If you haven't checked it out, I HIGHLY recommend Dan Carlin's podcast, "Hardcore History." You can pick any of them. They are all great.
When I think of how society treats homelessness today it reminds me very much of how much of the world went into fighting World War I. Blueprint for Armageddon I is his podcast on that topic.
The French Cavalry came to this war on horseback and GAS MASKS!
The Germans brought flamethrowers to the party:
I love the saying: "When you're a hammer everything is a nail."
We humans are very reluctant to adapt. There has a to be A LOT of pain involved before we are convinced to do things differently.
I am here to tell you: the causes of homelessness are different today than they were 100 years ago.
This happened yesterday: Dow jumps 240 points to all-time high as Wall Street ends record-breaking week on a high note
In January 2019 this was written:
After declining for almost a decade, the number of people experiencing homelessness in the United States increased for the second year in a row.
So we have a booming economy and homelessness is increasing. Why is that?
I believe we have created a perfect storm made up of multiple factors that are culminating right now in 2019.
Bill Clinton, the beloved of the Democratic party, crushed support programs with one stroke of the pen signing into law his welfare reform:
With the stroke of a pen, Clinton ended the welfare entitlement, time-limited federal-funded cash assistance to five years over the course of ones lifetime, instituted work requirements, converted the funding stream to a block grant (enabling each state to impose even greater restrictions), and, in what became the cardinal practice under the new more punitive welfare regime, set in motion sanction schedules across the states that penalized recipients for failing to comply with welfare-to-work rules.
And on the other side of the isle, the beloved Ronald Reagan "deinstitutionalized" the mentally ill. So now they are wondering around the streets with nowhere to go.
Both parties are in the business of not providing support to people. Democrats only care about the environment and animals. And Republicans only care about money.
Poor people don't vote. So poor people don't count.
And the institutions that work on the homeless care about maintaining their power first and caring for the homeless second. This is critical to keep in mind.
When an organization becomes successful the people in charge of the organization are primarily focused on maintaining and growing the organization.
So, people become defensive when someone like me suggests even slightly that we could do better. The people in power, such as Dan Horrigan the mayor of Akron, flock to the defense and aid of their powerful friends, the "warm-hearted Continuum of Care professionals" and say things like they are "doing the serious work" and the mayor says this about me:
For all the posturing, loud impassioned speeches, blog posts, public requests for donations and edgy movie posters depicting him as some type of savior, Sage Lewis has made little progress on actually moving the needle on homelessness. Just because he attracts homeless people does not make him an expert in homelessness.
This is all about maintaining the status quo. The powerful want to stay in power most of all. They are terrified of an outsider who "attracts homeless people."
Doesn't it make even a tiny bit of sense that if a person can "attract homeless people" while they run away from other programs that there might be something to what we are doing?
For example, now we're hiring homeless people to work on our properties. We pay $10/hour and they LOVE it. This is a huge turning point in our program, I believe.
It turns out, homeless people like all other people, want to contribute to society and make money that they get to keep and do whatever they want with. (Other organizations have work programs that force the people to keep most of the money in a savings account. Or they pay very little.)
You see... what we've learned is that a person wants to be treated like a person. They want to be treated with dignity and respect. They don't want to be treated like untrustworthy children.
And for the record, I NEVER have said other programs aren't good. In fact what I ALWAYS say is that Summit County has amazing homeless services. This is why adding a program like ours to the mix is even possible. We have great mental health access, great addiction treatment access, great outreach professionals, food every day of the week. We are doing GREAT in Summit County.
But (and this is where I upset people like the mayor): We need to do more and we need to do better.
It's OK to admit that there is a problem and that we all suck in certain areas.
I am the first to admit that our little 50 person tent village sucked. But it sucked WAY LESS than the alternatives. Everyone that stayed at our village stayed there because the shelter wasn't a good fit for them or it was full or they were sick and tired of living alone in the woods.
We were on to something, goddamnit! And they shut us down without giving us the slightest bit of simple human curiosity.
"Why are people coming to that tent village?"
"Why are people staying in tents instead of the shelter, even in the winter?"
"Why would they be willing to contribute to the community instead of doing nothing on the street?"
The people in charge refused to even glimpse at those questions because they were afraid of the answers.
The answers would mean they'd have to retool and rethink and adapt. And humans hate to adapt.
They'd rather bring their horses to a flamethrower party.