Wednesday, October 8, 2008

more homeless stuff

The AJC highlights the folks who try to help homeless folks get off the streets.  These are the sorts of services provided by the Gateway Center that I whole-heartedly support.  
Within three to four months of intense case management and support services, Biswas said, more than 30 percent move on to permanent housing.

“That’s the real success for us,” he said.

It used to be the homeless had to get rid of their addiction or stabilize their mental illness before they could earn an apartment.

“Now we take them from the street and move them into an apartment, no questions asked,” said Biswas. “In the old model, the majority dropped out of the program. In this model, 80 percent stay in housing.”

Across the park, Hunter jars another man stretched across the cold ground from his sleep. The man curses, gets up, slings on his backpack and stumbles off into the distance.

“Until folk are ready to make a change,” Hunter says, “all we can do is keep trying.”
There is also an unrelated photo gallery of one homeless woman's daily struggle here.  Some interesting items - she has a bed under the CNN Center viaduct, like three feet from an active railroad track; she takes a shower daily at the Gateway Center; she is a self-described addict.  

When I was working for a company trying to redevelop a vacant building downtown, I constantly had to ask people to stop using the building as a bathroom or a bedroom.  I'm etertnally grateful to our maintenance staff that I never had to clean anything up.  People sold drugs in other vacant properties nearby.  Other folks broke in to the building and stole copper from active water pipes, flooding the basement.  

When I first started dealing with the situation, I thought, "surely there is some win-win situation where they can get help and I can get them off the property."  I called the Task Force, tried to get in touch with the Police's HOPE unit.  I'm not sure what I expected, but no one was really helpful.  The Task Force told me to get them arrested, that they knew better.  

I'd call the cops to get people arrested for trespassing, and then have to sit there and argue with the cops that yes, I'd told this guy to leave every day for the last week and he was fully aware my building was not a place for him to sleep.  Then he'd be on the street again the next day.  

It is hard not to get all bleeding heart-liberal reading these articles.  My sympathy for the homeless seems to be inversely proportional to my daily interaction with them.  Going to GSU, just walking through Woodruff Park, I don't get riled a whole lot anymore.  I realized yesterday that I don't really have a huge problem with Woodruff Park.  I mean, I wish there weren't so many homeless folks there, but they largely don't bother anyone, and the CAP Chess court and Reading Room bring some sense of order to it all.  So far, the public bathroom doesn't seem to be a mistake.  My issue is with the folks smoking crack, trespassing, soiling property, breaking and entering, sleeping on sidewalks, and harrassing pedestrians.

At the end of the day I end up about where the case worker in the article above does.  Of course we have a duty to help those who are mentallly ill.  But at least half the folks in the article above are self-described addicts or alcoholics.  Until folks are ready to make a change, there isn't a lot that you can do.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.