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Just the Numbers

By jjayson in Op-Ed
Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 10:51:04 AM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

In the United States, 3.5 million people will experience homelessness this year. Forty-five percent of them will be employed. One-third of the families will be turned away from shelters. This is part of a housing disorder that has been growing since the 1980s. In Boston from 1983-1995, shelter beds rose from 972 to 3,362 -- a 246% increase. The city's annual homeless census recorded a 40% jump from 1988-1996. These numbers continue to climb all across the nation. In Minnesota, the daily number of homeless shelters has quadrupled; in a similar time frame the Los Angeles shelter population soared from 3,495 beds to over 10,800. The number of homeless in Wisconsin state-subsidized shelters more than doubled from 11,000 to 24,600.


The number of beds is cities is severely lacking, too. In Los Angeles people overshot available beds by anywhere from 5:1 to 8:1, and compounding this problem are the 46% of shelters that charge fees. In Seattle there are almost 2 people for each available bed, and in a one-night survey conducted in 1996, 919 people were turned away from shelters. In Virginia 94,027 requested shelter during the year while 40,413 of them were turned away.

It is well known that homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked: in the last 20 years, house prices have risen while poverty has risen, and homelessness has risen in step with them. In 1997, 35.6 million (13.3% of the total US population) people lived below the poverty line of about $8,000 for a single person and even 41% of them lived in extreme poverty -- at or below half the poverty line.

The area median income (AMI) is a measure of the average income over a local area -- when compared against the housing wage, a measure of what hourly pay a person needs to afford rent, it can tell the story. The federal government defines affordable housing as housing that costs less than 30% of the household income. In 2001, those earning less than 30% of their local AMI had an average hourly wage of just $8.37, which is only 57% of the national housing wage.

This is the fourth year in a row that in no state does minimum wage provide enough for a two bedroom rental -- the standard that family figures are measured by. This can only happen in 26 counties, which accounts for less than 0.2% of renters. A quarter of all counties have a housing wage twice the prevailing minimum wage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2001, over 2.2 million workers earned federal minimum wage or less, and over 60% of those earning the minimum wage were heads of families.

From 2001 to 2002 the housing wage grew 5%, and in 2000-2002 it grew a staggering 18%. Compare this with inflation for 2001 being 1.6% and an increase in the housing consumer price index of 2.8%. The national median two-bedroom housing wage for 2002 is now $14.66, three times the federal minimum wage.

The common myth is that these people should just get jobs. However, in 1994 Virginia, 48% of those in shelters were working in some way and 35% were working full-time. In Atlanta in 1986, 11%-15% of the shelter population was working; that number grew to in 1997 when 23%-37% of those asking for shelter were working but unable to afford the housing they were living in or just lost.

A Housing and Urban Development (HUD) study showed a new all time high: 5.3 million unassisted very low-income households had "worst case needs" for assistance in 1995. That is an 8% increase over 1989. Rents are increasing faster than incomes for those bottom fifth earning households. Many of these families cannot afford housing, yet they make too much for federal assistance programs. This is especially true in high rent areas such as California and New York. Many families are forced to live in cars, return to abusive situations, or split-up to find shelter. Between 1991-1995, median rental costs paid by low-income renters rose 21% while low-income renters increased, too. By 1995 the number of low-income renters outstripped low cost rentals by 5.4 million -- the largest gap ever.

The number of rental units is also steadily decreasing. From 1973-1993, 2.2 million low-income units evaporated. They were either abandoned or closed from neglect, converted into condominiums or more expensive apartments, or became unaffordable because of increasing costs. Each year 90,000 affordable housing units are lost due to demolition or sale of public housing or Section 8 housing -- the two most beneficial programs the federal government offers.

Federally assisted housing has come into disarray because of lack of funding. Clinton's Priority: Home! program in 1994 was quickly lost under the desk. His FY1996-FY1998 budgets continued cuts and elimination of Section 8 certificates. Bush's FY2003 budget would decrease the public housing capital fund from $2.84 billion to $2.43 billion. The Senate Appropriations Committee looks like they will still budget at a loss of $60 million. The cuts from the capital fund are intended to modernize run-down units and for capital improvements in public housing developments to suspend the need for their shutdown.

[[ Statistics Taken From:
   Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
   National Low Income Housing Coalition
   U.S. Census Bureau
   National Coalition for the Homeless
   Beyond Shelter ]]

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Related Links
o Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
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o U.S. Census Bureau
o National Coalition for the Homeless
o Beyond Shelter
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Display: Sort:
Just the Numbers | 86 comments (70 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
pinko (1.44 / 29) (#7)
by turmeric on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:13:23 AM EST

look, homeless people have chosen a lifestyle. it does not good to throw money at them, they will just spend it on drugs or alcohol. you say they are "working" , well collecting cans or playing solitaire at a desk is not "working". these people need to get up off their asses and get a job. it is nobodys fault if they dont except their own.

Next diary poll (4.42 / 7) (#9)
by RyoCokey on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:22:27 AM EST

Which turmeric do you like best?

A) Retarded liberal turmeric

B) Pathetic Republitroll turmeric



"There is no reason why we should not have peaceful relations with the rest of the world if we cease playing the role of Meddlesome Mattie." - Sen. Art
[ Parent ]
Pitiful. (3.33 / 3) (#15)
by Hobbes on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 01:04:55 AM EST

Put a little more effort into the next one, okay?

Okay!

:P

++++++
As bad as I am, I'm proud of the fact that I'm worse than I seem.
[ Parent ]

Beds in homeless shelters vs. actual homeless (4.00 / 4) (#8)
by Korimyr the Rat on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:17:11 AM EST

 Could the rise in the number of homeless shelters and beds within them perhaps be attributed to more awareness of the problem and more services being provided?

 I'd say that homeless people sleeping in the street are even more homeless than people sleeping in homeless shelters.

--
"Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'

Look at the rest of the figures (4.66 / 3) (#11)
by jjayson on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:24:30 AM EST

That could be an interpretation if they other figures didn't show such a rise in poverty and decrease in afortable housing. It is a good idea to look at the problem holistically and find the story in the statistics, not just look at individual numbers.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
yes, but the real question is... (2.25 / 8) (#14)
by pb on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:52:24 AM EST

What percentage of these homeless people have cell phones?
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
Depends (4.00 / 2) (#20)
by Rande on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 06:46:40 AM EST

On what job they are looking for.
I was trying for an IT job, but as it was taking a while, I decided against rented accommodation as I might have to pick up and move at the drop of a hat. And yes, a mobile phone was required for me to even get interviews, and I landed the job I did get (after a few months hunting) over the mobile.
I gather prepay mobiles haven't taken off in USA?
Sure, you have to watch your stuff whilst living in hostels (about 20 people per room), but for convenience and value for money for temporary accommodation I have no complaints.
Just stick my money and phone under my dirty socks and noones going to dare search under them ;)

[ Parent ]
homeless people and cell phones (4.50 / 4) (#38)
by Shren on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:19:02 PM EST

Are you kidding? Cell phones, if you can afford one, are a boon to anyone in a no-income situation looking for a job. You have to have a stable point of contact to put on your resume. You're homeless. What are you going to put? A shelter? That will get you hired real quick. You might have friends you can stay with - but the surest way to piss them off is to be there all the time and clog thier line with your job search stuff. I had a friend who was homeless for a while - he stayed with different friends each for short times to avoid losing any of them. He managed to keep all his friends, but where could you reach him?

If you have a cell phone to put on your resume, you can be reached. When you are reached, you can sound professional, knowledgable, and ready to work, even if you're dressed in castoffs, haven't showered in days, and are looking for newspapers to sleep under. If you get an interview, you can clean up somewhere - a shelter, perhaps - and go.

Without a cell phone, prospective employers have trouble reaching you - which is more than enough to have the propsective employer reading a different resume.

[ Parent ]

or how about cars, and tvs (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by Wah on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:27:27 PM EST

cell phone $20/mo.

house payment $1000/mo.

I realize I'm reading into your argument (having seen something similar before) but you are comparing apples to apple trees, hardly an accurate comparison.

Yea, I get the humor aspect, but well, just wanted to bring it up. :-)
--
The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress. -- Joseph Joubert. ...
[ Parent ]

sure, why not... (none / 0) (#44)
by pb on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:57:34 PM EST

The point is, I don't have a cell phone because it's an added expense.  And I might get one if I had a use for it, and I thought it would only be $20/mo.--because I could afford it.

For a while, when I didn't have a car (and couldn't afford one...) I rode the bus to work.  And I saw a lot of people that (if not homeless) were rather poor... and spent a lot of time yakking away on their cell phones.

If I were that poor, I think I'd just live without having to talk to people every minute while I'm riding the bus to get my welfare check to pay for my cell phone... Maybe I could get by with using pay phones (hey, it's even cheaper than the bus), if possible using the phone at home or at work, or asking people "can I use your phone?" when I need to make a quick call.

I mean, come on, people, phones are already everywhere.  They have been for a long time; you don't actually need one in your back pocket.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

If you don't have a place to live... (5.00 / 1) (#47)
by joshsisk on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 01:41:04 PM EST

... how is a company going to call you back to request an interview? A pay phone somewhere? Most of them don't even allow incoming calls. If you have a phone number they can reach you on, you have a much better chance of getting a job.
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
usually, (none / 0) (#58)
by pb on Sat Nov 09, 2002 at 02:53:06 AM EST

What you do is you go to the place you want to work at and fill out an application.  Obviously, having a phone number could be a plus here, or you could just go there and bug them every once in a while.

My point is, cell phones are often an unnecessary expense, especially depending on how you use them.  But I would also be interested in seeing the statistics.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

what sort of jobs are _you_ going for? (none / 0) (#61)
by Rande on Sat Nov 09, 2002 at 07:24:19 AM EST

I've never gotten a job by turning up and asking for an application form. None of the places I've worked would even have such a form. What they want is a CV/resume sent to HR by post or email with a daytime telephone number so that they can call you back if they are interested. Send out about 50 of them and you might get 5 interviews and a job.

[ Parent ]
well, let's see... (none / 0) (#70)
by pb on Sun Nov 10, 2002 at 02:11:23 PM EST

What jobs do you think the average homeless person is qualified for?  What do you think their education level is?  I think that for the vast majority of jobs these people would seek, you wouldn't need a cell phone.

For example, working at a grocery store or a packaging store, driving a bus or delivering the morning paper or the mail.

Also, in general bugging people a little when you want a job does a lot better than just passively sending out resumes.  (this assumes you actually want that job)
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

You can get a cell phone for less... (none / 0) (#74)
by joshsisk on Mon Nov 11, 2002 at 11:28:33 AM EST

than a regular phone costs.
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
maybe. (none / 0) (#75)
by pb on Mon Nov 11, 2002 at 12:21:20 PM EST

I suppose in both cases it depends on your plan and your calling patterns, as well as how long you're locked into said plan.  For example, from Cingular, you could pay anywhere from $30/month to  $200/month depending on how many minutes you want.  Obviously you'll pay more if you go over that many minutes.  There's also a $36 activation fee.  And if you cancel early, you'll owe them $240, and possibly an extra $150 if they subsidized your equipment.

Whereas you could expect local phone service to cost you $20-$30/month + whatever your long distance plan is.  It might also cost something to get a phone line in the first place, but most people have that already.  Of course all the carriers have tons of different plans, for both regular phone service and cell phones.

I know people who try to replace their regular phones with their cell phones--I wouldn't want to do that because cell phones aren't as reliable and they don't sound as clear as regular phones.  (which is sad--regular phones have horrible audio quality as is, but at least they can transmit speech clearly...)

I suppose, however, if you don't have access to a regular phone at all, or you travel a lot, a cell phone might be worth having.  But by and large, it's a luxury item.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

I used to have a prepaid cell phone. (none / 0) (#76)
by joshsisk on Mon Nov 11, 2002 at 01:19:48 PM EST

I paid no start up fee, just had to pay for the phone. Then I bought cards for my minutes. The rates were similar to regular calling cards that you would use with a pay phone. No monthly fee.

(I had to do this because at that point I didn't have a credit history yet. After a few months, they let me switch over to the regular plan.)

My local phone service would cost $30 a month before fees. I don't have a land line in my house, though - I have a cellphone. For me the no-extra-charge long distance (and free long distance on weekends and evenings) was the kicker - my family lives in another state, so I probably save literally thousands of dollars a year calling them after 8pm and on weekends for free.

Also, I didn't renew my contract after a year (they try to make you think you have to, but you don't) so now I can quit at any time.
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

cool (none / 0) (#77)
by pb on Mon Nov 11, 2002 at 01:39:13 PM EST

When did you get the prepaid cell phone?

I've heard of those, but didn't think they were that common or widespread...  Maybe it's just that the phone companies aren't pushing them.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

this was like 1999? maybe 2000. (none / 0) (#81)
by joshsisk on Mon Nov 11, 2002 at 04:04:25 PM EST

The company was called "US Unwired". Sprint bought them. I have no clue whether you can still get the prepaid service or not.

The only bad thing about it is the "refill" cards you bought expired after some certain amount of time.
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

Post hoc, much? (3.66 / 6) (#18)
by seebs on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 02:22:27 AM EST

That things have been correlated doesn't show that one causes the other.

So far, the best known solution to unaffordable housing is simple; let people build "unaffordable" housing, and then let them lower the prices if people can't afford it, because otherwise, they don't sell it.

Note that, last I heard, "affordable housing" was a formally defined term of art, such that a $50k house in a poor neighborhood might be deemed "unaffordable" while a $500k house on a lake might be deemed "affordable"; it was, at least in the past, defined solely in terms of how much of the expected income of a resident would be needed to pay for it.  Thus, if what you really want to talk about is "cheap housing" - housing that people with very little income at all can afford - you may be better off ignoring the "affordable" numbers, which are subject to changes in demographics in a way that makes them totally useless...  If a few rich people move into a neighborhood, the housing hasn't suddenly become "affordable" in any meaningful way.


Housing crisis is well know to cause homelessness. (5.00 / 3) (#34)
by jjayson on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 11:50:22 AM EST

The housing crisis and homelessness does not fall into the post hoc fallacy because the soaring low-income rents is concurrent with homeless and is well documented to be the chief cause of homelesses. This documentation comes from homeless surveys. Most of these homeless you don't even see. They are families living in their cars or temporarily iving in shelters. Half of the homeless population is now children.

So far, the best known solution to unaffordable housing is simple; let people build "unaffordable" housing, and then let them lower the prices if people can't afford it, because otherwise, they don't sell it.
No. That is known to not work. People don't want to build low and very low income housing. They want to build condos and apartments that bring in real money. Evern year 90,000 low-income units are taken off the market. There just isn't enough housing to go around anymore and the problem is just getting worse. You can't use your capitalist dogma to change that.

If you read the story, you would know I did define affordable housing. It is defined as housing that can be rented at 30% of salary. Since there are many people earning minimum wage that would be about $200 per month. Since 60% of those earning the federal minimum wage are the heads of households, in no state can you rent a 2 bedroom place for that change. You can't get even s 0 bedroom studio in most of the country.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

why 2 bedrooms? (none / 0) (#64)
by CompUComp on Sat Nov 09, 2002 at 01:47:10 PM EST

If you read the story, you would know I did define affordable housing. It is defined as housing that can be rented at 30% of salary. Since there are many people earning minimum wage that would be about $200 per month. Since 60% of those earning the federal minimum wage are the heads of households, in no state can you rent a 2 bedroom place for that change. You can't get even s 0 bedroom studio in most of the country.
And why would that person need a 2 bedroom apartment. Having a home is one thing but people don't have an inherent right to have an extra empty bedroom. If the person has a family than wouldn't it make sense for his/her partner to be working too? It is absurd to try to raise a family on a single minimum wage income.

---
Howard Dean 2004
[ Parent ]

That 60% that earn minimum wage are households (none / 0) (#66)
by jjayson on Sat Nov 09, 2002 at 11:34:08 PM EST

A head of household is the wage earner with children (and optional spouse). The second bed-room is needed for the children, so it is not just an empty one sitting there. Won't you think of the children!
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
Childcare is too expensive (4.50 / 2) (#67)
by jjayson on Sat Nov 09, 2002 at 11:36:47 PM EST

A head of household is the wage earner with children (and optional spouse). The second bed-room is needed for the children, so it is not just an empty one sitting there. If there is a spouse they are almost required to take care of the children because child care is going to be more expensive than their rent (it is really, really expensive and almost cost my mother of two elementary school children her entire $15/hour wage).

Won't you think of the children!
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

Wrong on both counts... (none / 0) (#79)
by seebs on Mon Nov 11, 2002 at 01:59:54 PM EST

It's not "well-documented" within your story, anyway... You just handwaved and said "they're correlated".

As to your definition of "affordable":  That's the one that says a house which would go for $750k is "affordable housing" if it's in a rich neighborhood.  It's not based on minimum wage; it's based on the neighborhood you build in.

What we need is ANY HOUSING AT ALL in the lower-income, less expensive, neighborhoods.  Even if it's not "affordable" for the poorest people there... because if people currently in cheaper housing move in, they're still freeing up space for the people who can't afford it.

Some people will willingly spend more than 30% of their income on housing, and any neighborhood will have some people above the average salary for the neighborhood.

Your definition of affordable housing is the one which is almost entirely useless and uninformative, which is why I was complaining about that one in the first place.


[ Parent ]

market forces (4.66 / 3) (#36)
by bored on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:09:43 PM EST

So far, the best known solution to unaffordable housing is simple; let people build "unaffordable" housing, and then let them lower the prices if people can't afford it, because otherwise, they don't sell it.

This fails to notice though that real estate has become an investment option for the upper 10%. These people often have 2 to 5 houses leaving them unoccupied for part of the year or renting them out at the highest attainable price. The highest attainable price is gradually increasing because of a 'housing shortage' allows the rental cost to usually (within 5 to 10 years) exceed the price of the mortgage. This causes a permanent shortage of housing for the lower income families because the rate at which new houses are built is low enough that the 'fair market value' for a house tends to sit marginally higher than the rental value of the house. This difference is exploited by those that can, resulting in a gradually biased increase in housing cost. Eventually, an area will implode leaving a dead spot of a lot of unused real estate (this can be seen in large cities, hence the whole 'urban renewal' plans) held by liqudators that leave the property vacant for its 'future' value rather than actually using it (because using it can increase the taxes). These investors tend to colalese a number of pieces of real estate, so that the option to build shopping malls, office complexes etc remains open. At this point the land is realitivly cheap, but a single family cannot just buy a piece of it because the owner doesn't want to fragment the land.

I don't know how to fix this problem, the best idea I can come up with is some kind of limit on how much real estate can be owned by one particular body. Similar to limits on gold, i'm told exist. How to do this fairly, and still allow certain situation (like farmers) exemptions is beyond me.



[ Parent ]
Hullo? (4.50 / 2) (#37)
by Wah on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:18:43 PM EST

So far, the best known solution to unaffordable housing is simple; let people build "unaffordable" housing, and then let them lower the prices if people can't afford it, because otherwise, they don't sell it.

So the idea is to find a developer who is a poor businesman and step in after he goes bankrupt?  It seems to me that a more likely scenario is that if someone looks at a market and sees no one that will buy their expensive houses, they just don't build them.   Also, the idea you've outlined has no ability to sustain itself.  Any time that this happened would make it that much more unlikely to happen again.  Banks don't really accept an excuse like, "Well, I don't have your money, but a lot of deserving, hard-working people can now sleep with a roof over their heads."

You do raise a good point about the vagueness of the term "affordable housing" and it's changing parameters, but I still don't think the market argument as you've posed it holds much water.
--
The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress. -- Joseph Joubert. ...
[ Parent ]

No... (none / 0) (#78)
by seebs on Mon Nov 11, 2002 at 01:56:32 PM EST

No, the idea is, let the guy make some money selling expensive housing if he can... and many of them can, because there *is* often a housing crunch.  Then let rates gradually fall; don't try to legislate that anyone who wishes to build houses *MUST* lose money, guaranteed - then they won't build any, and the shortage remains.


[ Parent ]
simplistic view (3.16 / 6) (#19)
by boxed on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 05:20:06 AM EST

Just creating more houses is hardly an anwer to the problem. The US have a large class of sub-citizens that have work (often more than one job) and are STILL horribly poor. In Europe and the developed parts of Asia the populace rose up against this type of injustice pretty much as soon as it arose (i.e. at the time of industrialization).

boohoo (1.61 / 13) (#21)
by treetops on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 08:13:24 AM EST

In Europe and the developed parts of Asia the populace rose up against this type of injustice pretty much as soon as it arose

...and implemented a new injustice known as "taxing everyone to death". In the US, the radical decision was made to not punish success for the benefit of those who are failures. The fact is, if you're working several jobs and are still poor, it is likely due to poor decisions in the past or deficiencies of personality.



--tt
[ Parent ]
don't give that shit (4.28 / 7) (#23)
by boxed on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 09:01:45 AM EST

We don't take out rich people on the street and flog them. THAT would be punishing success. If I double my salary I get more money in my pocket, this goes for both the US and Europe and only a propaganda-spouting moron like yourself could ever believe anything different. If you work harder you get more money, your definition of "punishing" is about as accurate as the popes definition of "evil".

[ Parent ]
indeed (3.50 / 6) (#27)
by infinitera on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 09:46:36 AM EST

Success is only possible because of the societal framework of private property, and the enforcement thereof. Having more success is not a result of personal greatness, but of being able to play the system; the 'social' wealth one can acquire is still a result of being in a nation-state, which can rightfully claim anything from its citizens for their own benefit. Whether this is a good thing is disputable. ;)

[ Parent ]
You are a fucking idiot (4.42 / 7) (#28)
by Herring on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 10:39:59 AM EST

1) "Success" is clearly a comparative term. It can only be measured in relation to other people's "failure". Therefore not everyone can succeed.
2) The fact that there are companies which can get away with paying people below a living wage to do a job means that they are effectively being subsidised by the governement or charities. Why the fuck should other people have to (voluntarily or otherwise) subsidise your need to get cheap stuff?

In a totally capitalist economy then I suppose if people cannot earn enough to live, then they die. OK, fair enough, but when "the recovery" comes around, where is your workforce? Oh, they're all dead. Supply and demand doesn't really work - you need some sort of buffer (like a welfare system).

BTW, I live in the UK and I pay around $18,000 a year in taxes. In relation to what I earn, I consider that to be OK.

Oh - just realised maybe IHBT.


Say lol what again motherfucker, say lol what again, I dare you, no I double dare you
[ Parent ]
spoken like someone born upper middle class... nt (2.80 / 5) (#48)
by joshsisk on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 01:44:10 PM EST


--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
spoken like someone brainwashed by the left (1.54 / 11) (#51)
by treetops on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 03:01:42 PM EST

Yeah, I pity the homeless. I feel sorry that they chose a life of sitting around with their friends all day outside the shelter and buying booze with money people give them. Tough life.

You, on the other hand, sound like someone who has never lived in a place infested by these people. They are, quite frankly, a disease-carrying public health menace. The ones who are crazy should be put in a hospital and the rest should be conscripted or something.

ps - class envy is so 1980's.


--tt
[ Parent ]
Brainwashed, or using our brains? (4.60 / 5) (#53)
by broken77 on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 03:50:44 PM EST

And yes, I live in Los Angeles, where I see homeless people all the time. I spend a good deal of time downtown and in Santa Monica, two of the highest densities of homeless populations in the country.

Homelessness, most times, is not a choice. Homelessness is houselessness, as the author stated. I'm normally not so blunt... But frankly, you don't know what the hell you're talking about. Why is homelessness drastically on the rise? What, there are more and more "lazy people"? How the hell does that kind of logic come even close to understanding the problem. Think harder.

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

actually, no. (5.00 / 1) (#73)
by joshsisk on Mon Nov 11, 2002 at 10:15:43 AM EST

First off, I'm was not talking about homeless people specifically, but your comment about poor people :

if you're working several jobs and are still poor, it is likely due to poor decisions in the past or deficiencies of personality.

This rubs me the wrong way.

I lived for two years in a pretty rough section of town. Had my car stolen, watched my neighbors car get stolen, watched a police shoot-out with a neighbor, had addicts try to rip me off constantly. The apartment complex next door was mostly occupied with squatters (people who don't pay rent, they just break in to an unoccupied place and claim it as their own - squatters are not called homeless because they have a home, and they are usually younger).

I was pretty poor. Now I'm not. It took me a little less than two years to get out of that neighborhood, and that was working for $4/hr more than minimum wage.

There are a lot of people who can't work any job but minimum wage. If you work a single minimum wage job in America, you can't really afford to live.

Minimum wage in DC is $7 (which is more than the federal minimum, I believe). 40 hours a week x $7 x 4 weeks = $1120 a month before taxes. (Note : a really crappy place in DC is going to cost you $800.)

That's poor. A single person can live on this, maybe, in a very sketchy neighborhood, or with a bunch of roommates, but try raising a family on that - even with a spouse also working.

Now you might say that it's these people's own fault that they cannot get anything but a minimum wage job - but our school system is not doing a very good job of educating people in the big cities, and the only job market that seems to be growing steadily is in the service industry.

An example about the school system : My friend is a teacher in the Bronx. His administrators informed him that even though his social studies students don't know what the Constitution is, or the Bill of Rights, or even who Columbus is, or how America came to be, he needed to teach them about the Civil War. He asked if he could give them a 2 day crash course on everything pre-Civil War and was informed he didn't have time for that. This was true, since two days into the suppossedly week-long session on the Civil War, he was informed that he had to stop teaching them History in his Social Studies class, and instead help them with English, since there was an aptitude test coming up and unless the school-wide English scores were higher, the school would lose funding.

I could tell you a dozen more stories about this school, but the gist is that our system CHURNS out people who aren't really prepared to work high-paying jobs, or even decent-paying jobs. Many of these people do later manage, after a lot of work, to go back to school or learn trade skills. And it's true also that if these kids focused on learning outside of school, they would do better - but the sad fact is that a lot of people's parents never got a good education, either. If kids are going to guaranteed a quality education, our schools have to be better than they are, across the board.

Regardless it's not simply a "poor decision in the past" (unless you consider being born in a neighborhood with crappy schools a bad decision) that causes poverty, as you maintain. IF all kids could get a decent (or even passable) education, maybe I'd buy that arguement, but the fact is - they don't.

If you actually want to learn a bit about it, and aren't just a blowhard, read Nickel and Dimed in America. The author tried to live for several months on minimum wage. She discovered that it was almost impossible to do so without more than one job, and this was without kids, and she still made so little that she would be considered poor.

ps - class envy is so 1980's.

So is arrogance. Or wait : maybe that's timeless?
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

Yes, poverty is the problem. (3.00 / 1) (#32)
by jjayson on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 11:37:44 AM EST

The larges class of people is those that make close to the federal minimum wage and still cannot find affordable housing. The housing wage is too high compares to their AMI, like the story says. Therefor, public housing or Section 8 housing program are needed. If you can provide housing that the extremely low income can keep, then you will eliminate up to 60% of homelessess, just like the numbers say. This won't eliminate poverty, though, and you can't eliminate poverty without fixing the housing crisis because if the past is any indication, housing prices will just rise to new unaffordable levels.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
And how to address poverty , hmm ? (5.00 / 1) (#72)
by fhotg on Mon Nov 11, 2002 at 07:05:17 AM EST

You must think around dark corners to believe that having the government artificially modify the housing market would make anybody better off, in the long run. The problem of course are too low to live minimum wages. Fix this and people not only have shelter, but also healthy food and self-esteems as they don't depend on alms to survive.

The very existence of charity programs, housing programs, homless-shelters and all this is an indicator of something very wrong.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]

Fix minimum wage? (none / 0) (#86)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Nov 14, 2002 at 12:23:21 PM EST

Easier said than done. If a financially struggling company can't afford to give all their min wage people a raise, if forced to it will either go out of business or move overseas where min wage is 2 cents/hour instead of 6 bucks (or whatever it is now).
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
boston (4.00 / 5) (#25)
by minus273 on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 09:27:24 AM EST

"In Boston from 1983-1995, shelter beds rose from 972 to 3,362 -- a 246% increase. The city's annual homeless census recorded a 40% jump from 1988-1996."
you fail to mention that housing is EXTREMELY expensive here and that MA is a one party state ruled by the democratic party (barring the governor) the state has been under democratic control. Most elections here have just one candidate form tehdemocratic party.
Taxes are so high here it is unbeleiveble and corruption is comparable to a 3rd world country. I can barely afford to live here.. i can only imagine how it is for the poor. Boston is an elitest city.. you cant live here unless you are rich you can only live in slums like chinatown or allston.

We put our money where our mouths are. (4.63 / 11) (#26)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 09:36:58 AM EST

My church just recently opened a temporary homeless shelter in the basement. The operation is run by a contractor on behalf of the county; they are working with a number of churches to get this running. Each church opens their doors for one month, in rotation.

The implicit goal is to do an end run around the NIMBY attitude that prevents new shelters from being built.


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


That is a great idea. (3.00 / 4) (#29)
by haakon on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 10:40:01 AM EST

If it works in the medium term (1yr +) write a story for kuro5hin about it.

[ Parent ]
Good idea. (3.00 / 2) (#50)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 01:52:15 PM EST

So far the whole thing has been close to a non-event. They arrive, the grab a bag lunch, they lay down and go to sleep. Not too much to get upset about. I'm gonna push to do it every six months, although buying all the lunch meat is making my wallet ache.


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

that sounds awesome! (3.33 / 3) (#45)
by adequate nathan on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:59:10 PM EST

Good for you!

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

I wanted to -1 this (4.80 / 5) (#35)
by Fon2d2 on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:00:32 PM EST

But it made 2nd page while I was writing this comment.

There are a number of problems with this article.

Firstly there are a number of statistics given that are not given as ratios or percentages. For example, your statement at the beginning that "3.5 million people will experience homelessness this year" has no context without knowing the total population of the United States, which is not given in your article. When divided into the July 2001 population estimate given by the U.S. Census Bureau website this provides a homelessness rate of only 0.012%. Since I must assume that population has increased since July 2001 I must also assume this year's homelessness rate will be less than 0.012%.

Secondly you give data side by side that does not correlate or in a way that manipulates it. For example, in the first paragraph you also state that 45% of this year's homeless will also experience unemployment but working from my previous paragraph I must conclude that those people will constitute less than 0.006% of the population. In reality, the unemployment statistics given by the U.S. Census Bureau for 2000 is 4.0%. It has most likely increased since then. Also you give statistics for arbitrary ranges of dates. For example, in the first paragraph you give two date ranges that can not be correlated: 1983-1995 for the increase in shelter beds, and 1988-1996 for the increase in the homeless population. Two additional problems there are: 1. those statistics focus solely on Boston which makes them statistically irrelevant for analyzing how the U.S. as a whole may be doing, and 2. you state the "homeless census recorded a 40% jump" without giving the equilavent increase in the population of Boston, once again violating my first point.

Thirdly, there is wrongly defined and poorly defined terminology. For example, in the fourth paragraph, you state that "The area median income (AMI) is a measure of the average income over a local area" but I must assume you meant "median income over a local area". This is very important since the median is usually much lower than the average given the typical disparity of wealth and paints a better picture of where we stand in terms of poverty. This is why the median and not the average is used in the first place. Also, in that same paragraph, your definition of "housing wage" is confusing. First thing, it's definition should be in a seperate sentence from the definition for AMI, but that's a seperate grammatical issue. Affordable housing was pretty clear as 30% of AMI, but then why are you using two standards here? Using $8.37/hr as 30% of AMI for 2001 (as you state) I calculate that a person should earn at least $27.90/hr to be able to afford housing but this contrasts with the housing wage. If $8.37/hr is 57% of the housing wage, than the housing wage must be only $14.68/hr. And both of these are impossible to correlate with the poverty line statistic in the third paragraph of 13.3% for 1997, not only because they are different standards but because they are for different years. Which leads to my fourth point.

Fourthly, you make it impossible to tell whether or not the situation is improving. Instead you contort it in the last paragraph in to some sort of political message. Since I have been able to glean so little from your write-up, and there is no analysis of how Bush's budget plans will affect the homeless, I am at a loss to how I should feel about his budget cut to the public housing capital fund.

These are just some of many points I felt while reading your article which, in total, gave me a very uneasy feeling. I was going to recommend taking a serious amount of time to completely redo the article but unfortunately, it has already been posted.

Percentage wrong? (4.00 / 5) (#41)
by Neolith on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:27:28 PM EST

Something is screwy here, because I think you'd end up with something more like 1.2%, or about 1 in a 100 people homeless.

[ Parent ]
Math error (2.50 / 2) (#49)
by Fon2d2 on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 01:48:30 PM EST

Yes, you are correct. The number for the July 1, 2001 estimate is 284,796,887. That gives a homelessness figure of ~1.23%.

[ Parent ]
See a story, not just numbers. (4.33 / 3) (#43)
by jjayson on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:54:54 PM EST

You fall into the same trap that others here do. You need to look at all the numbers and discern a story from them, not try to point out flaws with each individual number.  The fact is that for many of the figures, we only have local numbers. And local numbers make more sense when dealing with a local issue. This story should hopefully make you wonder what the numbers are in your area and to check them out.

Firstly there are a number of statistics given that are not given as ratios or percentages. For example, your statement at the beginning that "3.5 million people will experience homelessness this year" has no context without knowing the total population of the United States, which is not given in your article. When divided into the July 2001 population estimate given by the U.S. Census Bureau website this provides a homelessness rate of only 0.012%. Since I must assume that population has increased since July 2001 I must also assume this year's homelessness rate will be less than 0.012%.
The fact that there will be 3.5 million people without shelter should be frighten enough. You cannot dismiss this injustice by saying that it is only a small percentage of the US population. Each one of those people is valuable and almost hald of them are children that do not deserve to be without home during such an important developmental point in their life.

If we just looked at the number of beds, the full story doesn't come out. Look at the decreasing available number of affordable rental units and the massive overcrowding at shelters and the picture clears up a little. The problem is getting worse. soaring prices for low-income rental units shows that demand is increasing and these prices are supposed to be kept in check by public housing and Section 8 programs.

I compare housing wages against economic growth and inflation. Rental costs are growing faster than income for the bottom fifth of income earners. The gap between available housing and those seaking it is growing. If we were handling the problem you would at least expect us to hold this level constant.

Secondly you give data side by side that does not correlate or in a way that manipulates it. For example, in the first paragraph you also state that 45% of this year's homeless will also experience unemployment but working from my previous paragraph I must conclude that those people will constitute less than 0.006% of the population. In reality, the unemployment statistics given by the U.S. Census Bureau for 2000 is 4.0%. It has most likely increased since then.
I don't understand your point. So joblessness is more than ten times more likely in homeless individuals than those with homes. Yes, a small percentage of the US population is both homeless and jobless. So what? The point of those numbers was to show that even with a job, people cannot afford housing.

Also you give statistics for arbitrary ranges of dates. For example, in the first paragraph you give two date ranges that can not be correlated: 1983-1995 for the increase in shelter beds, and 1988-1996 for the increase in the homeless population. Two additional problems there are: 1. those statistics focus solely on Boston which makes them statistically irrelevant for analyzing how the U.S. as a whole may be doing, and 2. you state the "homeless census recorded a 40% jump" without giving the equilavent increase in the population of Boston, once again violating my first point.
The two date ranges I thought were close enough to compare. They are only a year off in their ending dates. They show that in most of the growth of the homeless has come recently. You may have a point if by starting dates were close, but my ending dates were far from each other, though.

We don't have statistics nationally, so you have to grab the local statistics. I show not just Boston but also Minnesota, Los Angeles, Virginia, and Seattle to show a tend across the major metropolitan areas of the US. The housing and poverty numbers are nationwide.

The 40% figure is not compared against the population grown in Boston, no. However, are you saying that you think the population in Boston grew 40% over from 1988-1996? Look at the 246% increase in shelter beds plus the overcrowding that is happening in the rest of the nation and I think an intelligent conclusion can be drawn evenn though we do not have all the information. I don't have time to do all the research. You do some to support your side of the story and don't lay it all on me.

Thirdly, there is wrongly defined and poorly defined terminology. For example, in the fourth paragraph, you state that "The area median income (AMI) is a measure of the average income over a local area" but I must assume you meant "median income over a local area".
The mean, median, and mode are all types of averages. Average is a generic term for many different calculations.

Affordable housing was pretty clear as 30% of AMI, but then why are you using two standards here? Using $8.37/hr as 30% of AMI for 2001 (as you state) I calculate that a person should earn at least $27.90/hr to be able to afford housing but this contrasts with the housing wage. If $8.37/hr is 57% of the housing wage, than the housing wage must be only $14.68/hr.
$8.37 was the average wage of the group of all those earning less than 30% of their local AMI. The housing wage figure is national. Not enough information here is give to calulate what the national AMI is.

And both of these are impossible to correlate with the poverty line statistic in the third paragraph of 13.3% for 1997, not only because they are different standards but because they are for different years. Which leads to my fourth point.
Again this is national verus local number comparison. I try to do the best with what I have. Looking at the numbers so myopically will not give you any type of story to go along with them. If you can to, try to draw a different conclusiong from the numbers and present it. I was not able to draw anything but there is a sever housing cruch that combined with rising povery levels has lead to a homeless disorder in the US.

Fourthly, you make it impossible to tell whether or not the situation is improving. Instead you contort it in the last paragraph in to some sort of political message. Since I have been able to glean so little from your write-up, and there is no analysis of how Bush's budget plans will affect the homeless, I am at a loss to how I should feel about his budget cut to the public housing capital fund.
Maybe I just didn't have enough time to present it well, but I thought the numbers spoke for themselves very well. Earlier in the article I say that low-income housing is going away because of delapidation and that is exactly what the I say the general housing fund is for. Let me be more clear: with less money in the housing fund for fewer improvements and renovations, the amount of public and Section 8 housing will decrease from falling into disrepair. They will turn into slums.

If you look at all the numbers, I don't see how you can draw any sort of solice that we are working on the problem or it is getting better. Just go to your local urban downtown and see for yourself. Please, present your side and I will see how easy it is to tear down piecemeal because for many efforts we just don't have all the numbers you could want.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

I do want to see a story (4.00 / 2) (#52)
by Fon2d2 on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 03:48:53 PM EST

But my point was that it is very hard to get any clear mental picture of the actual state of affairs from your article. Now let me first off apologize for a math error: the homeless rate I calculated should've been 1.2%, not 0.012%. Now I agree with you that there should not be any homeless but a simple statement like that does nothing to indicate how the problem should be addressed. The fact that you say the figure of 3.5 million should be frightening concerns me. The world population is very large, so it therefore follows that the number of underpriviledged peoples in the world will also be large. Just giving a single figure without its appropriate context does nothing to help me understand the problem. Also, the problems with the type of data you present and the way it's correlated (or not in this article) is pointed out in other comments as well. Now some of your figures are good. The 13.3% below the poverty line is pretty hard and concrete. I guess what I'd like to see is a focus on the trends of a few statistics. For example what is the percent of the population living below the poverty line in 1998, 1999, etc? How has minimum wage held out in comparison to the poverty line and to the cost of affordable housing? What is the percentage of the population that is homeless? Has that percentage been increasing or decreasing? If you're focusing on the homeless rate of urban areas then you should explicitly state that and you should tie together the analysis of each city. Now none of this states how the data should be acted on. For example it's possible that government provided housing lowers demand and thus raises prices for privately owned apartments. I agree that your are probably right: Bush's budget cut will probably equate to a lower standard of living and less opportunity for the average homeless person. But that's no excuse for a sloppy write-up, if you want to be taken seriously. One more thing I want to take contention with. Yes, "average" can mean "mean, median or mode" but it can also mean just "mean". This makes your definition ambiguous. Please consider that the typical interpretation of "average" is "mean". I must stress that it is important to distinguish that you mean the "median" as it is likely much lower than the "mean" due to the great disparity in wealth in this country. A mean could make it look like everybody is doing fine when, in reality, 30% of them could be living below the poverty line.

[ Parent ]
Lumber and steel tariffs... (4.50 / 2) (#39)
by SaintPort on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:26:33 PM EST

These were posted under an Editorial Comment...

Now, what should we do about the the rich-poor divide?  I've been working my fanny off since 1977, worked my way through collage, practiced frugality... but I am still a firm member of the working class.  I don't know what the income level difference between working class and middle class is this year (I'd guess around $70,000?).

Housing is really a key variable.  The house I own is OK.  I bought it 10 years ago.  If I had to buy the same house in today's market I could not afford it.  Is this a housing bubble?  Will it burst?

I recently read a story in National Geographic about a couple in CA would have an income of $100,000 and have to live in a shelter because of housing prices.

If I had to link this to anything, I remember housing prices starting bubbling about the time lumber prices shot up (right after a big hurricane I believe).  

[krek]
The reason that lumber prices went up in the US is because the American government place a duty of 27% on all Canadian lumber exports to the States, not due to any hurricanes. I am not sure how they managed to get this done, because, as I recall, the WTO has repealed these sorts of lumber tariffs several times in the past as being unjustified. But, admittedly, it is not as bad as it could have been, if I recall correctly, they had originally wanted to make the tariff something like 60%.

Gotta love that free market!

So where's all that money going? More importantly could that be a large part of the high cost of US housing?

[krek]
Someone's pocket no doubt, although I believe that the official reason for the duties was in order to subsidise their own lumber industry.... after an appropriate skim of course.

Most definitely, when all of this was starting around a year ago, the Canadian press had lots of statistics indicating how much the duties would hurt the US housing market, most often from American analysts too.

What is strange is that the US imposed another set of tariffs at around the same time; steel tariffs against the EU. What struck me is that both of these duties directly affected the two industries that the US economy usually rely on to get out of a pinch; the housing market and the auto industry. It didn't make sense then, and it still doesn't.


--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

It could take generations (none / 0) (#71)
by RyoCokey on Sun Nov 10, 2002 at 04:47:30 PM EST

...if you're lucky. As for housing, I find it varies quite a bit around the country, as does cost of living. Move to the South if you desire lower cost of living. Of course, you have to have a job down there, but it's certainly possible. Stay away from California and the Northeast.

As for advancing from working to middle class, it took 3 generations for my family, coming from a bunch of farmers from Georgia.



"There is no reason why we should not have peaceful relations with the rest of the world if we cease playing the role of Meddlesome Mattie." - Sen. Art
[ Parent ]
Homeless or Won't Go Home? (1.71 / 7) (#42)
by Alethes on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 12:47:05 PM EST

Some people are "homeless" that could have a home if they would just go to it.

Statistics (4.16 / 6) (#46)
by ucblockhead on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 01:30:10 PM EST

The trouble with these numbers is that they mask most of the real issues. They treat the guy sleeping on his brother's couch for a couple months the same as the guy who has been sleeping on the sidewalk for the last twenty years. Without recognizing this, you have little hope of coming up with an effective solution.

The guy sleeping on the couch likely just does need a better job. The psychotic heroin addict sleeping in his own piss on the sidewalk needs help of a completely different sort.

So to say "homelessness" is caused by "poverty" is wrong for the simple fact that there is not one condition called "homelessness" with a single cause. There are different conditions. There's poverty. There's drug addiction. There's alcoholism. There's mental illness.

Giving money to a mentally healthy, nonaddicted, person who wants work is likely an effective means of help. Giving it to a heroin addict is merely enabling that addict's addiction. Giving it to a raving psychotic is likely pointless. If this is not recognized, the problem of "homelessness" will never be solved because in truth there are many different kinds of homelessness, and often they can only be solved with diametrically opposed methods.

How many people are in any of these categories? God only knows... I personally believe that the majority are in the first group, people who want to work. However, those are not the visible homeless. Those are usually not the ones you see on the streets, begging for quarters to take to the liquor store. These are not the people you see walking down the street at 10 am babbling incoherently with their pants falling down. By shoving them all into the same group, you push the bad feelings people have towards those crapping on city sidewalks to the people who really are just facing hard times. And that is very sad.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

I am not being exclusive. (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by jjayson on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 04:15:59 PM EST

So to say "homelessness" is caused by "poverty" is wrong for the simple fact that there is not one condition called "homelessness" with a single cause. There are different conditions. There's poverty. There's drug addiction. There's alcoholism. There's mental illness.
No, I am not saying that only poverty causes homelessness. I said that homeless causes poverty. You are trying to put exclusionary words into the story that are not there. The numbers do show that a vast majority of homelessness is caused by poverty, too. Only 30% of homeless have mental problems. Of those only about 5% need to be hospitalized.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
Only? (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by ucblockhead on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 05:34:03 PM EST

Only 30%? My god, that's almost 1/3rd...if you treat all homeless in the same way, you are basically failing to help that 30%.

Regardless of whether only 5% need to be hospitalized, one needs to ask how much of that 30% is on the streets because of bad decisions arising out of their mental illness. Ignore that, and you fail to help them.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

I realize that. (4.00 / 1) (#63)
by jjayson on Sat Nov 09, 2002 at 11:11:31 AM EST

The original story was more narrative and was supposed to be about the mentally ill/homeless connection. However, I decided to split it up and only focus on what the majority have problems with or what will cause the most homelessness in the near future: that is poverty and lack of affordable housing. Even if you get the mentally ill homeless on meds, housing is still going to be the problem. However, if you fix the housuing situation, you will fix 70% of the problem.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
Meds (4.00 / 2) (#65)
by ucblockhead on Sat Nov 09, 2002 at 03:51:55 PM EST

Maybe, maybe not. For a lot of these people, the illness is the root cause. With the illness treated, they may well be able to hold jobs and get housing.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Offtopic, but... (5.00 / 2) (#62)
by GhostfacedFiddlah on Sat Nov 09, 2002 at 10:59:27 AM EST

...you've neatly summed up my problem with the prison system.  There are a myriad of different types of crimes, and different people who commit them.  And yet somehow we prescribe the same method of rehabilitation for all of them.  Lock 'em up or take their money.  I feel that if the punishment were to fit the person, we'd end up with a much better system for rehabilitation.

[ Parent ]
perfectly normal (2.75 / 4) (#55)
by auraslip on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 05:24:39 PM EST

as America becomes more and more an industrial nation the less it will need unskilled and low skilled workers. Factory and farming jobs will be lost to computer and lab jobs, and the workers who don't become "skilled" will be homeless. The cost of living will of course also rise, due to the increasing number of people. It's all Malthus. That's the price of progress.
So get you parents back into college.

Also your statment that "The city's annual homeless census recorded a 40% jump from 1988-1996."
Might just be caused by "In Boston from 1983-1995, shelter beds rose from 972 to 3,362 -- a 246% increase."
124

lots of problems, no solution (4.66 / 3) (#57)
by svillee on Fri Nov 08, 2002 at 08:14:34 PM EST

Your article discusses the problems of homelessness and poverty, but doesn't offer any solution. I imagine most people living in a major city are already quite aware that there is a homeless problem.

It is well known that homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked.

Duh! Come on, tell me something I don't know. Or make a constructive suggestion on what to do about the problem.

The common myth is that these people should just get jobs.

I actually don't subscribe to this myth. I believe many of them are honestly trying to get a job, or they have a job but it doesn't pay enough for them to live in reasonable comfort. I don't see a solution to this problem. Do you?

Poverty is not a new problem. There have been poor people for all of recorded history. Attempts to solve the problem are also not new. Governments have taxed the rich and provided social welfare programs. I believe at least some of the politicians have noble intentions. Churches have used titheing for similar purposes. And of course there are voluntary charities, which really do raise a lot of money.

But it's never enough. Poverty remains, despite all attempts to give everyone a comfortable standard of living. You can argue the root problem is greedy businessmen, or corrupt politicians, or whatever. But greed and corruption have been around for ages. How do you propose to change human nature?

For what it's worth, here is a summary of the real problem, as I see it. We are too dependent on the labor of others.

In order for someone to eat, a farmer has to grow food for him. Even the largest factory farm still requires some labor. Then someone needs to transport the food to the city where he lives. A grocer needs to stock the food on the shelves. And finally, a clerk needs to ring it up on the cash register (this is the most labor intensive part).

That's just food, something he needs basically every day. He will also need someone to build a home for him at some point. When his drain gets clogged, he will need a plumber to fix it. When he gets sick, he will need the help of a doctor.

Now, we might idealistically wish that these other people would be willing to perform this labor just because he's a human being in need. But the reality is most of them will not voluntarily do it without compensation. Whether that makes them "greedy" or "not humanitarian" is irrelevant. The important thing is that it's human nature, and it's not likely to change.

I believe the basic problem is that the average person does not do enough truly useful work to persuade all those people to perform this labor voluntarily. In economic terms, the average person consumes more than he produces. In some cases he is just lazy, while in other cases he has a genuine disability. But either way, it's human nature, and it's not likely to change. I elaborated on this theme in a diary entry.

The Republic (none / 0) (#83)
by mayor on Mon Nov 11, 2002 at 09:48:41 PM EST

But greed and corruption have been around for ages. How do you propose to change human nature?

Murder, rape, and treason has also been around for ages. Don't know how we can change it; but since corruption results in millions of more victims, probably a good temporary step is the electric chair. Just like we do for the inferior crime of murder, where the victims are usually only a few. Saying it cannot be changed because it is "human nature" is a formula of never don't anything about -- and by they way, let's also excuse the murderers now that we know that their actions are also within human nature. In order for someone to eat, a farmer has to grow food for him. Even the largest factory farm still requires some labor. Then someone needs to transport [...]

Please take a look at "The Republic" by Plato, where he spend volumes (using your same example) to remark on the nature of justice. This subject has been discussed thousants of years long as introductory material for Plato's students. I urge all of you to read the classics and discover the value of our inheritance.

[ Parent ]

So let's redefine the problem. (5.00 / 2) (#59)
by alizard on Sat Nov 09, 2002 at 03:57:46 AM EST

The demographic I'm talking about serving here is working poor, mainly. The junkie on the street can be left there as far as I'm concerned. Actually, I've got ideas for handling that, but I think this content is adequately controversial for now.

While this discussion has basically fractured along political lines as one would expect, I think it's time for a basically technology / business oriented group to start thinking like one.

1) How can marketplace incentives be structured so there is in fact a reason for private organizations to build affordable housing? Do you agree with me that this is largely dependent of building affordable housing?

2) What kind of technologies and methods can be used to deliver high-quality low-cost housing? Most of us know about the capsule apartments in Japan, for instance. I've wondered about recycling used steel shipping containers into low-cost housing. Given a standard sized building unit, designing a factory anywhere from lights out full automation to a manual assembly line to fill that unit with what's needed to turn it from a shipping container into housing isn't going to be exactly difficult. My biases go towards 80% automation, 20% manual, i.e. humans do the stuff that's really hard to design robotics to do.

What changes in building codes would be required to make something like that legal? Would it be reasonable to figure out a way to carve out real affordable housing projects from them in a way consistent with the safety of the occupants.

The above is one example of possible affordable housing technology. Let's see some others.

3) Now for the fun stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if reasonable answers come up here for the first two questions.

How can communities be persuaded to accept low-cost housing? At gunpoint is a perfectly reasonable answer, since I'm not a member of the Libertarian cult. The State of California has required local cities to incorporate low income housing into their community planning. In general, this has not been enforced and is freely ignored by cities in this state.

If a carrot in the form of incentives can be offered to communities, I can live with that, too. What kind of bribes can reasonably be offered. By government? By private organizations who would like to do this, either for charitable or profit-making reasons?

I know of a local example where the city of Brentwood, CA (the one in the SF Bay Area) attempted to require a new apartment complex to get police reports on all housing applicants. This wasn't for a designated low-income development, this was just a regular apartment complex. The problem was that local homeowners were afraid a nearby apartment complex would reduce their property values by a fraction of a percent, maybe. How would the local government have reacted to actual low-income households?

Interesting question. Presumably, the less robust city council would defecate in their clothing.
"The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico

As for the steel housing (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by jaymz168 on Sun Nov 10, 2002 at 08:47:22 AM EST

2) What kind of technologies and methods can be used to deliver high-quality low-cost housing? Most of us know about the capsule apartments in Japan, for instance. I've wondered about recycling used steel shipping containers into low-cost housing. Given a standard sized building unit, designing a factory anywhere from lights out full automation to a manual assembly line to fill that unit with what's needed to turn it from a shipping container into housing isn't going to be exactly difficult. My biases go towards 80% automation, 20% manual, i.e. humans do the stuff that's really hard to design robotics to do. What changes in building codes would be required to make something like that legal?

I don't think there would need to be any change in the laws and regulations, as I've seen and even been inside of housing just like this. It's used to give migrant workers a place to live right next to the fields they work. It basically looks like one of those storage facilities with rows of low alluminum or steel compartments. My friend's half-sister lived in a town in southern New Jersey that was mostly fields. It was Sunday and apparently beer and liquor aren't available on 'the sabbath', however the workers provided beer by buying a bunch on Saturday and selling it on Sunday to their fellow workers and other nearby residents.


Would it be reasonable to figure out a way to carve out real affordable housing projects from them in a way consistent with the safety of the occupants.

However, they did have dirt floors, so I can't attest to their saftey or sanitation. I'd have to say I think it's a great idea, minus the dirt floors, and they could probably be stackable with some sort of modular stairing system to facilitate adding on vertically later if needed. Now we just need a talented architect and a really rich guy....

[ Parent ]
cities (1.22 / 9) (#60)
by parasite on Sat Nov 09, 2002 at 05:12:10 AM EST


So they're not getting the aid because they're
living it up -- the "big city life", eh ? And rent is like SOO much higher and what not.
Okay then, tell me if I can't afford to live
in the big city, what exactly in the fuck
business does a homeless jobless fuck have being
there ? Why should HE get to have "greater assistance" to live there if I can't even afford
to be there ?

Living in a bad ass city is a privledge, if they want it bad enough to put up with sleeping in the gutter, that's their fucking problem.

If they don't then they can go work on a fucking farm and pick cotton or something. Or they can
live for nickles and dimes out in the suburbs
like the rest of us.

Ugh... (5.00 / 1) (#68)
by tofugorilla on Sun Nov 10, 2002 at 08:23:44 AM EST

OK- I will realize that some people are beyond help and will be homeless regardless; But for those who genuinely want to get off the street, it is not an easy task. If you're homeless in the city, It's a hard life.

So lets say YOU are homeless. Did you actually save up some money? Junkies and scumbags will mug you on a regular basis. Don't want to get mugged? don't sleep or sleep in highly public places. You want steady work? Sorry you don't have a perminant address and we don't want to deal with you.

How many of those who say "It's their own fault." would even look these people in the eye and relate to them as fellow human beings. Very few I would guess.

I don't have a solution, but I think recognising that these people do lead a difficult existance and need some sort of help couldn't hurt.

Not just the poor and home/jobless (none / 0) (#80)
by ph317 on Mon Nov 11, 2002 at 03:43:59 PM EST


Cost of living is going up in most large cities, and it's affecting everyone - especially in a time of economic downturn and whatnot.  I've heard the reasons why houses continue to inflate in value despite the economy (mostly low loan rates make them more attractive, raising demand, raising prices), but it still makes no sense.

People are hurting in this county.  A lot of good productive people are suddenly out of jobs, or are working for less than half what they were before, yet costs of living are on the rise.  I got lucky in landing a decent job after being laid-off by one of the big companies folding up all over the country.  I make roughly $80,000 a year now (pre-tax), which is down some but good by the standards of today's economy.  In order to live relatively near my downtown office and live a normal somewhat frugal professional life, I burn through a little over half my paycheck on "regular" bills, rent, food, etc.  Any new purchases on my part (furniture, computer junk), or any emergency needs (car repairs, etc) come on top of that - generally every month there's something or other.

In the long run, I'm only able to save around $1000 a month barring anything major.  At $1000/month, I won't raise my current economic status in any reasonable amount of time.

For that matter, there's plenty of downtown workers near me in roughly the same boat making $40-60k.  How they get by is beyond me, but it must be harsh.  And what about the guys working the counter at the downtown McDonalds?  Their situation really sucks.

Something needs to change, or this whole country is going to fall apart from the bottom up.

[Note - numbers might seem off to you because this is in Texas - costs and wages are both proportionally lower than the coasts]

I'd venture to say (none / 0) (#82)
by mindstrm on Mon Nov 11, 2002 at 08:41:22 PM EST

that if you are saving $1000 a month, you are doing better than most. That's nothing to shake a stick at; a lot of poeple LIVE on just over a grand a month.


[ Parent ]
No doubt (none / 0) (#84)
by ph317 on Tue Nov 12, 2002 at 07:08:30 PM EST


I'm doing better than most, but compared to a few years ago I'm not doing nearly as well.  I wasn't part of the dot-com bubble in any direct way, but it affected me because I'm in the computer field.  A few years ago I was convinced I would be a millionaire by 2007 or so, now it doesn't look likely for decades - that's a big change.  My point is that the wage drop due to the job scramble combined with rising costs of living is hurting even me, as insulated as I am from the real dregs of the economic scale.  It looks to me like an avalanche effect waiting to happen if the trends continue this way.  Dare I say it even supports in some ways the conspiracy theories about the true upper class twisting global economics in a power grab over the last 80 years or so (culminating with the most recent events), attempting to revert the US back to a two-class system.

[ Parent ]
if this was in hexadecimal... (3.00 / 2) (#85)
by Fen on Wed Nov 13, 2002 at 09:07:23 AM EST

It would affect change. If we all were more logical, we'd have less homelessness because we'd have such great technology. It's so easy to do, too.
--Self.
Just the Numbers | 86 comments (70 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
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