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Have you heard of the term Poverty Pimping? Its a term in Tucson to describe people who enrich themselves while keeping those they serve suffering; stuck in a revolving door. This may be a shelter anon profit, or a lobbyist group. One friend that is close to me, states how Ann Rand calls such people looters. For example you have the tucson pima collaboration to end homelessness. They receive $125 million a year to end homelessness, thus made up of mental health organizations, homeless shelters, etc. 85% of those working own a house, a car, the people running such organizations have several houses and several cars. The Dallas Fort Worth version gets $195 million each year. mean while 7800 people remain homeless in pima county, 5000 in Dallas. In Tucson there are 400 beds available and the P.T.C.H., refers people they cant help to a Downtown Park.
Meanwhile laundry services, showers, transportation and bathrooms are not provided to those living outside. The newest sale is the housing first model, that according to reports is leading states like Utah to en homelessness by 2015 months aways. According to other sources, outreach workers have never seen more than now. This housing first model places those who qualify (disabled, vets, addicts, domestic violence victims, etc) into an apartment, and given a social worker and other team members to assist them in their success. To the casual observer, this seems awesome, and the math shows its cheaper than criminalizing and herding them from one place to another.
In fact, the simple things like a bus pass, furniture, cooking utensils, toiletries and laundry are still not provided. Most homeless who are dressed based on donations, still be unemployable, because the clothes are faded, worn, or don't match causing them to be seen as unprofessional. Many times they are moved where other homeless hang out, where resources are easy to get, placing them in housing miles away, offers them a loss in social relationships, and farther from the places where they gathered food, work, showers, hygiene, etc. To get anywhere they must walk from one side of town to another. Maybe easy for you or me, but for a special needs client, it can be a death sentence , especially in the Arizona Desert heat. When you are on the streets, who easily in your sleep know the difference between good sounds and bad, no sounds is weary, this changes in an apartment. You have perfect quietness, no good sounds no bad sounds. An uneasiness develops, the other thing is you remember your friends that are still suffering, outside, unprotected by the elements. You feel like you are turning your back on them, rather than making it easier for the next, you have followed the rest who received help and turned your back, Many who aid their friends get evicted as having someone sleep over is a violation of the program. In the end, we see many gaps in the new housing first pitch, we can see why many are not making it thru.
Meanwhile the guy who doesn't fit a qualifying diagnosis is either left on the street with no one to help him or bullied by the organizations to say they are something they are not. We as a society have created special concessions to help those with special needs, but the person who needs and wants work, is turned aways. This being your hidden homeless. Each night the employees head back to their warm homes, knowing they changed little. In places like Oregon, Washington, San Jose, Utah, Tucson, Madison and other cities the homeless are fighting back, they are getting involved in direct actions, setting up their own tent city's, tiny home villages and other things to aid the homeless ran by the homeless on budgets of $15-50K a year, and making a much bigger dent in the homeless population than the Poverty Pimps that now run social assistance programs around the country , charging tax payers more and more.
Ibrahim Bilal Mubarak founder of Right to Dream in Portland, states home is where your heart is, if you call people homeless, you call people heartless. At Safe Park last, year, nobody there or in any shelter had blankets because of the government shut down. We had thousands of people unable to stay warm, Safe Park Co-Founders Jon McLane and myself, did a social media blanket drive, supporters Like the Tribe Tucson, Maria Rice, and Danielle Mireté answered the call delivering blankets to hundreds of men, women and children. Activism is the place where all voices will be heard, and where ideas become direct action. Its the place of social justice, which is the opposite of poverty. Where all donations go to the people who need it the most, and nobody is hoarding for them selves, where no one enriches off the suffering of others.
Housing first is a poverty pimping money making scam going on accross the nation. It puts people in apartments paid for for up to 3 months full, 3 months half, end you with bad credit and an eviction on your record, then thay move the next guy in.Thank you for re
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Disservice to Addicts
Drugs, are everywhere, some are legal some are not. The Untied States annually spends 20 billion dollars on its War on Drugs. War on Drug funding goes to law enforcement, recovery programs, medical assistants, education and more. Unknown fact is that through the drug war law enforcement actually gains over $20 trillion in seized property. That's enough to eradicate poverty in America or fight a new war somewhere. I would not recommend the latter as making orphans around the world isn't our best chance as safety over time. But what about homeless people who are addicts, how do they receive help?
In Tucson like many other cities we offer plenty of for profit and non profit recovery centers, 12 step programs , etc. In fact that is the biggest industry in South Tucson. Most are faith based, others are mental health agencies and community hospitals. We offer 4 shelters and that's where the disservice lies.
At the homeless shelters, you are asked to take a Breathalyzer to get in. If you test .08 or higher you are not allowed in. People appearing to be high or smelling of drugs are automatically turned away. This means that any addict indulging in their addiction, cannot receive help. This leads them to try to find a safe place outside. Many go to Safe Park, A protest for the criminalization of homelessness. The city has spent over $5 million dollars trying to get these persons out of the downtown area,only to fail. This causes more suffering, more sleep deprivation, more likely to use.
Maslows hierarchy of needs, shows us that for a person to be happy, health and successful in life or treatment, the people must have a safe environment, have access to food, community , health, and safety. Without that they cannot go on to long term goals or success. On the streets they run into outreach workers, fellow addicts, activists and more. There they are treated as a person first and not judged on their addiction. The addicts are more willing to open us, share their experiences and you here a desire to quit at some point.
Back at the shelter, those people are not present. There yo u can find ads on the wall about where to get information or assistance with recovery but the people needing to read that were turned away. Near by at the Sourthern Arizona Aids Foundation they are taking a different approach. They speak to addicts as fellow living beings. They take interest in the clients current situation, they talk to them about their addiction. They educate them on safety, how the different drugs effect them and the changes they will see over time. They offer fliers on places that can be more assistance on things they don't offer. Mshape is a drop in center they offer for adults and ION Lunge for minors. Here they have counselors on hand, soft couches, movies shown, a computer study lab, a food pantry and more. Shower are offered with no strings attached. People here, are getting off of drugs, staying away from more harmful drugs and practices. People are leaving the insanity of the streets and finding a place to live indoors, mending family relationships.
As you can see there is a different vibe, there is a change. A social program working the way it should. Not saying they don't have their own issues, but they deal with them quick. Funding is a issue here like anywhere in the state of Arizona right now , where tax revenues are not coming in and education and social assistance is slash over and over. Volunteers and staff step up to the plate and fundraising and getting grassroots donation drives going. A current one is a sock drive, any one wishing to donate socks can drop them off at the SAAF office on Euclid and Broadway.
Some changes I would recommend to the shelter like Primavira , Salvation Army and the Gospel Rescue Mission are:
Change the no tolerance policy to a honor code asking addicts to not use, sell or trade on their property and let people know they may enter if they act responsible. Accept the person, educate the behavior.
End the lock down policy. There is no reason for a person to check in at 2 in the afternoon, and not be able to leave to get a soda or hang out with family. Treat people as adults and watch them rise to the standard. Let people know what your standard is, its easier to be mindful of a standard than to memorize rules. Have the cut off time for leaving being 1030 pm and allow people to leave after checking in.
Aid people in level 1 businesses so they can earn their own income while looking for a steady job.
Non Profit changes:
1. specialization- each one specializes in something, but not everyone in one thing.
2. provide all groups wishing to help with a list of tasks ranked from high cost to low cost , letting each group pick for them selves.
3. Income must be equal to those you are supporting or working in solidarity with.
4.Boards cannot earn more than 5 times what the lowest employee is paid.
5 spend funding on permanent solutions
Homelessness, many of us have become familiar with this term, because its on the rise around the western world, even in America the foundation of the world economy. Many of us , know of it because we have experienced it first hand by being there or having a family or friend experience. We can speak of the numbers all day, but what is the emotional toll?
On fist look, we know that one of the root causes is personal crisis.For reasons out of your control( ie: family disputes, job loss, addiction, metal illness, past or current behavioral issues) you face the emotional distraught of knowing you did not do enough,, you let yourself and others down, you end up segregated against your comfort zone, you face discrimination, you lose all material belongings, you face large debts. A loss of control at every turn. You do this all alone, friends helping where they can. The responsibility is placed on the person, though, many things they did not control.
From here, we travel with a new member of a nomadic group wondering our streets. Here everything comes with an agenda, and strings attached. Not the welcoming site for someone fresh to trauma caused by a personal financial crisis. In this new world, you can be who you choose, you can make your own story, your own new name. No privacy is given, no trust is offered, everything has a catch. Safety is knowledge and withheld information. freed from debt, you find a world of time to do as you wish, limited access to your basis needs. Any college graduate could tell you here we find a total lack of foundation for Maslows Hierarchy of Needs. More than that we can see a slow, separation of personality, a disconnect from common societal values, a more primal being taken over.
Add sleep deprivation, lack of hygiene, lack of nutrition, added anxiety and you have a strong need for self medicating. This leads to a soothing addiction. A little something everyday, to numb the emotional trauma, the reoccurring displacement , the physical strain on the body, the spiritual depravity, and the mental lies played on the mind. It quite possible at this point, a person homeless, actually loses mental stability. A new person is born, unable to reach the hurt person that was traumatized, re-traumatized and repeatedly displaced. As a young lady once told me and others, everyone who has been homeless one day suffered from Post Traumatic Syndrome disorder.
While the original trauma was never dealt with and worked through, the effected person was forced to continue living in their circumstance. This means finding a place to stay, staying in motels, alley ways, tunnels, shelters, sidewalks, etc. A lack of storage and a hardship of not being able to obtain new property, leads to loss of property by theft, arbitrary government regulation, Each time the person is made to leave their place of existence and rest, they remember the day they originally lost everything, they struggle with not being able to stay. The feel the let downs, guilt and memory disconnect as that original day. every time they lose an item , it sets off that memory. In the course of seeking help or trying to survive and recoup, we as a society without knowledge further traumatize, those hardest hit by poverty. We then wonder how to break down their walls to treat the source of their trauma.
The old person, was outgoing, charismatic, positive, willing to help. The new person is disconnected, unable to properly maneuver through basic government or daily tasks, emotional unstable and self serving. We then misunderstand why when we offer services meant to help. the person refuses to accept, not because they don't need them but because the emotional and traumatic toll, the mistrust with authority is highly present and placing a wall.
So where do we go from here? That I do not know, other than to seek help. I would suggest funding permanent solutions rather than band aids, criminalization. Advise anyone if you want to help, first you educate yourself, second you listen to those you are trying to help, third you listen to those already trying to help , fourth you look at the gaps and missing pieces. Last you act accordingly. 10 million+ homeless in america, and whose listening? Not Wall street, not Washington. There is something wrong when you can gather over 50 people in one place and nobody is trying to get their hands dirty for a good cause. The trama needs to be treated, the houseless community must be made part of the conversation as well as being allowed to lead the solutions they call for, as well as a houseless bill of rights for a disfranchised people whose rights are not respected by those in power. Otherwise we are treating the homeless no different than every other minority group in america and furthering the agenda of aristocratic Europe, the oligarchy of wall street, and the jim crow south.
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