Finally, some folks in this community are trying to revive the comprehensive approach to solving Columbia’s homelessness problem, two years after city council arbitrarily killed a similar effort that was well on its way.
Of course, the leadership is coming, again, from the private sector. A broad coalition including the United Way, the Salvation Army, business leaders, and an interfaith consortium, with $5 million from the Knight Foundation, are trying to get the one-stop-shop for dealing with the various pathologies that lead to homelessness. (FYI — the Knight Foundation is an organization that was once upon a time associated with the corporation that owned The State. That corporation doesn’t exist any more, but the Foundation has maintained its commitment to Columbia — which is slightly amazing.)
So what’s the city’s reaction? According to The State‘s Adam Beam, "Council members said they would be hesitant to fund an idea that has failed in the past."
Say what?!?!? The idea didn’t fail. You killed it. And it ranks as possibly the most outrageously irresponsible thing the city has done in the past 10 years, which is no small feat. The city’s feckless efforts toward homelessness since then — the "Housing First" program that addresses only a thin sliver of the problem, the sequel emergency winter shelters, just adds to the insult to all the good-faith efforts the city scuttled. ("Emergency" because each year there for awhile it seemed like a shock to the city that such a shelter would be needed — "What? It’s going to get cold again?")
Here’s some video of some of the members of the new coalition talking to the editorial board about their effort — which is admirable and encouraging, but doomed to fail if the city doesn’t get its mind right and follow where the private sector is leading.
Shelter for the “homeless” is something that perplexes many cities both large and small.
Homeless is a broad term to encompass not only the mentally impaired but the people that do not have the ability to get a job or keep a job for whatever reason. Many of the cults that have sprung up in the name of religion etc are made up of those that would probably be homeless had they not JOINED.
For the private sector or the public sector to take on the building of shelters for permanent housing is an enormous task that is never ending and more and more people will need the services of such shelters as times get tough and people do not get educated to hold a job or if jobs are not available.
Alcoholism becomes more of a factor because the homeless find a way to get the money to buy the booze. More and more illegal people come to this country and now that laws are being passed to prevent their working without having some type of work visa (I agree with this law by the way) we are probably going to have more of the Mexican population trying to be admitted the these shelters.
Who has the answer? Not sure that I know myself but I know one thing for sure and that is we subsidize everything from the cradle to the grave now. How much more can we take on as donations or taxes?
Whoa, Slugger … where do you get the notion that ” … we subsidize everything from the cradle to the grave now.” After Bill Clinton reformed traditional welfare during his presidency, and Bush and 12 years of GOP rule have decimated many entitlement programs, there ain’t that much subsidy left.
I live in a poor county that the unemployment tops the state 5 every year. How do they live if they have no job? They sell drugs while we provide housing, food, school lunches, utilities, health care etc.
Does that answer your question?
Pastor Disasa had it exactly right: the problem is beyond the scope of any one entity to handle it, but together much is possible. The question is, will municipal government join or scuttle it? Councilwoman Devine’s comments in the article were especially disappointing. What is it? Is it really a money issue? or is it a political will issue, a NIMBY situation?
Economic circumstances are so precarious for so many people; folks who could never imagine themselves as ever being homeless are often just one catastrophic illness or crisis away from finding themselves in just that situation. How we as a community react to our friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters in that situation—treating them as part of our community or instead casting them out with the kind of one-brushstroke-fits-all portrayal that we see from Slugger and pals—this plays a huge role in the overall health and strength of our community.
You’d naturally expect religious leaders and caregivers in our town to get behind this, but I think it’s key that the business community is starting to as well, because they know what is in the best interest of a healthy city.
Thanks for the video and I hope the Council gets off their duff. Wouldn’t it be great to be out front on something like this, a city that other similarly-sized cities look to as an example.
Seems to me that the real shelters for the homeless are the various mental institutions from which they were they were released unto their own recognizance( mid eighties). How can a person be mentally well and live in a bush, live on a chair, sleep on a bench on a public road? Like with a broken leg, we need to help these people find their ways back to mental hospitals….us paying the taxes, footing the bill.
The theory back in the eighties was that instead of warehousing the mentally ill, we could provide community care so that they could live in a normal or near normal environment. Instead, we just closed the institutions without providing alternatives in the community. You see the result.
Yes, Karen, the mental institution dump is another glorious legacy of King Ronald Reagan Reign of Error.
The current economic crisis, after nearly 3 decades of–snicker–“trickle down” theory, is a much more glaring example of the free market’s failure to do anything except produce exponentially greater profit for those that already had profit.
Cue the Lee Muller “Socialist Fanfare.” WAAAAUUUUUUGGGA (like one of those 1930’s car horns).
Bill Clinton fought welfare reform, then claimed credit after Newt Gingrich built an veto-proof coalition and passed it.
Yet welfare spending is up 40% under Bush and the Democrat-controlled Congress, accounting for our entire deficits every year.
Many chronic homeless are mentally ill, released from treatment by Democrat legislation to set them “free”. Another liberal failure.
If the churches and private groups want to help “the homeless”, more power to them. The city doesn’t need to throw any more money away creating feeding centers to attract bums here from all over the state.
“Build it and they will come”. San Francisco found that out the hard way.
There has to be some way to separaste the needy from the greedy. Or, those that can be helped from those who can never recover. Just like there are people that have skills to work but no jobs. Then you have people with no skills and apparently are not looking for any because they would not “work in a pie factory”.
Some problems just can’t be fixed on a permanent basis.
The actual problems of poverty and homelessness are rather small in America, small enough for private charity to handle quite easily.
Government bureaucrats have a personal interest in NOT solving social problems, so they can build a power base and cushy jobs for themselves by maintaining their “clients” in a state of purgatory.
The majority of people evicted from their homes for tax sales are the elderly, whose homes are paid for. A lot of cronies plugged into the corrupt system of property taxes and liens like homelessness.
I have been a downtown resident since 2000. I can see that the homeless problem is getting worse, not better. We must figure out a way to get these people out of our doorways, parking garages, and the public library. We need to make the prisons stop dropping off the newly released in our downtown area – this is one thing that is making the problem even worse. The thing we need to address is our ineffective leadership. Bob Coble is a nice enough man, but he doesn’t have the vision or drive to lead us into the future and make tough decisions. Is this shelter the answer? It could be a start…all of the groups working together to achieve a common goal is much better than moving the shelter from place to place each winter.
The reason downtown is dead is because ladies didn’t like having to worry about being cornered by panhandlers or worse outside every retail store.
Thank the “liberal” judges for that, with their agenda of doing anything to degrade manners and public safety. Legislating from the bench, they opened up the insane asylums, prisons, and borders to fill the streets with riff-raff and criminals.
No judge “leglislated from the bench” that society should close or drastically reduce residential health care facilities.
That was part of the “kinder/gentler” agenda of Reagan and the GOP, as James D. McCallister notes above.
The GOP’s constant attack on “social spending,” while pouring taxes into the military-industrial complex, and, more recently, foreign invasions/occupations has only exacerbated the shortage of any ability to keep the mentally ill off the streets.
The mainstreaming of institutionalized mental patients began in 1961 under President Kennedy. The number of patients in state and county mental hospitals peaked in 1955 at 558,922 and has declined every year since then, to 61,722 in 1996.
If I provide a list of appeals court cases releasing patients, would you bother to read them? Would you understand what you read?
All of the deficits since 1988 have been due to social welfare spending. Military spending increased somewhat under Reagan to make up for the Carter debacle, but not to the levels of Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. The Reagan tax cuts dramatically increased tax revenues with economic growth.
All the Clinton and Bush deficits are due to huge increases in social welfare programs. Had that spending been held to the 2% devaluation rate since 2001, there would have been a surplus of revenue to pay down all debt run up by Clinton and President Bush from 1992-2000.
The downtown of a big city closes up the stores and they move outside the city because they are double taxed and the majority of the people want to live in developments that are near those shopping centers.
The way to keep a downtown alive is the office buildings that have hundreds of employees and enough living quarters near their place of employment along with nice places to eat and entertainment.
The oil crises may just be the answer to revitalizing cities all over the country. People may not want to leave the house with the pool and move back to the city but they may be forced to do so because of gas prices. Then the stores will return and the schools will be built once again downtown and the children will be able to walk to school.
A lot of changes are going to have to be made to make this country conform to the fact that, if we do not drill for our own oil and become independent of foreign oil, we will eventually become stagnated. We will not be in control of our destiny as long as we are dependent on any one item such as oil. Oil. Food. Water. Those are thing to worry about along with the falling dollar.
The bank mergers moved a lot of banking and other white-collar business out of downtown. Then the state made AT&T mad by not paying their phone bills for DSS, so AT&T moved out.
The office supply stores and interior design firms closed or moved.
By the late 1970s, it was unsafe for women and children downtown, so the clothing stores, movie theatres and most eateries closed shop.
Most of the men’s clothing stores closed.
In the meantime, mayors and city councils squandered millions and millions of dollars putting up lights, taking down lights, planting trees, cutting the trees, building medians, and killing off anything on lower Gervais Street that didn’t fit their childish visions of food, alcohol and art.