Friday, April 08, 2005


Just a thought...

The SAEN has another long story today, starting on the front page, about how you are being mean to homeless people. The story includes this gem: "Four new ordinances have the homeless feeling less at home in downtown San Antonio." Note to the SAEN: they aren't supposed to be living on the streets downtown! Instead of trying to make being homeless more comfortable for them why not try and help them not be homeless? The story also mention a "Festival of Human Dignity" that will be held this Saturday night downtown to "bring attention to the plight of the homeless..." Great, just great. I cannot think of a bigger waste of time. Instead of lobbying for toilets in Travis Park maybe they could redirect that energy towards job training; something to help the homeless not be homeless. Although, if there aren't any homeless the 20 or so people who will be attending the Festival won't have anything to make themselves feel better. So I ask, which is more caring: working to allow the homeless to urinate on the street or finding a way to get them off the street?
Check out these quotes from the homeless:

"We homeless make the city look bad," says Ward, who stayed at the SAMM Shelter for a couple of months but says it's "simpler" just to stay outdoors.

They're why he refuses to sleep in local shelters.

"I love human beings, but these guys are always coughing and sneezing, and they don't cover their mouths," says Little Brother

"I panhandled in your city today," boasts her friend, an inebriated young man named Mikey from Utah. "I peed outside five times. And guess what? Tonight, I'm going to sleep under a bridge or something."

What's thread here? It's that NONE of these people want to or are interested in sleeping in a shlter. Meanwhile, Patti Radle and company are planning to soak SA taxpayers for $10 million to come up with fancy shelters for people WHO WILL NOT USE THEM.
Patti Radle and company are planning to soak SA taxpayers for $10 million to come up with fancy shelters for people WHO WILL NOT USE THEM.

So you think they will build this shelter and it will sit empty and unused? Nonsense. There is no doubt that there are people who will use the shelter and just because you can find examples of some people who might not for whatever reason is not a valid argument against building it.
Let me summarize your argument: If we can't help EVERYBODY, then we should help NOBODY.
There is no doubt that there are people who will use the shelter

But there will still be those homeless who choose not to, and, so after the new homeless hotel is finished, we will hear the usual suspects whining that, gosh, there are STILL homeless people, so I guess we'd better build ANOTHER one.

Let me summarize your argument: If we can't help EVERYBODY, then we should help NOBODY.

That sounds very similar to your argument that we shouldn't have liberated Iraq if we weren't going to also liberate Iran, North Korea, et. al. So either we're both right, or we're both wrong.
The fact is that for some, being homeless is just an alternate way of life. During the 80's I used to run into a lot of campsites of the homeless while dirtbiking my way around the city's open lands. I got to know quite a few of them and found that none of them were seeking anything beyond the place they had staked out. One of the more interesting cases was a pair of boys who were living around the Blanco/West avenue area. I talked with them over a couple of years and got to know them pretty well. They had both grown up at Boysville and had met a man who would purchase arrowheads they found on the old Walker Ranch. He would supply them with the raw materials to build their shelters such as plywood and plastic sheeting. He'd even drop them antibiotics when they got sick. They said he was reselling the artifacts to Red McCombs among other collectors. Red apparently would pay a decent price once there were enough artifacts to fill a display. These boys had a shower bag, used a nearby apartment laundry for washing clothes and had made a comfortable pair of "homes" which included an elaborate heating system made from two galvanized wash tubs and stove pipe to carry the smoke outside. Unfortunately, one summer while they were away some young school kids had burned both their houses down. Interestingly, the boys both knew which ones had done it but deemed them too young to retaliate against so they just wrote it off. They never did rebuild anything as impressive. Another older vagrant had apparently watched them and stolen their prized radio which they stashed during the daytime. Other problems were on the lighter side such as when they discovered that a racoon had figured out how to brace himself and open the 5 gallon paint bucket they used for storing food.

As the arrowheads and artifacts began to dry up, they both started working at the car wash near there. I recall them informing me that they had washed Sonny Melendez's GT1000 and he had failed to give them a tip. No surprise there I suppose. I still wonder about them after all these years. I guess having never had a home, they never really thought they were missing anything.

The others I have met were either slightly mentally disturbed or just rather disturbing. Either way, they didn't quite fit in with society. But then look at me. I made one mistake many, many years ago and ended up with two drug felonies on my record. As a result, even though I make a good, legal living, I am restricted as to where I can rent an apartment. Due to the supposedly "fairness" of the law that prevents discrimination, any complex renting to me must also allow rapists, murderers, etc access. So I lied on the application, passed the background check and have been waiting for the shoe to fall for the last 7 years. Fortunately, I've now bought a house and that is over but I have lost out on many opportunities over the years due to my past indiscretions. But then, I'd never have developed the entrepreneurial skills I have now. C'est la vie.
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