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Why there is more homelessness now than we remember as kids.

By Curt_Anderson
October 12, 2021 2:15 pm
Category: Social Services
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The homeless population consists largely of people with criminal histories, psychiatric problems and/or addiction issues.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 20 to 25% of the homeless population in the United States suffers from some form of severe mental illness. Even mild mental illness can make it impossible for person to hold a job or deal with society.

"Starting in the 1960s, there has been a worldwide trend toward moving psychiatric patients from hospital settings to less restricting settings in the community, a shift known as "deinstitutionalization". Because the shift was typically not accompanied by a commensurate development of community-based services, critics say that deinstitutionalization has led to large numbers of people who would once have been inpatients as instead being incarcerated or becoming homeless."

[The] risk of homelessness increases for people with multiple convictions. The Prison Policy Initiative found that people who have been incarcerated more than once are 13 times more likely than the general public to experience homelessness, whereas people who have been incarcerated once are 7 times more likely.

The National Coalition for the Homeless has found that 38% of homeless people are alcohol dependent, and 26% are dependent on other harmful chemicals. I suspect that there are more abusable drugs today than in the past. It's not too difficult for prospective landlords and employers to recognize a pockmarked methamphetamine addict for example.

Years ago, a person could escape their past (criminal and otherwise) by simply moving to another part of the country and re-inventing themselves. It was relatively easy for a person to assume a new name and identity. Not that was necessary. Simply relocating was enough to get fresh start.

Until relatively recently the police didn't have access to a database to check a person's criminal history, much less employers and landlords. Stories about people escaping their wayward pasts was a common theme in old movies. Nowadays if you have criminal record it follows you wherever you go. Employers, landlords and anybody else can simply Google your name to know if you have a prison record. The information age makes it very hard to escape the stigma of unsavory past.

The combination of ex-felons, addicts and people with psychiatric problems found in homeless camps is a toxic brew that makes life difficult for any homeless person and another obstacle in their efforts to escape homelessness.





Cited and related links:

  1. nationalhomeless.org
  2. en.wikipedia.org
  3. urban.org
  4. addictioncenter.com


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Comments:

  1. by Donna on October 13, 2021 8:56 am
    In L.A., many people are homeless simply because they can't afford rent. The cost of living here is ridiculous. In facy that's why we're moving out of here.

    A truly civilized, evolved society would provide affordable housing for everyone.


  2. by Curt_Anderson on October 13, 2021 9:12 am
    Donna,
    You are not homeless. You have the wherewithal to move to a place where rent is affordable. You also have a good rental and employment history. You can pay a reasonable rent. A landlord in Tucson or wherever would be glad to have you.

    Homeless people aren't just short of being able to pay an exorbitant LA rent. They couldn't make the rent if it were $20 a month.

    In regards to the homeless with a criminal past, somehow society, especially landlords employers, needs to give these people a second and sometimes a third chance.


  3. by HatetheSwamp on October 13, 2021 9:13 am

    That was the collective, you. I've been reading the posts about burden of the unvaxxed.

    Let's go Brandon!!!!!


  4. by Donna on October 13, 2021 10:22 am
    Actually it's for the good of society to provide basic life essentials for anyone who ends up living on the streets.


  5. by Donna on October 13, 2021 10:27 am
    Btw, just heard some good news for people like Sheri and I who are receiving Social Security benefits. In 2022 they'll be increased 5.9%. That's almost $200/mo more than we're receiving now.


  6. by Curt_Anderson on October 13, 2021 12:26 pm
    Pertinent to this discussion, JP Morgan is running this paid article in the NY Times. They offer six basic proposals with links to explanations and elaborations.

    One in three Americans have an arrest or conviction record, creating significant barriers to employment and economic opportunity for a substantial number of working-age adults. That’s why JPMorgan Chase has expanded its commitment to giving people with criminal backgrounds across the U.S. a Second Chance by supporting their reentry into the workforce, community and local economies.

    This is part of the company’s efforts to create greater economic opportunity for more people by using its business resources and expertise – including data, research, talent and philanthropic investments – as well as through collaboration with policy, business and community leaders.

    To drive change, the PolicyCenter will focus on helping people with arrest or conviction histories in the following ways:

    Hiring Rules Reformed
    FDIC has enabled more individuals with records to work for regulated institutions.

    Pell Grants Restored
    Eligibility for Pell Grants in prison has been restored, increasing employment opportunities after release.

    Fair Chance Hiring
    New national Fair Chance law helps qualified workers with records compete for jobs in federal agencies and with federal contractors.

    “Clean Slate” Automatic Record Clearing
    Automatic record clearing for eligible federal and state offenses can streamline the process and boost employment.

    Reforming Fines and Fees
    Reform state and municipal laws to address debt-based driver’s license suspensions.

    Promoting Entrepreneurship
    Expanded federal, state entrepreneurship programs reduce recidivism and promote economic growth.
    jpmorganchase.com


  7. by Donna on October 14, 2021 8:04 am
    Good on JP Morgan Chase.

    I've often remarked that many people who are homeless are unemployable, not only because of criminal records, but also because of things like personality issues and their appearance, especially excessive tattoos and piercings.

    But there's also another cause: The minimum wage is too low.

    Minimum wage was always supposed to be a living wage. Prior to signing the bill that created the minimum wage, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, FDR stated:

    “No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.”

    “By ‘business’ I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level — I mean the wages of decent living."


    And that is not happening with current minimum wages, even in L.A. which has a $15/hr MW. Rent in this area is astronomical. Gasoline and sales tax too.



  8. by Ponderer on October 14, 2021 8:47 am

    Video I just saw recently. A reporter for some right wing tabloid site or something is doing a piece about vaccine mandates in California. She's on what I think was Sunset Boulevard using a homeless person on the street as a backdrop. She' railing about how the vaccines don't work and are useless.

    "And what about the homeless? If we need to get the vaccine to survive Covid, why aren't there hundreds of homeless people dead on the street from it?", she rails incredulously.

    "Because we've been vaccinated, you stupid fuck!", the homeless guy behind her shouts.



  9. by Curt_Anderson on October 14, 2021 10:25 am
    The current minimum wage doesn't have much to do with homelessness. Most of the homeless are not making any wage, and certainly not a regular, ongoing wage. The current minimum wage is $14 per hour in California. California has as much or more of a homelessness problem than states with a $7.25 minimum wage.

    I believe there is a solution in the other direction: namely a lower wage.

    We should resurrect FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) for the purposes of mitigating forest fires among other conservation needs. Forest fires today are a result of a century's worth of accumulated brush and overgrowth. There is plenty of work to be done. Prevention would be much cheaper than the cost of stopping conflagrations once they are out of control.

    The old CCC supplied housing, meals, work clothes and a dollar day pay to any unemployed male. Even during the Great Depression, a dollar a day was a low wage. The CCC gave participants work skills, a positive employment history, physical fitness, maybe a little money in their bank account and the satisfaction of contributing to society.


  10. by Ponderer on October 14, 2021 2:18 pm
    I said there's another cause, not that low wages are the primary cause.

    "California has as much or more of a homelessness problem than states with a $7.25 minimum wage. I believe there is a solution in the other direction: namely a lower wage."

    Again, California is ridiculously expensive. You can probably live for half the cost in a state like Mississippi.

    If the last part of your post was an explanation for your support lower wages, you lost me.


  11. by Ponderer on October 14, 2021 2:18 pm
    That was me - Donna.


  12. by Curt_Anderson on October 14, 2021 2:39 pm
    Donna,
    What part didn't you follow? That high rents and/or a low minimum wage isn't a cause of homelessness, or that a CCC program (with its low wage) could get people off the streets?





  13. by Donna on October 15, 2021 4:24 am
    There's no need today "resurrect" the Civilian Conservation Corps, at least not in California. California has its own CCC. You can read about it at the link below. And we still have a very serious homelessness problem.
    ccc.ca.gov


  14. by Curt_Anderson on October 15, 2021 9:06 am
    This is from the California CCC website:

    "The CCC is for individuals ages 18 through 25 and military veterans through age 29. Prospective CCC Corpsmembers must successfully pass a background check, drug test, and physical exam before enrolling in the program.

    Applicants may not be eligible if they have a record of a criminal conviction or pending legal action for a serious felony or violent crime. The CCC accepts applicants of all income and education levels."

    As I understood the old CCC to be or at least as I envision it for today, this would be a the program for people with less than a stellar past and work history.


  15. by Donna on October 15, 2021 9:17 am
    It's a complex problem with numerous causes. There's are many FB posts reporting that people are refusing to work jobs that only pay minimum wage. I've been asking how they're able to pay for their living expenses and I have yet to receive a cogent response, I suspect because the answer is "mom and dad".


  16. by Curt_Anderson on October 15, 2021 12:29 pm
    Wisconsin had a CCC program when I was a kid which I took part. While my wealthier track and cross-country teammates were at elite running camps I was getting in shape by swinging an axe and machete, traipsing through the woods and putting out fires in northern Wisconsin.

    I did that for two summers. We were all high school age boys. It wasn't for unemployed adults like FDR's CCC.

    BTW, they constantly reminded us that any misbehavior or shenanigans would "go on our permanent record". That didn't stop me from being the ring leader in an audacious prank and nighttime attack on a neighboring cabin which had the entire camp in an uproar. The culprits (me and others) were never discovered.


  17. by Donna on October 16, 2021 9:10 am
    I like to hear more about that prank!



  18. by Curt_Anderson on October 16, 2021 10:24 am
    Donna,
    This was over 50 years ago, so I don't remember all the details and what the impetus of the prank was. As you imagine, there were natural rivalries between the cabins.

    We all slept in identical bunkhouses. These were long cabins. They all had narrow screen vents along the roofline with large wood and screen doors on either end. One door was on the outside with screen opening in. The other door opened in with the screen on the outside. We all kept the doors open at night with a cross breeze between the screen doors. Since the cabins didn't have plumbing, there was a central latrine. Each cabin had a broom which was stored outside the front door.

    One late night when they were all asleep we closed and locked or blocked the door that opened out of the neighboring cabin, our chief rivals. I had fabricated some hooks from clothes hanger wire that attached to the door trim of the other door in such a way that it held a broom across their screen door that opened out so it couldn't be opened.

    I am a little foggy on what we did after we had them locked in their cabin. We did something to make sure they woke up. I vaguely recall spraying them through the screens. Whatever we did, the inevitable happened: people needed to use the bathroom which led to their panicky yelling for help. That woke up the entire camp. There was general confusion with people not knowing if there was a fire or what.

    Since the crime was never solved, no particular persons were punished. But everybody was re-assigned to new cabins. Ironically, I was assigned to my original cabin.



  19. by Donna on October 16, 2021 11:19 am
    Ooooh, that was mean. I can understand the panic if they had to use the latrine, especially #2. I think probably everyone took part in some mischief as kids that we wouldn't even think of doing now.


  20. by Curt_Anderson on October 16, 2021 11:55 am
    The Wisconsin CCC camp wasn't a prison. We could quit and leave whenever we wanted. I remember one kid leaving early because of allergies.

    Once a week or so was outdoor movie night. Once they showed "Cool Hand Luke" which was only a year or two old at the time. The next morning, one of boys "escaped" obviously overly affected by the movie. There was a lot of concern about him because we were in the middle of woods and a person could easily get lost.

    I just found a photo of the bunkhouses and web page about the Wisconsin Conservation Corps camp which I link to.

    mwhistory.org


  21. by Curt_Anderson on October 16, 2021 12:39 pm
    The director of the camp was a disliked martinet named Robert Brismaster. I chuckled reading this line from his obituary.
    "alumni of the camp...would appreciate knowing of Brismaster's death."
    ppolinks.com


  22. by Donna on October 16, 2021 1:20 pm
    I had to look up martinet. I figured he wasn't one of Dean Martin's backup singers.




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