight months, they're out (the current rule is six months). If they don't work 30 hours per week and save 30 percent of their income, they're out. If they are absent from a shelter for two nights in a row, they're out. If a family's only children are between 18 and 21 and aren't disabled or in high school, they're out.

(more after the jump)

Massachusetts is sheltering more families than ever before this month, 2,700 in all, which makes it a strange time to introduce regulations limiting who can get shelter. The rules will save the state an infinitesimal amount of money over the next two years -- $11 million out of a $28 billion budget -- 0.0004 percent. A bigger goal is to push families out of the state's 59 shelters so that families who've been waiting in motels paid for by the state (about 25 percent of all the homeless families) can move in. (Does no one see the coming cycle of being pushed out of shelters, struggling, winding up in motels and then back in shelters?)

In what was either a serious judgment lapse or a display of her naivete, the commissioner of the Department of Transitional Assistance, Julia E. Kehoe, told the Boston Globe, "Given our limited resources, we wanted to encourage people to find housing or stay where they are, rather than encouraging them to come into the system." I assure you, Ms. Kehoe, no one comes to a shelter because it sounds like fun.

Meanwhile, in Miami, the powers that be are considering banning feeding the homeless, because it's too messy. A $300 fine could be instated for doing so.  

And now Seattle

Homeless advocates denounce proposed panhandling crackdown

By Vanessa Ho

Homeless advocates swiftly denounced a new anti-panhandling ordinance proposed by Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess, who floated the idea of $50 fines for aggressive panhandlers in a package of proposals designed to quell downtown street crime and disorder.

Burgess announced the ordinance Thursday along with a call for more cops, foot patrols, outreach efforts and housing for homeless people. Many downtown merchants and residents -- tired of increasing crime, drug dealing and harassing panhandlers -- cheered the ideas.

But John Fox, coordinator of the Seattle Displacement Coalition - an advocacy group for low-income and homeless people - said the ordinance is so broad that could end up targeting Real Change vendors and Salvation Army volunteers.

This is all starting to look like new ways to generate revenue via fines. Fine people for feeding the homeless, fine people for panhandling. Well, all well and good as long as we don't raise taxes on the rich, eh?

Originally posted to The Miep Channel on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 01:34 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  oh, I meant to call this (7+ / 0-)

    "hating on the homeless," but I forget and got this piece screwed up in the 2:30 backup and it reverted a bit. Sorry, Massachusetts. It's not all about you. Usually you are the good guys. We'll not discuss Scott.

    "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

    by Miep on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 01:45:52 AM PST

  •  America does not have poor people... (6+ / 0-)

    Only lazy people exist.

    Kinda like the way old people are shipped off to folks home where nobody can see them, eh?

    If you want to change these new rules, get more poor to vote. Odds are they'll vote GOP cause they love their FREEDOM more than their lives.

  •  I was about to post: "What are we?" (8+ / 0-)

    But then I thought, "wait a minute--that's a generic phrase, but somehow, that sounds very familiar."  Finally, I realized:

    "Can I ask a question, that I've been wondering about for a long time?

    Who are we?"

    -- Michael Moore, "Sicko"

    "Arguments are to be avoided. They are always vulgar, and are often convincing." -- Oscar Wilde

    by Villagejonesy on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 01:49:59 AM PST

  •  while we're at it (5+ / 0-)

    Haiti to urge homeless to return to ruined houses

    PORT-AU-PRINCE - Haiti's prime minister Friday approved a plan to urge those left homeless by last month's quake to leave squalid camps and return to their destroyed neighborhoods if possible, officials said.

    But the plan faces major hurdles, with residents at one of the largest camps — in the Champ de Mars park across from the ravaged National Palace — warning they will not be able to go back to their rubble-strewn areas anytime soon.

    The new strategy is in part due to the urgent situation the country faces with some 1.2 million homeless and the heavy rain season approaching in the coming weeks, threatening to turn overcrowded camps into health nightmares.

    How'd you like to be urged to return to your destroyed neighborhoods, as a best possible option?

    Of course, come hurricane season, if things go poorly for Haiti, tent's aren't gonna cut it.

    "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

    by Miep on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 02:23:28 AM PST

    •  I've been REALLY concerned about that (5+ / 0-)

      I mean, with 100,000 people possibly dead, and hundreds of thousands homeless, they couldn't possibly cobble together 500,000 houses, or FEMA trailers for that matter, for Haitians to sleep in, not for a long time to come.  What on earth will become of them all?

      "Arguments are to be avoided. They are always vulgar, and are often convincing." -- Oscar Wilde

      by Villagejonesy on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 02:25:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  um I think there are a lot more than 100,000 dead (6+ / 0-)

        and more like over a million homeless.

        Yes, they're fucked. What's helpful to look at is why they're fucked, the history of Haiti.

        This didn't just happen all by itself.

        I especially appreciated RL Miller's essay here, right after the earthquake, wherein she raged at some length about "WHERE WAS THE REBAR???"

        No rebar for the outsourced slaves. They die; there are always going to be more where they came from.

        No biggie.

        You do see (I hope) that the response here to the catastrophe of the earthquake in Haiti has a lot of potential to be world-changing?

        Stuff like that doesn't just happen every day. People here changed a lot of stuff with that - with our donations, with our research, with our ongoing teach-in about Haiti.

        That was one of the very best things I've ever seen happen anywhere, and I've only been hanging around here for a year and a half.

        Daily Kos Discovers Haiti. Well, how about that? Effing great.

        "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

        by Miep on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 02:33:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Haiti history: slavery,US occupation,dictatorship (5+ / 0-)

          This short article by Naomi Klein is fascinating. Amazing how the rich see the world.

          § The Slavery Debt. When Haitians won their independence from France in 1804, they would have had every right to claim reparations from the powers that had profited from three centuries of stolen labor. France, however, was convinced that it was Haitians who had stolen the property of slave owners by refusing to work for free. So in 1825, with a flotilla of war ships stationed off the Haitian coast threatening to re-enslave the former colony, King Charles X came to collect: 90 million gold francs--ten times Haiti's annual revenue at the time. With no way to refuse, and no way to pay, the young nation was shackled to a debt that would take 122 years to pay off.

          Call it a 'Plastic Democracy'© if that makes you feel good. I call it Fascism.

          by CitizenOfEarth on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 04:11:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Chomsky on (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The Tragedy of Haiti"

          all you need to know...

          don't always believe what you think...

          by claude on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 10:13:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The potential (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I do see that our response to Haiti has the potential to be world-changing.  Although one soldier, presuming s/he really was one, posted on Youtube that "I didn't join the army to deliver food to no n-----," I do feel very encouraged by the fact that our military has been turned into a force for good on occasions like these.  We're too often the aggressor, for cynical motives, and too seldom have any justifiable reason for attacking whatever country it is this month.  I would love for our military to become a disaster response team, if we must spend a trillion bucks every two years, baseline, plus half a billion for the wars.

          As to becoming world-changing, it is already a world-changing exchange of information and money, which the internet has made possible.  But I confess that it's always frustrating to observe disaster responders entering a swordfight with wet cardboard.  And it's frustrating to feel that all we can do is exchange information, and move money, when something like this happens.  Isn't there policy we can really enact?  Isn't there real action we can take, that will really have an effect, to help people where it counts?

          I wonder if we could petition President Obama to convert a significant military force to a permanent disaster-response team for the world?  It could be his Peace Corps initiative.

          "Arguments are to be avoided. They are always vulgar, and are often convincing." -- Oscar Wilde

          by Villagejonesy on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 12:46:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Couldn't the able bodied start clearing the (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Stranded Wind, pantherq, Miep

        rubble and sorting out any reusable material to build new homes.

        Look at what happened in German cities and towns that were destroyed during WWII. It wasn't all cleared with earth movers, etc.

        Progressives will win when the country becomes Progressive.

        by auapplemac on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 03:03:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've donated to Mercy Corps (5+ / 0-)

          and one of the things they reported was that they were going down there and hiring the locals to clear rubble, which was heartening. The last thing they needed there was more people being imported to use up food & water, etc; during a disaster, instead of trying to work with people who already live there, as human resources, who dearly need sustenance, including money.

          But it is easier said than done, to talk about using rubble from poorly constructed buildings, to build homes.

          I hope this year's hurricane season will spare Haiti, especially.

          "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

          by Miep on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 03:09:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  200,000 - 300,000 dead is latest I believe n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Villagejonesy, Miep

        Even if 100,000, a scale impossible to comprehend.

        This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

        by AllisonInSeattle on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 11:41:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  We could have stacks of Geodesic domes ready (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Villagejonesy, Miep

        to ship to disaster areas. Stacks of struts, stacks of panels.

        But we don't.

        I would guess they'd make it through hurricanes, seems the right shape for it.

        This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

        by AllisonInSeattle on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 11:42:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  oh, and here from Charlotte (5+ / 0-)

    Chronic homeless costing Charlotte millions

    Charlotte has nearly double the national average of homeless people visiting hospitals more than three times a year - and experts say it's costing the community millions.

    That fact is one of many revelations from a ground-breaking survey conducted this week by the Urban Ministry Center.

    Specifically, the effort sought out the "chronically homeless" - those who live on the streets for more than a year or at least four times in three years.

    "We should be alarmed," sez Kathy Izard. Good for you, Kathy. You rock.

    "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

    by Miep on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 02:27:14 AM PST

  •  I fear it's going to get worse (9+ / 0-)

    The US has always had one of the most miserly social service systems of any industrialized nation. After Clinton made the Republican dream come true and replaced the already inadequate AFDC family welfare program with TANF, a blatantly punitive joke designed to shame the poor more than to help them avoid destitution, it's all been steadily getting worse.

    Has anyone ever noticed that there are some people who become not only annoyed and angry but even explosively furious when they find themselves in proximity to a wailing, crying, shrieking newborn baby who cannot be readily consoled? I think generally these are the same people who react with hate and extreme rage when forced to face the poor and homeless; both trigger buried emotions and repressed feelings of their own rejection and neglect, their powerlessness and vulnerability, and the fear that they themselves could one day be scorned and ignored and demonized and utterly alone.

    Hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars are being funneled to the Pentagon for perpetual war as growing numbers of our own citizens face ever more brutal treatment at home. It's a tragic situation and so very, very sad.


    "Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state"--Noam Chomsky

    by mojada on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 02:30:59 AM PST

    •  excellent comment, thank you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      goinsouth, Stranded Wind, commonmass

      We should not, I think, ever count on the government, though we should always focus to some extent on how to have power over it.

      What's more important, though, is figuring out how to transform and generally take over the economy. Because that's where the power is. The government tends to be rather puppeted by money, alas (with some rare, salient, and admirable exceptions).

      Yes, we are way behind as a nation, and it's interesting to consider that, in the light of the fact that we are a relatively young one, that has been eating up its resources with impunity, and pretending that this could all go on forever. Now we have moved on into working on those of other nations. Surprise, surprise.

      There are other ways to do it. There is a great piece in the latest Harper's about Germany's economic system. They are much more worker-oriented, and it's working. Whether you believe it's possible to sustain such as a model for other countries or not, it's pretty damned interesting to read. It IS good to have worker representation on boards of directors of companies, by gum!

      "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

      by Miep on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 02:40:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We ARE the Government. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        claude, Stranded Wind, pantherq, Miep

        While I understand your point, in the US WE ARE the Government, if we will take it. Pardon me for being a bit of a Marxist, but where does Government or Capital come from? I would say those who produce these things, often for far lower wages than they should be paid, so that Capitalists can exploit this labor and in the US today, invest it in crazy schemes to make more money for themselves. Sometimes, these crazy schemes bring down entire economies, even world economies.

        I look at the talking heads on Sunday morning "round tables" in the US and think what Lenin said, "The intellectuals are not the brains of a nation, rather, its SHIT". This sounds crude, but Lenin was right, if not a bit crude.

        I have never, ever, been paid what I am worth and I have been to University and beyond. Lenin was right on some things, wrong on others, and in the middle, it was muddle.

        Jesus used to live in my heart, until I upped the rent. I think He moved to Dorchester. If you see Him, tell Him He owes me 35 dollars for a parking ticket.

        by commonmass on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 03:31:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  my point is more that (0+ / 0-)

          we can't count on any elected officials to do it for us...we have to make them do it. We are, as a country, still too lost in the idea that if we elect the right people, everything will be fine.

          "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

          by Miep on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 12:34:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  El Paso, TX, homeless vets (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stranded Wind, pantherq

    from the Silver City NM Sun News

    EL PASO— When Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki was in El Paso last week, he said, "A year ago, there were 131,000 veterans sleeping on the streets of this very powerful and very wealthy country. I don't have a good reason to explain why."

    Unfortunately, that's not a shocking statement. We see them all the time. The trouble is, the problem of homeless veterans has been with us for some time. The surprise should be that more hasn't been done to fix the problem.

    There can be a number of reasons that drive veterans to the streets, including alcoholism, drug addiction and mental health problems. But one overwhelming reason is that Veterans Affairs in particular and the government in general haven't been doing enough to address the problem, which has been with us since at least the Vietnam era.

    "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

    by Miep on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 02:44:04 AM PST

  •  homeless children do need backpacks (5+ / 0-)

    Backpacks are essential if you are child, and homeless

    Special to The Press-Enterprise

    A new partnership with Feed Our Children has led to a gift of about 1,900 backpacks filled with school supplies, hygiene items and food for homeless students in San Bernardino County.

    The San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools distributed the backpacks earlier this month to school districts in the county. The backpacks will be given to students who have been identified as homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

    Homeless students are constantly needing backpacks, hygiene products, school supplies and shoes, said Brenda Dowdy, coordinator of the county schools' homeless education program. Some students need three to four backpacks a year because they are lugging the backpacks around, she said, and students in shelters or transitional homes need the most help.

    Oh, good. This will help these kids get lots of practice at being homeless.

    Best to start 'em up early, peoples!

    Yeah, I know. Better than nothing. Not as good as actually having places to live, though.

    "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

    by Miep on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 02:48:14 AM PST

  •  I am a native of the Commonwealth (11+ / 0-)

    of Massachusetts and am underemployed and facing a fine from the Commonwealth for not having PAYED ENOUGH TO PRIVATE INSURANCE COMPANIES in premiums. I just got layed off. I cannot qualify for anything because I work in the non-profit sector. I'm falling through the cracks, and am begging my oil company to keep my heat on, even though my credit with them is fairly decent.

    There's a lot I like about Massachusetts. And, there's a lot I dislike. Mostly, the "business model" health insurance mandate and the utter unwillingness to make it truly affordable for people like me who fall into the cracks between those who qualfiy and those who don't.

    Let us not forget that it was a free-marketeer who put us into this mess: Mitt Romney and conservative Dems who make the Cabots and the Lodges look liberal.

    Jesus used to live in my heart, until I upped the rent. I think He moved to Dorchester. If you see Him, tell Him He owes me 35 dollars for a parking ticket.

    by commonmass on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 02:52:34 AM PST

    •  fair enough (5+ / 0-)

      How idols do crumble.

      We are SO behind with all of this. We have so much to learn, as a country.

      Assuming we even manage to stay one.

      "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

      by Miep on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 02:57:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I know - we're supposed to be so liberal (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      here, but our State Govt has made some incredibly bad decisions. Romney cut  funding for substance abuse treatment that saved my life. As a result of the temporary help the state offered me, I was able to turn my life around, avoid homelessness, become a tax-paying worker, and then a small business owner who created jobs for others.

      When one of my employees was in a situation similar to mine, she was unable to get nto a similar. She also had co-existing mental health issues complicating her ability to function in the world but never got the help she needed.

      Point is, I think the Commonwealth's short term investment in me at a time of vulnerability was worth it in the long term. It broke a cycle of addiction in my family that goes back for generations.

  •  New Jersey bikers feed homeless (5+ / 0-)

    Motorcycle club feeds the homeless in Lakewood

    "We already gave over the holidays, you know, and there's spring around the corner, and here's February that everyone forgets,'' said Rudi Gaines, 48, a volunteer firefighter in Lakewood.

    So it's a day in this month that he and his 14 biker buddies have chosen for the second year in a row to shower the township's homeless will more than 200 Styrofoam boxes brimming with pork ribs, turkey, rice, green beans and London broil steak.

    Normally these bikers congregate out of their shared love for full-throttle rides to New York's Bear Mountain or Baltimore's Inner Harbor. But the members of the Zero 2 Sixty motorcycle club's South Jersey chapter gathered this weekend sans bikes in the kitchen of the Greater Bethel Church of God on Martin Luther King Drive to serve meals to others in need.

    Juwann Swint, 11, was a bit more honest on why he was there. ""Our mom made us,'' he said, yawning.

    "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

    by Miep on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 03:17:45 AM PST

  •  I'm going to sleep now (5+ / 0-)

    I'll check back in this afternoon or so.

    "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

    by Miep on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 03:22:24 AM PST

  •  impending disaster (6+ / 0-)

    There are estimates that somewhere between one sixth and one third of all housing will go empty in the coming years due to peak oil - houses that are too far away from anything, houses that are too expensive to heat and cool, houses let go because employment is lost.

     We're facing something far worse than the Great Depression - this is likely a structural change in our economy as dramatic as the Industrial Revolution.

     For the United States this probably means a Soviet style crash. Dmitry Orlov and Bruce Judson have explored this idea a bit in Reinventing Collapse and It Can Happen Here.

    "Not dead ... yet. Still have ... things to do." -Liet Kynes

    by Stranded Wind on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 06:11:19 AM PST

    •  We're facing a great deal of downsizing (0+ / 0-)

      and that goes against the American grain in a big way. "Science" is supposed to fix it all and make a global population of twelve billion sustainable, etc.

      Not that we are real long on investing in pure science or anything.

      "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

      by Miep on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 12:37:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Burgess is nuts. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What else can you say?

    Except, of course, that he might win with this thing.

    This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

    by AllisonInSeattle on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 11:38:06 AM PST

    •  inventing enemies is a very old tactic (0+ / 0-)

      for rallying people. A lot of my agenda with disseminating homeless news is to fight the ongoing demonization of the disenfranchised; the conservative viewpoint that they must have done something to deserve it.

      I saw a piece the other day - can't find it right now - about some minister somewhere I think? who was recommending homeless people shoplift, because it would help avoid people being driven to violent crime, etc., and that they should try to shoplift from big chains, not small indie businesses. Maybe it was in one of the magazines? How's that for thinking outside the box?

      "To be human is no solution, anymore than ceasing to be so." - E. M. Cioran

      by Miep on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 12:42:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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