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Old 11-19-2014, 01:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmb501 View Post
I was watching a documentary on homelessness in America recently, and now I have a few questions. Why can't cities create low rent or tax subsidized housing for the homeless? It seems like the cities have enough money to provide safe transitional opportunities for people who have a reasonable need. Is it feasible for large cities to do this? If they can do it, why don't they?
How would this work exactly, setting up low cost housing with homelessness as the eligibility criteria? Wouldn't it merely attract more homeless individuals in search of prime in city accommodations at a low cost?

What would the effect be on the low income non-homeless population with regard to rent affordability, if land and other resources are being set aside to one qualified group? For instance, if a low income person was spending $600/mo on rent, let's say half of their take home pay on a place to live, and the 'qualified homeless' housing was $200/mo, why wouldn't they decide to 'qualify' for the lower rent? $400/mo savings would be a HUGE incentive for someone taking home $1200/mo, would it not?

Real world example - Seattle has (or had - not sure how it's changed) a program that allowed young low income women to rent subsidized apartments. A lot of college students on financial aid qualified for these apartments. They were quite a bit nicer and in many cases better located than anything the private market offered to people of similar means. I visited a few of these places without knowing ahead of time they were city subsidized and my reaction was "my god, how do you afford a place like this?!?!?!" The city housing was so much nicer than the typical free market student housing. Newer, modern, working plumbing, relatively spacious and well laid out private studio apartments, buildings had security doors and were located in walkable neighborhoods with good access to transit. They weren't luxurious by any means, but they were quite a bit nicer than what other students could afford. The qualification criteria was set up such that few people could qualify - gender being one of the dis-qualifiers. There were income requirements, but they didn't apply to undocumented income or other money earned from illicit activities, at least not in practice.

Now due to the tight eligibility criteria, it wasn't as if most people could easily move out of their decrepit student hovels and get one of these places. But a lot of people would if they could. Why pay through the nose for substandard housing if something much nicer is available at a similar price, or equal quality at a lower price?


It seems you're also suggesting that urban homeless be transitioned to subsistence farming. If you do a bit of research, that has been tried in many, many societies in recent history. It's not a new or novel idea, nor is it an easy lifestyle. Many people can't continue doing that kind of hard labor later in life and then what?

Subsistence farming itself isn't very sustainable. You should read up on it before convincing yourself that it's a viable solution.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsistence_agriculture

Last edited by mkarch; 11-19-2014 at 02:09 PM..
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Old 11-19-2014, 02:37 PM
 
Location: St. George, Utah
756 posts, read 885,061 times
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For "sound homeless" who need a temporary place to stay while they get their feet under them, there are many programs, most often privately run, which are some variation on what you describe. Everywhere. (Well, not the communal farm thing. That is a lovely idea but impractical in the extreme in most cases.) That you were too embarrassed or flustered or....? to access them does not mean they don't exist. Any pastor of a church has a list of resources; school counselors have a list of resources; police/sheriff offices have them, hospitals have them, secondhand stores have them. One doesn't have to look far to find them, which it's not to say it's easy to get access---just that they are there. The program you are describing would be no different.

The problem, for me, is expecting "The Government" to do these things. We should do these things for each other, personally, if we are to retain our humanity and the humanity of the receiver. Most of the programs offering these services combine some level of government aid (counseling services, social workers, food aid, housing aid $$, grant money) with privately run boots-on-the-ground nonprofit programs.

Why don't you take a look as to what's actually available for those in your community (for those who go looking for it) and find out more exactly what is lacking before you try to reinvent the wheel. Mostly what's lacking is warm bodies willing to do the work and private individuals willing to stroke a check regularly, that's all!
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Old 11-19-2014, 03:02 PM
 
4,367 posts, read 3,556,691 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkarch View Post
How would this work exactly, setting up low cost housing with homelessness as the eligibility criteria? Wouldn't it merely attract more homeless individuals in search of prime in city accommodations at a low cost?

What would the effect be on the low income non-homeless population with regard to rent affordability, if land and other resources are being set aside to one qualified group? For instance, if a low income person was spending $600/mo on rent, let's say half of their take home pay on a place to live, and the 'qualified homeless' housing was $200/mo, why wouldn't they decide to 'qualify' for the lower rent? $400/mo savings would be a HUGE incentive for someone taking home $1200/mo, would it not?

Real world example - Seattle has (or had - not sure how it's changed) a program that allowed young low income women to rent subsidized apartments. A lot of college students on financial aid qualified for these apartments. They were quite a bit nicer and in many cases better located than anything the private market offered to people of similar means. I visited a few of these places without knowing ahead of time they were city subsidized and my reaction was "my god, how do you afford a place like this?!?!?!" The city housing was so much nicer than the typical free market student housing. Newer, modern, working plumbing, relatively spacious and well laid out private studio apartments, buildings had security doors and were located in walkable neighborhoods with good access to transit. They weren't luxurious by any means, but they were quite a bit nicer than what other students could afford. The qualification criteria was set up such that few people could qualify - gender being one of the dis-qualifiers. There were income requirements, but they didn't apply to undocumented income or other money earned from illicit activities, at least not in practice.

Now due to the tight eligibility criteria, it wasn't as if most people could easily move out of their decrepit student hovels and get one of these places. But a lot of people would if they could. Why pay through the nose for substandard housing if something much nicer is available at a similar price, or equal quality at a lower price?
Hmmm, well, that's a lesson learned. No, the rules would have to be constructed in such a way as to ensure that the undeserving do not get into these accommodations. Eligible residents (a) need to be doing some kind of meaningful work, paid or unpaid (not just sitting around the house or going to school), (b) should not be currently receiving financial aid, (c) be able and willing to devote over eighty percent of his or her free time working (hopefully this will deter the lazy college students), (d) should not be eligible to live in a dorm room or other student residence, if available (e) must have successfully completed a thorough assisted housing search in the area and not been able to reasonably qualify for any other available accommodation (meaning that if the kid is working twenty hours per week at McDonald's and there is an okay trailer park with a cheap room available, we refer him or her to the trailer park), (f) must undergo a psychological test, background check, drug screening, and physical test, and (g) must agree to be subjected to a set of house rules, including regular monitoring of all activities in the residence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mkarch View Post
It seems you're also suggesting that urban homeless be transitioned to subsistence farming. If you do a bit of research, that has been tried in many, many societies in recent history. It's not a new or novel idea, nor is it an easy lifestyle. Many people can't continue doing that kind of hard labor later in life and then what?

Subsistence farming itself isn't very sustainable. You should read up on it before convincing yourself that it's a viable solution.

Subsistence agriculture - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fast growing crops and animals with a high reproduction rate, like rabbits and chickens, would hopefully mean that the residents would not run out of food before they could get their supplies built up. Yes, at first the residents would have to rely on donated canned goods and other non-perishables that the shelter provides, but in a few months they would probably be able to supplement their diets with what they produce. Within a year or two, they could probably live exclusively off of what they produce and have a surplus to sell back to the shelter. There are other possibilities, too. They could also raise fresh catfish and eel, both or which bring a nice price at the market.

Last edited by krmb; 11-19-2014 at 03:16 PM..
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Old 11-19-2014, 03:26 PM
 
5,076 posts, read 8,522,061 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmb501 View Post
Hmmm, well, that's a lesson learned. No, the rules would have to be constructed in such a way as to ensure that the undeserving do not get into these accommodations. Eligible residents (a) need to be doing some kind of meaningful work, paid or unpaid (not just sitting around the house or going to school), (b) should not be currently receiving financial aid, (c) be able and willing to devote over eighty percent of his or her free time working (hopefully this will deter the lazy college students), (d) should not be eligible to live in a dorm room or other student residence, if available (e) must have successfully completed a thorough assisted housing search in the area and not been able to reasonably qualify for any other available accommodation (meaning that if the kid is working twenty hours per week at McDonald's and there is an okay trailer park with a cheap room available, we refer him or her to the trailer park), and (f) must undergo a psychological test, background check, drug screening, and physical test.
What you're describing is substantially similar to the programs already in place in many large cities. There are still millions of homeless in spite of this. It's nice to think that "a couple of minor tweaks could solve the problem" but that is wishful thinking.

People who have studied the problem will conclude that item f) is going to be the major sticking point aside from the administrative costs of all other items. f) basically guarantees that most of the current homeless population is going to stay homeless. f) is the most expensive 'problem' to address and currently it's the 'place between prison and the grave' that most of the homeless fall into. It's not a sympathetic position to be in and it's quite obvious that despite your compassion for some of the homeless, you don't really want to address what is going on with this group either.

I suspect this documentary you saw was a well-intentioned piece of propaganda with a goal of misrepresenting the problem and fell for it. However if doesn't seem like it did much good in your case.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kmb501 View Post

Fast growing crops and animals with a high reproduction rate, like rabbits and chickens, would hopefully mean that the residents would not run out of food before they could get their supplies built up. Yes, at first the residents would have to rely on donated canned goods and other non-perishables that the shelter provides, but in a few months they would probably be able to supplement their diets with what they produce. Within a year or two, they could probably live exclusively off of what they produce and have a surplus to sell back to the shelter. There are other possibilities, too. They could also raise fresh catfish and eel, both or which bring a nice price at the market.
Have you ever tried to actually do this even on a small scale? It's not as easy as it sounds. Current estimates are that over a billion people worldwide are subsisting in this fashion. It's not a high standard of living at all and the costs of doing it are far higher than simply giving the urban poor a debit card good at Whole Foods to buy the same diet. Of course, then they aren't spending 15 hours a day doing back breaking labor out in the elements, which you seem to think most people would jump at the chance to do.

Last edited by mkarch; 11-19-2014 at 03:35 PM..
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Old 11-19-2014, 03:34 PM
 
4,367 posts, read 3,556,691 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkarch View Post
What you're describing is substantially similar to the programs already in place in many large cities. There are still millions of homeless in spite of this. It's nice to think that "a couple of minor tweaks could solve the problem" but that is wishful thinking.

People who have studied the problem will conclude that item f) is going to be the major sticking point aside from the administrative costs of all other items. f) basically guarantees that most of the current homeless population is going to stay homeless. f) is the most expensive 'problem' to address and currently it's the 'place between prison and the grave' that most of the homeless fall into. It's not a sympathetic position to be in and it's quite obvious that despite your compassion for some of the homeless, you don't really want to address what is going on with this group either.

I suspect this documentary you saw was a well-intentioned piece of propaganda with a goal of misrepresenting the problem and fell for it. However if doesn't seem like it did much good in your case.
The documentary didn't say anything about the types of homeless in America except that healthy people are often forced to live with sick people. Today's shelters become a breeding ground for crime and drug abuse; they're also a place to hide the mentally ill and those who need much more serious intervention and an unfortunate excuse for people who are in transitional stages to avoid the shelters entirely for fear of getting their valuables stolen or getting physically hurt. For most homeless in America, it's better for them to avoid the shelters and try to find better safer alternatives. I personally don't think it should be that way. I think a homeless person who is, say, living in his car in a parking lot, should be able to get help.

Now, the mentally ill and drug abusers are another story. They need help, too, but they need a different kind of help. They need to be in a different kind of shelter where they are safe from each other, their illnesses, and their addictions. The mentally ill need to get government-funded treatment for their problems, and the drug addicts need to go to shelters that can rehabilitate them and get them off of drugs. They aren't the focus of what I'm proposing, though, because taking care of them would be very expensive for the individual city governments and would require funding from the federal government. Once upon a time, the mentally ill and severely addicted were eligible to take up short-term residence in treatment centers, and they were desirable tenants for half-way houses and assisted living facilities, because the government paid to have them kept.

Last edited by krmb; 11-19-2014 at 03:48 PM..
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Old 11-19-2014, 03:39 PM
 
5,076 posts, read 8,522,061 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmb501 View Post
The documentary didn't say anything about the types of homeless in America except that good people are often forced to live with bad people. Today's shelters become a breeding ground for crime and drug abuse; they're also a place to hide the mentally ill and those who need much more serious intervention and an unfortunate excuse for people who are in transitional stages to avoid the shelters entirely for fear of getting their valuables stolen or getting physically hurt. For most homeless in America, it's better for them to avoid the shelters and try to find better safer alternatives. I personally don't think it should be that way.
There's no easy way to sort people into the 'deserving' vs 'undeserving' groups you propose. Everyone has made mistakes, everyone has problems. Some are worse than others. If it were a black and white issue as you see it of separating the 'good' people from the 'bad' people, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
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Old 11-19-2014, 03:55 PM
 
4,367 posts, read 3,556,691 times
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Originally Posted by Montanama View Post
For "sound homeless" who need a temporary place to stay while they get their feet under them, there are many programs, most often privately run, which are some variation on what you describe. Everywhere. (Well, not the communal farm thing. That is a lovely idea but impractical in the extreme in most cases.) That you were too embarrassed or flustered or....? to access them does not mean they don't exist. Any pastor of a church has a list of resources; school counselors have a list of resources; police/sheriff offices have them, hospitals have them, secondhand stores have them. One doesn't have to look far to find them, which it's not to say it's easy to get access---just that they are there. The program you are describing would be no different.

The problem, for me, is expecting "The Government" to do these things. We should do these things for each other, personally, if we are to retain our humanity and the humanity of the receiver. Most of the programs offering these services combine some level of government aid (counseling services, social workers, food aid, housing aid $$, grant money) with privately run boots-on-the-ground nonprofit programs.

Why don't you take a look as to what's actually available for those in your community (for those who go looking for it) and find out more exactly what is lacking before you try to reinvent the wheel. Mostly what's lacking is warm bodies willing to do the work and private individuals willing to stroke a check regularly, that's all!
Maybe so. I haven't checked extensively. I know there are plenty of places for people to stay while they try to get off of drugs; I don't think we need any more of those.
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Old 11-19-2014, 03:59 PM
 
4,367 posts, read 3,556,691 times
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Originally Posted by mkarch View Post
There's no easy way to sort people into the 'deserving' vs 'undeserving' groups you propose. Everyone has made mistakes, everyone has problems. Some are worse than others. If it were a black and white issue as you see it of separating the 'good' people from the 'bad' people, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
I'm basically talking about the able and willing versus the not able or not willing. There is a difference. The fact that we often don't differentiate is part of the problem. The guy living in his car because his job laid him off is a "bum," just like the guy walking around the street too drunk to stand is a "bum." We pretend there is no difference.
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Old 11-19-2014, 04:22 PM
 
4,367 posts, read 3,556,691 times
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Originally Posted by mkarch View Post



Have you ever tried to actually do this even on a small scale? It's not as easy as it sounds. Current estimates are that over a billion people worldwide are subsisting in this fashion. It's not a high standard of living at all and the costs of doing it are far higher than simply giving the urban poor a debit card good at Whole Foods to buy the same diet. Of course, then they aren't spending 15 hours a day doing back breaking labor out in the elements, which you seem to think most people would jump at the chance to do.
Why do you think it costs so much? Do you have anything to back up your claim? Seeds are cheap, and the animals are not very expensive, either. A pair of rabbits sell for less than ten dollars, and a pair can make many more. There is the matter of making sure the animals are healthy, but the basic medications don't cost much. We're talking wormers and maybe a shot or two for the initial breeders; most people who farm rabbits on their own skip those things, though, and just look the animal over themselves, especially if they're just raising them to eat. (I'm not saying it's a sound decision, but people do it.) People also hunt wild hare and eat it without worrying.
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Old 11-19-2014, 04:32 PM
 
Location: I am right here.
4,915 posts, read 4,074,508 times
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Originally Posted by kmb501 View Post
Why do you think it costs so much? Do you have anything to back up your claim? Seeds are cheap, and the animals are not very expensive, either. A pair of rabbits sell for less than ten dollars, and a pair can make many more. There is the matter of making sure the animals are healthy, but the basic medications don't cost much. We're talking wormers and maybe a shot or two for the initial breeders; most people who farm rabbits on their own skip those things, though, and just look the animal over themselves, especially if they're just raising them to eat. (I'm not saying it's a sound decision, but people do it.)
Why do YOU think it is so cheap?!? If it were as cheap as you seem to think, millions of people would be doing it!!

Quality animal food is not cheap. Hutches, coops, barns, shelter...all need routine maintenance. Vetting is not cheap. Equipment is not cheap. How are you going to feel when the cloud of insects descends on your fields and start chomping? Or when the deer and wild rabbits think your crops look pretty tasty? In a large farmer's field, not as big an issue as in a small plot.

Earlier you said equipment (tractors, etc.) would not be needed. Do you have any idea what kind of physical labor is required to till, plant, weed, and harvest fields without equipment? You mentioned gardening (produce) and crops...not all that on 10 acres!! Ten acres is SMALL!! Produce, maybe, but no way will you harvest near enough hay and grain to make a dent in your livestock's needs for a year. Then you mentioned chickens and rabbits.

Farming is HARD WORK. It does not pay well.
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