Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Credit Cards For The Homeless

tl;dr: it's a card that has a steady amount of income every day, so they don't need to beg on the streets
  (+3, -1)
(+3, -1)
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Homelessness is pretty much everywhere it seems these days. The reason given is often either due to the character of the homeless or their mental state.

However mental health issue should not be an excuse to being homeless really... since it means the person has no self agency and needs to be in specialized care. The current system we have rewards mentally ill homeless who are violent, since that means they will go to jail away from street. While those who are not violent are left to suffer.

As for the current system of begging. It seems rather inefficient and very degrading for those stuck in that position.

I'm just wondering if we should just ban begging all together, and just give all homeless individuals a good amount of money each day with no strings attached (e.g. If you got the card, you cannot beg. You can beg only if you don't have the card). It's not as if we could follow the money after we donate to a beggars, but we can certainly follow the money if it was a government agency tasked with ensuring that the homeless do have the financial choice and freedom to make economic decision that may get them out of trouble (e.g. dry cleaning, transport, for work). It's kind of libertarian in some sense, but also kind of socialistic in another.

Plus, if homeless have the ability to spend better in a more consistent manner, then naturally sellers will start adapting their services to making it easier for homeless users to use.

Lastly, by centralizing their income to a basic income scheme, rather than a distributed source like begging. Researcher, sociologist, and welfare workers will have another source of data to tap into, in terms of understanding the homeless spending patterns. As for the homeless, well their community case worker will have a better individualized report for a more one- to-one care. For many who are responsible homeless and not mentally ill, then this wont matter as much. But for those who needs help, this data will get them better care. (Think of it as a filter that allows us to focus specialist health worker's energy on those who really needs it, thus cutting cost overall)

Well that's how I see it. But only issue is I don't know where to start. It's not a matter if we can do it, because homelessness to me is a man made situation, but rather it is a matter of political/societal will. As the sayings goes, it is easier to judge others, than to judge ourselves.

Which in this case, its easier for us to judge the homeless, but harder to judge ourselves as a society.

mofosyne, Dec 02 2014

A similar experiment http://www.thestar....e_credit_cards.html
[the porpoise, Dec 02 2014]

Prepaid Credit Cards With Structured Income Source Prepaid_20Credit_20...d_20Income_20Source
[mofosyne, Dec 02 2014]

On the issue of people needing needing more than money alone to get out of the rut, then combining an app that lets users know of what service is available could be a start. [mofosyne, Dec 04 2014]


       A reporter tried an experiment like this [link]. Your heart's in the right place [+].
the porpoise, Dec 02 2014

       I sold my card.
bungston, Dec 02 2014

       Yea, with such system, the trick is really to make it non- limited and steady and long term.   

       The idea is to remove the paralysing uncertainty of running out of money, and to give people valuable mental energy to focus on being themselves and using their own intelligence to get themselves out of a rut (Or at least to be not in an expensive pit of despair).   

       And if they cannot? Well then this system makes it easier to see those kinds of people, and thus get them the help that they need.   

       This is not the solution, it's a band aid. But better than a festering wound.
mofosyne, Dec 02 2014

       I like the social issue of homelessness. Like most things you can put it on a line. Homeless on one end is not having a home to live in. On the other end it could be not having a national identity. The two things can be connected for example if certain aspects of a national identity may be connected with being inside a home. Double exemplary everything people justify by saying "that's the way we do things here and if you don't like it you can leave". So without even broaching the hypothesis of mental illness, we can say that homelessness is connected to national, state and industrial interests by virtue of these related to having a home. Of course there are also social, religious, ethnic values and things like that which are regulatory. This is an understood phenomena without the hypothesis of mental illness, that rebellion and dysfunction are by degrees of analogy simultaneous. The Calvinist viewpoint about regulation and the home has been the dominant treatment of irregular individuals since psychological reforms in the mid nineteen-seventies, this has even crossed into the domain of hallucination and analogy with the hypothetically mentally ill "carrying a weight" of medication. This was in the wake of revolutionary activities to liberate irrational men from psychiatric persecution from the psychological warfare of the 1940s. This was done in the same respect of other positivist social cleansings at the time of disorderly people that did not correspond to the social ethos. That a positivism can act insidiously even to the extent of making the sociological phenomenon that it propagates the diagnostic tiers for protecting national and state interests is absurd.
rcarty, Dec 02 2014

       If this isn't a universal citizen's income there will be the usual taper traps. E.g get a tiny council flat, lose your allowance card, run out of money, back on the streets.
pocmloc, Dec 03 2014

       pocmloc- yea, everything seems to point towards "universal citizen's income" no matter I much I try to skin the cat. Maybe I'm just not imaginative yet, but seems like that concept is really the only way forward that makes empirical sense.   

       At the very least, this idea might prompt people to explore something like your idea of "universal citizen's income"
mofosyne, Dec 03 2014

       You know, this exact feature is baked into many modern economies; though (in the case with which I am most familiar) the target group is not the homeless per se, but those with no other source of income (the unemployed, elderly and disabled). Most of your "hypothetical" benefits are found to in fact occur: the functional but otherwise homeless are afforded the opportunity to find, and keep, shelter. The granularity of the payment schedule is fortnightly rather than daily, but this is a change of degree and not kind.   

       Modern democratic economies are rather clever that way. Have you considered visiting one?
BunsenHoneydew, Dec 03 2014

       Next up: Greeting cards for the homeless...   

       'Sorry you're out on the street! I hope this card perks you up today as you seek basic shelter! May God, or your choice of supernatural being or otherwise guiding voice in your head keep you safe!'
RayfordSteele, Dec 03 2014

       What today is the remnants of the old Food Stamp program began life as the government buying farm surpluses, packaging it and distributing it via centers that you went to for pickup.   

       Then the gov printed their own food currency and handed that out instead via the mail.   

       Now debit cards good for food stuffs and junk calories are provided to the citizens and recharged as per rules of the day.   

       Not that far from what the idea describes.
normzone, Dec 03 2014

       BunsenHoneydew, wow, long, long, time no see.
blissmiss, Dec 03 2014

       There were attempts to give food vouchers instead of money, but in some places, some homeless said they had no trouble finding food. Any replacement for real help should probably address underlying, longterm issues. If, for example, an aluminum foil hat makes them feel safe, give them some. Or a studio for two weeks, where they can decide if they want to find a way to stay there permanently.
4and20, Dec 04 2014

       — 4and20 - and with money, they can do all these automagically. Unless they are truly mentally stuffed beyond repair, then the spending habits will show for itself (especially if you use algorithms to detect these things, and to automatically send specialist care workers after them.).   

       It takes a massive amount of bureaucracy/energy to work out specifically what somebody wants and to give it to them. But it take near zero effort to just give them the financial freedom to work it out themselves. Plus it's paternalistic, and I hate raising kids.   


       If access to these services are still hard even with some consistent income, then that's where subsidies come into play. But of course ideally, we would all switch everyone to "universal citizen's income" to avoid the taper trap.
mofosyne, Dec 04 2014

       I sort of agree, although I suspect the majority of homeless need more help than money alone. I don't see anyone giving them several months of independent wealth, so if the help is going to be contigent, I'd imagine a certain number would prefer somewhere private to live short term, rather than a debit card which tracks them and sends specialists on their trail. But this is theoretical without talking to at least a few homeless people, which I've done a few times but not enough.
4and20, Dec 04 2014

       If they get a private lodging, then what do they do about food? Go out and beg for more money in the streets? I would rather they spend time actually doing something useful, like studying, socializing, or looking for a job.   

       And with all the chronic underfunding of public housing because of NIMBY, there is not going to be enough housing anyway in the government, compared to the private sector.   

       At least with private sector housing, you'll see entrepreneurs hop on the chance to build pod hotels. Which will incidentally mean that you'll get a mix of people using it, like travelling businessmen, students, etc... all who could be potential networks for homeless living in private sector pod hotels to interact with (and potentially get that leg up into a real job/gig/startups).   

       This is a much different social dynamic, than these same businessmen/students/etc... talking or tossing a coin at these homeless panhandling on the street. The first example is people meeting as social equals, the second example (panhandling) is of a person of two different status. Yes you do get the occasional people sitting down with panhandlers and actually getting the homeless a job, but it's a rare occurrence.   

       Our current model of shoving people into what is essentially ghettos, is only going to create an isolating culture of us vs them. Totally unnecessary. Let them participate in our main society, as equals etc...   


       Anyhow, I agree with you that we really do need more test. The above are just my rational on why we need to investigate if this approach works.
mofosyne, Dec 05 2014


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