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Gang up on the Homeless

Improve the odds with a team...
  (+9, -1)(+9, -1)
(+9, -1)
  [vote for,

Having pondered the homeless problem in various cities for a while, something has occured to me.

In most cases, ratios work something like this:

One under-paid social worker is assigned a dozen or so homeless people to try to get help for. Result = barely effective results.

What I'm suggesting here is a shift in the odds.

Something like one homeless person to a dozen or so people willing to help.

How? Not so simple, but what about this:

We establish a system/network that doesn't use the traditional social-worker type systems and begins to recruit volunteers and other interested people (and resources) to direct energy into a new sort of program where many people would "gang up" on only one homeless person.

Sort of a "two (or many) heads are better than one" approach. The expectation here is that an individual's particular needs (i.e. why he's homeless in the first place) have a better shot at being cured if many people are paying attention to him.

Additionally, it seems that there would be more willingness for volunteers to help in this sort of program if they were helping a single individual.

Under this program, the paid (unfortunately, still not too much) social worker's role would then transition into one of "team coordination" instead of direct assistance.


zigness, Mar 22 2004

Everyone can get Welfare Benefits http://www.halfbake...0welfare_20benefits
Halfbakureaucracy [dpsyplc, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

(??) Surviving life in your car http://www.homeless...s_living_in_car.htm
[Klaatu, Apr 19 2005]

My "bible" on the road http://www.wififreespot.com/
[Klaatu, Apr 19 2005]

Oxford Biology Q&A (See last paragraph) http://www.oup.com/.../exercises/ch02.pdf
The word "Niche" in context so as those unfamiliar may understand [MikeD, May 19 2008]

not espoused by any actual biologist... http://en.wikipedia...ki/Social_Darwinism
... that I've heard of, any time in the last fifty years. [pertinax, May 22 2008]


       Easily enough done under the Bush plan -- no social worker left behind. Data files exist for all social service workers burned out by past encounters with homeless person "X"; all past helpers are reconvened and serve as the type of caucus your [zigness] is proposing. Never know; might work.
dpsyplc, Mar 22 2004

       your zigness: what you are proposing is communal charity, something invented by the Biblical Jews, if not earlier.
DrCurry, Mar 22 2004

       Most homeless people just want to be left alone. Sometimes they just don't want to pay rent and don't mind showering twice a week at the local YMCA. I did it for a year and a half in Oakland during the tech boom when the cost of housing was simply beyond my reach. The biggest nuisance was the police, who are (in the instance of harassing the homeless) just the lackeys of land owners (frequently absentee) interested in inflating the value of their property.   

       I say this because as soon as a group of homeless people begin helping themselves, self-organizing into a camp and working on addiction problems, sanitation, etc. is when the city breaks up the camp. I've seen it happen so many times. . . . There are definitely a minority of severely schizophrenic people out there who need help, but mostly it's people who want to be left alone.   

       Rather than gang up on the homeless, try convincing the police to fight crimes more consequential than vagrancy.
Mungo, Mar 22 2004

       Actually, I had work, (Semifreddi's Bakery delivery driver) but during the tech bubble in the bay area I would have been spending around 60% of my paycheck on rent - and I was making $11/hour. So I bought a school bus instead and did it up. Overall it wasn't that bad, except for the police (they always come at night) and the general nervousness I experienced living in a vehicle that was parked on the side of the street.
Mungo, Mar 22 2004

       Please, let's talk about what the central idea would mean to a homeless person. (+if the title were changed to solemnize the feeling; and dispel trolls)
dpsyplc, Mar 22 2004

       1 Krishna 2, "No change, you say? Change comes from within."
dpsyplc, Mar 22 2004

       For very personal reasons, I give this a [+]   

       Thank you Audrey, Duane, Glen and the myriad others for never giving up on me.
Klaatu, Mar 23 2004

       What started out as an idea to adjust the infrastructure that is existing social work in an effort to make it more efficient and more effective (by leveraging various volunteer resources into activities that would actually pay off for a few instead of something that I believe to be largely ineffective for the masses) has wandered its way into something that feels like advocacy.   

       I'll let it go for a bit, and then we'll see. I might have to mfd it myself.
zigness, Mar 23 2004

       //Most homeless people just want to be left alone.//

Very true, but I'm torn on this idea. Recently, I got sick of eating Ramen Noodles with soy sauce just to afford rent, and I was living with a revolving cycle of anywhere from 6 to 11 other people in the same house at the same time (who had no jobs, sold drugs, and partied nonstop. Fun for a while, but I had a job and couldn't sleep). I wound up renting a garage unit for a few hundred a month in a really bad part of town in the middle of winter so I could save some money and break out of my situation. The door had holes in it and was slightly bent, having been pried into at some point, and graffiti was all over, including the word "RAPE" spraypainted about 10 feet away on the wall. It was cold, and all I had was a small space heater that didn't do nearly enough. There was a drain in back that became my urinal, and I usually played X-Box to stay entertained. My bed was in there, nice and warm, so that was great. I lied to my family about my living situation because I didn't want help, and I couldn't have anyone come over so I was always there by myself.

A few people found out and kept trying to get involved, but I really just wanted to be left alone. Luckily, one of my friends made me stay on his couch at his apartment, because he thought I might die since I was never in warm shelter. I drove a soft top Jeep Wrangler that usually had a foot of snow in back, worked in a poorly-heated shop, and stayed (illegally) in a garage with no heat.
So, on the one hand, I wanted to be left alone and deal with it on my own.
On the other hand, I don't know what would have happened had Steve not said "you're staying at my apartment so you don't die or go crazy." I'm thinking this idea would be good, if done properly.
Oh, and now you guys know why I was gone for a few months.
AfroAssault, Apr 19 2005

       Wow, [AA]--sounds like an adventure!   

       [zigness], I thought from the title that this was going to be about beating the homeless to a collective pulp, and was ready to come on and say that it was half-baked in A Clockwork Orange, and their slang was much cooler.   

       I usually fishbone ideas that give me something completely different than I thought it would be from the title, on a basis of disappointment. But I can't live with myself being disappointed about an idea *not* being about committing acts of violence on homeless people. So I'm neutral on this.
disbomber, Apr 19 2005

       [Afro] I can understand your position intimately. I have the luxury of wireless connectivity and a reasonably denpendable car. I can apply for work and have a way to keep "in touch". I would like for some of the larger cities to include free WiFi in their parks where the homeless gather. I was able to finally get a job and have now graduated to the ranks of the "working homeless".   

       Sometimes, homeless people just need a place to plug in extension cord to run a printer to print resumés, or to wash clothes or to take a bath. I am not asking for anything special...just a place where I can try to get out of this hole.
Klaatu, Apr 19 2005

       I also had images of "A Clockwork Orange" in my head when I saw the title. I like the idea, though.
Zimmy, Apr 19 2005

       The same government inefficiency exists in international travel. If you have a criminal record, shoddy immigration record keeping, or have never left the States you will find half a dozen Department of Homeland Security specialists ready to assist you. However, if you are Joseph Six-pack and just want to fly home for a funeral, you'll sit on hold at some nondescript 800 number for hours waiting to talk to one of the two people who process passport requests.
reensure, Apr 19 2005

       I'm not sure I understand what [reensure] was talking about, but in Arizona it was really easy to get a passport. Involved a fair bit of fees, of course, but all I had to do was go to the passport office near my school. Maybe the only reason it was so easy there was because it was a college town and they expected a lot of kids to be flying to Paris and Amsterdam, but I would imagine it's no tougher anywhere else in the US.
disbomber, Apr 19 2005

       Zig, good idea. But in these situations 'softly, softly' is always the best way. It's tricky and heartbreaking.
weedy, Apr 20 2005

       Sorry [disbomber]. What I meant to say was that as a foreign citizen in the US, it is easier to get assistance from the US government if one has a shady past. Why? Well, the proportion of specialists to applicants is greater than it is when you join the larger queue of applicants in line to see the generalist.
reensure, Apr 20 2005

       Ah! So what you're saying is if one plans to emigrate into the US it's a good idea to get a few big Coast Guard confiscations in first.
disbomber, Apr 20 2005

       just remembering the random button!
po, May 18 2008

       I know I am about to get tarred and feathered but, here it goes:   

       1. You can't save people, because the person that is holding them back is themselves.   

       2. If someone cannot make it on thier own, then granting them special priveliges/resources is just going to compound the issue.   

       3. I know, one point you will have against this is "Sometimes people hit a streak of bad luck". My retort; Shit happens. Sometimes people hit a good streak of luck. Should we take from them to give to the other just to even things out? Life is an adventure, not a buffered equilibrium.   

       4. Most HB posters are avid darwin fans, tell me; Why do you so strongly appose natural selection? We take from the species when we try to save the unable/unwilling.
MikeD, May 19 2008

       [miked] in the UK, a significant proportion of the homeless are ex-servicemen. I don't imagine the situation is much different in the US
coprocephalous, May 19 2008

       Each organism finds it's niche. How many repeat offenders build better (not morally) lives behind bars than they can out side? Students that excel in academia wind up as teachers. I would, indeed not, find it suprising that an ex-infantryman, veitnam vet found the anarchy and animalism of a homeless lifestyle more suitable. Point is, everybody is where they are because they put themselves there.
MikeD, May 19 2008

       //Each organism finds it's [sic] niche//
Haven't got around to "Origin of Species" yet, [MikeD]?
AbsintheWithoutLeave, May 19 2008

       [AWOL] My spelling, whereas the most previous annotation is concerned, is infallable.   

       And to answer your question, No. I read Voyage of the Beagle. But Origin of species is in the queue.
MikeD, May 19 2008

       sp. "infallible"
AbsintheWithoutLeave, May 19 2008


       //[AWOL] My spelling, whereas the most previous annotation is concerned, is// not // infallable.//
MikeD, May 19 2008

       How many homes does a homeless need?   

       el dueno
el dueno, May 22 2008

       <two cents' worth of tar and feathers>
//You can't save people// My experience suggests otherwise.

       //If someone cannot make it on thier own// No-one truly makes it on their own. Have you ever heard of a lifelong hermit who's "made it"?   

       //Life is [...] not a buffered equilibrium// That's a matter of political choice, not an absolute fact.   

       //Most HB posters are avid darwin fans// I think you might have missed the point of Darwin. There's a great difference between, on the one hand, actual Darwinism ("evolution happens") and, on the other hand, what is called Social Darwinism ("we need to give evolution a helping hand by abandoning people in difficulty"). Note Darwin's own words on the subject: "Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature."
</two cents' worth of tar and feathers>

       You're not an idiot, [MikeD], and I'm not trying to pick a fight with you, but there are some things in what you've said which don't tally with what I've seen.
pertinax, May 22 2008

       //The word "Niche" in context so as those unfamiliar may understand [MikeD//
My understanding of Darwin is that the niche engenders the species, not that the species "finds" the niche.
Or is this splitting hairs?

Well put, [pertinax]
coprocephalous, May 22 2008


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