December 19, 2012

The Homeless Merry-Go-Round Named Denial

Matthew T. Hall of the Union Tribune just did an editorial: Ending Homelessness in San Diego? Nice Try. After reading it I couldn't help but do a fist pump. Here we have someone examining the obvious and bringing up some very valid points that many homeless advocates don't want to hear (as his interviews with them point out). Yet dozens of experts and advocates who told us that we would "end homelessness" in ten years, eight years ago, are the same ones who are saying we will end it now in 2015 or 2020. What's changed? Anything? It's hard to tell because this merry-go-round spins with its own force making it difficult to get clarity.

Matthew grabs onto the merry-go-round handles and causes it to slow down some, giving us a glimpse of what's on it and what's causing it to spin. Here is what we see:

  • A massive system of enabling. A system of "compassion transactions",  underwriting the destruction of human beings, and eroding the social and economic fabric of our community, all in the name of mercy.
  • No one wanting to admit that this is what we've done because admitting it would mean a very painful process of self examination and accountability
  • Expert "symptom management" operators terrified at the prospect of being put out of business
  • The homeless themselves scoffing at the idea that we will end it
  • Upon closer scrutiny, the merry-go-round's energy source is its investors, its funders, both government and private. And the thing is that it can't spin without money and so we collectively, oddly enough, are the ones spinning it because its our tax dollars.
  • Enabling breeds contempt and creates monsters which must then be slayed or contained which now means...
  • ...we need more money, more programs, more people to contain the problems, which means

It's an endless churn.

The answer? STOP the merry-go-round. Abandon the old play book. Redesign using a new play book. Now imagine walking into a Padre game without having to step over and around 85 human beings.

It can happen. Homelessness can be solved (much different than the word end) by developing more, better and faster access to solutions that take a human being AND a community deeper.

This short video provides one example of why, what and how we can do this:

Changing Attitudes. Rebuilding Lives.

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