Ahh, Rick Baker, you've finally got the homeless problem all figured out.

Just arrest them for it. Oh, and sweep them under the rug before the Republican debate, because that might look bad.

So I’m posting from a protest, using Starbuck’s wireless. How punk rock is that?*

Here’s the gist. My city has had a growing homeless problem ever since developers came in and started tearing down affordable homes and apartments to make way for condos and retail plazas. Now the bottom’s fallen out of the market, and you have situations like I have next door- affordable apartments for nearly 200 people were razed, to make way for townhomes. Of course, when the market crashed, they ditched the plans. So what once was affordable housing for hundreds is now a vacant lot.

More and more building have converted into condos (I think the number was somewhere around 4,000 units in 2005) so the working poor have been edged out of their homes.

The homeless population burgeoned dramatically. In an effort to provide a sense of community, stability, and to provide for practical needs like shleter St. Vincent de Paul (a Catholic charity dedicated to helping the homeless) allowed the homeless to camp out near their soup kitchen (using tents provided by a charitable soul). The city kicked the homeless off the public streets, so they moved to a lot owned by St. Vincent de Paul. Well, then the city decides it’s illegal to sleep in a tent on private property, and the SPPD attacked the tents (private property!) with boxcutters.

The city has done virtually nothing about the homelessness epidemic. We have very few shelters as it is, and many shelters have time limits on how long you are allowed to stay or don’t accept families. After political pressure due to the boxcutter incident, the city has decided to allow an outdoor shelter with tents. Oh, like the tent city. But no- on the other end of town, actually in unincorporated Pinellas County, a good 2 busrides from downtown where most of the homeless are.

And this new tent city? It won’t accept families- so homeless children are SOL. Not to mention it will only provide shelter for 250 people, a fraction of the thousands of homeless in the city.

But it’s worse than that. The city recently passed an ordinance that the homeless can be arrested for sleeping on the street if there’s shelter space available. Yes, that will surely fix the problem. :rolleyes: Of course, having to beg for money, searching through trash cans for food or the odd can that you can sell for 50 cents a pound, not being able to shower, and living in constant fear of violence, that couldn’t possibly be enough of a deterrant. And what are the homeless supposed to do, take a cab across town to get to the shelter on the off-chance there’s a bed available?

So activists organized a protest outside the upcoming Republican debate, to “shame” the city into action. It started on Sunday, and includes a hunger strike (for the activists- the homeless are being fed). My boyfriend, the aspiring photojournalist, hasn’t slept or eaten in nearly 48 hours, and has been interviewing and photographing the homeless and activists. Some of their stories would break your heart.

Anyhow, onto the pitting.

A hearty “fuck you” to

[li] CNN, whose crew spent the morning harassing the homeless and activists with idiotic shouts from across the street.[/li][li] the City of St. Petersburg, for caring more about the money than showing compassion to other human beings.[/li][li] The St. Petersburg Police Department, for laughing about the 60-odd people they ROR’ed from jail to make room for the homeless they’ll be arresting starting on December 1st. Oh, and for harrassing me for parking in a loading zone for 5 minutes while handing out bottles of water to the homeless. Fuckbitches.[/li][li] Mayor Rick Baker, for being an ignorant, uncaring douchebag.[/li][/ul]

However, (I know this is out of place for a pitting) a humble thanks for the fine folks at Starbucks and the Hilton, who have been gracious hosts to their new sidewalk tenants, and provided coffee and donuts this morning.

  • I bought a drink, so I’m not stealing their wireless.

Developers can’t do squat without the local politicians giving them favorable zoning and other ordinances. You’re right to call the city rulers out for it. But then again, that’s the nature of public property: whoever is in charge politically calls the shots. Incidentally, the sweep-away of street bums happens with every political event from conventions to speeches to debates.

Take a couple of the homeless home with you when you leave Starbucks. I bet sleeping on the floor or the couch would be a lot better than a tent this time of year.

I actually have offered my couch to a homeless person on more than one occasion, in addition to giving money, food, and cigarettes, and volunteering for St. Vincent de Paul.

As for the weather, this is Florida, so it’s about 75 degrees out right now. (In fact, our weather is one reason we have such a high homeless population- it swells every winter).

Out of curiosity, how do you tell who is trustworthy enough to make the offer to? A good talk would probably screen out the most seriously mentally ill, but not necessarily the addicts who’d rob you to feed a drug or alcohol habit.

Good lord, please be very careful about that. Many of those people are mentally or emotionally unstable and could be a danger to you, your family, and your property. Volunteering at the missions and whatnot is a great idea. But don’t give pearls to swine, as they say.

I call BS. The “homeless” people I see have more problems than lacking affordable housing. They are drunks, addicts, or mentally ill. If there were $100 a month apts available they would just spend the $100 on drugs and get evicted for not paying rent.

Housing prices in cities is high because it is desirable, and the closer you get to the middle of a geographic area the less land is available. That means some people may need to move further out. That’s tough, but people don’t get to live where they want. If they did, I’d have a nice pied a terre in Paris.

The issue is not “affordable housing”, it’s a more general problem of how to deal with addiction, mental illness, and poverty.

We own a store in a downtown area. We have homeless people crapping and pissing in our doorway. The public bathrooms are closed because the homeless used them as shooting gallerys or places to turn tricks. I’m not sure why people who live, shop, and work downtown have to put up with the filth, crime, and constant begging that the homeless create.

I’ll gladly pay higher taxes to do something substantive, but pretending that the onlu problem pepole have is a lack of “affordable housing” is a joke.

Oh, don’t worry about me just letting strangers sleep on my couch. One pair was a guy I knew from high school, and his girlfriend. They were homeless by choice (they travel the country by bicycle), and had come back to visit the family after a year in New Orleans. He’d worked as a line cook to provide the bare necessities, and she’d volunteered to help the victims of Hurrican Katrina. The other guy was a FOAF with some pretty serious medical problems who’d recently been thrown out because he couldn’t pay the bills.

I don’t go out at night inviting bums into my home.

No, I agree that a lot of the homeless have very serious problems like addiction and mental illness. But many more than you know have serious problems befall them at the worst possible time, and find themselves with no where to go.

Case in point: Sarge, one of the people my BF interviewed. He lost his leg to a carjacker’s shotgun, then his wife died shortly thereafter. Due to bureaucratic delays, he didn’t get any disability or Medicaid benefits for nearly a year, by which time he’d lost his home and all his belongings.

But affordable housing is a serious problem for those in his situation. The Times recently ran an rticle about it, about how to be able to afford an average one-bedroom apartment, you’d have to make $14 an hour or work 80 hours a week at minimum wage. The point of the article was that a lot of the working poor have found themselves without a home because rents have skyrocketed.

You have both embarassed, and educated me, by being so reasonable.

checks forum

That’s not allowed here, is it? Maybe I should have called you a twat. :wink:

Sorry to keep posting to my own thread, but I wanted to add something.

As DanBlather points out, addiction and mental illness is a huuuge problem among the homeless population. The whole point of this protest is that something really needs to be done to solve this problem, something that goes a lot further than a hot meal and a warm bed for the night.

One of the organizers of this protest is a man named Bruce Wright. He’s a pastor, and for the 10 years that I’ve known him has done his best to fight for the homeless. He used to run a ministry, called the Refuge. It was a mish-mash of many things- small homeless shelter, soup kitchen, chapel, food pantry. He paid for it by using the front part of the building as a safe concert venue for the local punk rockers (this is how I met him). No drugs, no alcohol, no fighting. So on the weekends, the local kids had a safe place to go. And the rest of the time, he offered assistance to those in need.

But when the developers came in… oh no, this building was smack in the middle of profitable territory. So the city shut it down, citing health concerns because the homeless people it attracted might be pissing in the alley.

He tried, again and again, to start programs or open shelters, but the city continued to fight him. He’s now involved in another program for those recovering from alcoholism and addiction. It runs about a dozen halfway houses for anyone who truly wants to stay sober and will work to pay the quite reasonable rent that doesn’t even begin to cover the costs of running the program. So, it is keeping these men and women sober and off the streets.

That’s what these activists want to do- have more shelters, including long-term housing like these halfway houses, so that those with serious addiction or mental health problems can get the help they need, learn new skills, and get jobs.

That’s what needs to happen. St. Vincent de Paul does a wonderful job at providing the homeless with a hot meal and a place to go. But there will always be a homeless population unless somebody cares enough to provide the serious support and rehabilitation these people need to get off the streets.

One thing the Bush admin got right (yes, I was stunned) was by dropping the requirement that the mentally ill and addicted homeless must first be free of alcohol and drugs before being given assistance with housing.

Instead, they got people housed, and then provided them with access to rehab and mental health services, and amazingly enough, a fair portion (not quite the majority, but close) got better!

And this was among the hard-core homeless, those 15% of homeless people who stay homeless for year after year, and chew up the most resources.

Sadly, funding was inadequate to expant the program outside of a few urban locations.

I’ll try to track down my notes on this later.

Yeah, in one of my links (about the protestors being moved across the street for security reasons) they mention an argument wherein someone (the page is not loading now, so I don’t know if it was someone from the city or someone organizing the debate) makes the brilliant statement that

“Homelessness isn’t a St. Petersburg problem, it’s a federal problem.”

While I agree that there should be federal funding for these types of programs, that doesn’t mean you have to complete asshats in the meantime, and try to push the homeless somewhere where the better-off won’t have to see them on their morning jog. These people just want to look the other way.

Shit, the people in Pinellas just overwhelmingly approved the “Penny for Pinellas” which is an extra 1% sales tax, to provide money for public programs. Take some of that money and fund some of these programs I’ve described- you’ve got many people, sitting on the sidewalk outside the Hilton right now, who are willing to do the work, they just need some funding (and they need the city to stop fighting them at every step).

If you want it just plain fucked up, leave it the way it is. If you want it royally fucked up beyond all recognition, establish a federal Department of the Homeless. Do you really want a No Bum Left Behind bill?

My bum is always left behind.
Good on you, RedRoses. When I saw the protests on the news I was tempted to join in but I have to work or I will be homeless, too. This city’s treatment of the homeless is pretty embarrassing.

For the vast majority of homeless people, their condition is 100% their own fault. Furthermore, it is not the federal government’s responsibility to take care of homeless people. If a state or city wants to do it - fine. But it’s not the federal government’s responsibility.

It’s not the only problem, but it is part of the problem. In my neighborhood, there is a single-room occupancy residence for men, and a lot of guys who are a step away from homelessness live there. There is talk that it may close, and I am sure it will spill a lot of the residents onto the street. Of course, we already have plenty of homeless in addition, so these kinds of affordable residences aren’t the only answer, but without it I have no doubt that the problem would be worse.


Well, thanks, but I haven’t done much besides giving out a bunch of Zephyrhills water that had lay forgotten in the back of my car. I had to work today, too. My BF’s the one who’s really involved, he’s hoping to document some of the people’s stories to put a face on the problem, as it were.

I just know that I would be homeless today if it weren’t for my family. I’ve struggled a lot with mental illness myself, including being unable to hold a job at some points in my life, and I would be out on the street if it weren’t for a few kind souls who lent me money or cooked me dinner or let me use their internet to look for a job. If I didn’t have that, I’d be in the same boat as the people sleeping on the sidewalk tonight.

Very punk rock, apparently. In fact, there’s nothing more punk rock than spending $4+ on a cappuccino made by a guy with almost no training who pulls the espresso shots by pushing a button.

As for pigs, the vast majority are filthy, and I’m to the point where I just assume that any cop I meet is nothing more than a grown-up elementary school bully with an all-too-adult taste for money and prestige.

This is vastly more mundane, but this last Saturday night there was a free concert in an unused portion of a parking lot on Newport Ave. It was 9 PM, and that part of Newport (just a couple of blocks from the beach) is full of bars, so it’s safe to assume there weren’t any sleeping people around to be bothered. The cops rolled up and forcibly disbanded the concert because the people who put it on didn’t apply for some obscure permit, which probably just amounts to an illegal tax anyway.

Because state governments got tired of running mental hospitals in the 80s, and decided to dump the mental patients out on the street for the people who live, shop and work downtown to (apparently) treat.

It’s important for everybody to stop and take note of the fact that the city is spending perfectly good money fighting the people who want to solve the problem for the long run, when they could be spending the exact same money on solving it.

Ah, I see the God of Statistics has come in to educate us. While I don’t doubt your omniscience, would you care to actually support your claim?