Home for the homeless
Posted: 20 January 2013 08:44 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Solutions to the homelessness problem? Those are at best hit and miss.

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Posted: 20 January 2013 09:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Possible ideas for discussion/evaluation…
1.  Improved and enhanced alcohol treatment programs.
2.  Rather than suggesting social services are not “vital” and are “hammocks”, look at ways to better assist those who have fallen on difficult times.
3.  Demand a responsibility to community from local organizations such at the Chamber.  Front page, today, stories the annual pilgramage of 250 local business people… plus spouses, girlfriends/boyfriends, kids, etc…. to Kansas City for a retreat.  Holding these events in our community would mean just that many more hours for blue collar kitchen staff, housekeeping staff, banquet staff, etc.
4.  Require recruitment of a specific number of representatives to social servcie committees who have been homeless or have suffered through times of unemployment.  Currently, we fill the committes with “do-gooders” and those who look at how best to care for people AFTER they have fallen on hard times.  The agencies should be be more concerned with finding ways to prevent homelessness. 
5.  We champion sales taxes where the cost of food for the less fortunate costs more.  We applaud the ‘free enterprise’ system where local fuel costs are controlled by a group of one or two entities, resulting in it being more difficult for the less fortunate to afford transportation to meaningful employment.  Look at alternatives where those who become wealthy don’t do so by putting people on the streets.
6.  Require drug and alcohol testing before one can collect unemployment benefits and/or social service stipends.  Require treatment for those who test positive.
7.  Demand better enforcement of how social service stipends are used.  A local grocery store sells a “premium” milk in glass containers.  Those containers require a deposit and can be returned for cash.  Milk… even this premium brand in the glass containers… can be purchased with social service assistance program cards/coupons.  It has been reported this milk is being purchased in large quantities… 5 to 7 gallon at a time… taken to the store parking lot and dumped down storm drains.  The glass containers are then returned to the store for cash.  That cash can, then, be used to purchase cigarettes, lottery tickets, or street drugs.  Remove the items that come in containers which can be returned for cash from the program benefits. 

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Posted: 20 January 2013 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Larry:  Some interesting observations.  I think Alan West coined the term that the safety net should not become a hammock.  That should not be interpreted to mean that social services are not vital and that all social services should be eliminated.  It means that abuses like the milk bottles you mention in item seven should be eliminated.  Safety net is the means to help; hammock is the abuse of the system.  I spoke with one individual about the homeless situation last year and they suggested that we should be careful in that “if we built it, they will come”.  Their point was that no matter how big of a shelter is built, it will always be full.  The article today sort of supported that view – we attract homeless.  The statistical profile was interesting, but seemed to leave out one key metric that relates to the concept of we attract homeless, where are the folks from and how did they arrive in Manhattan?  That metric would maybe address item five – is it Manhattan sales taxes and the evil folks that run the gas stations that are the root cause of the homeless situation?  Or is it the high cost of rent (property taxes) and affordable housing that is a more evident cause of the homeless rate?  The Manhattan Emergency Shelter should continue to be the top priority in a list of agencies to fund through SSAB.  The funding for Pawnee Mental Health Services should be increased through higher allocation from the Special Alcohol Board.  In item three you demand a responsible community and strike at the Chamber and local business people for attending a retreat.  But maybe the emphasis should be on the entire village taking part in the process.  Should not the responsible community donate to the vital causes?  But only 102 of the citizens of the city donate to SSAB and the emergency shelter through the water bill donation program (over 15000 water meters in the city).  Does your comment in item three fit the majority of the citizens, are they in the same mold as the Chamber?  We should all applaud the efforts of Emily Wagner, Amanda Appelgren, those that staff MES, PMH, the citizens that donate to MES either direct or through the water bill program and of course the volunteer members of the Cities Social Services Advisory and Special Alcohol Board.  The question posed – solution for the homeless – will never be solved.  It can only be mitigated.

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Posted: 22 January 2013 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Both of you are wrong.  manhattan, Kansas is no magnet for out-of-town homeless…too cold.  I spent several years in Tucson, AZ.  That is a magnet for homeless people.  Nice and warm so you can sleep in the park pretty much year-round.  California, being smart, in the 80’s bought all the homeless bus tickets to Tucson and shipped them there.
Wynn, I am not sure I buy into your theory that if we build a bigger shelter, we will attract more homeless people.  I think your approach is more like my home state.  Buy them all bus tickets to Tucson.  It is cheaper in the long run, and we won’t have to look at them.
Then we can put a hotel where the homeless house used to be.  It will be Tucson’s problem, not Manhappiness

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Posted: 22 January 2013 08:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Wynn Butler - 20 January 2013 10:52 AM

I spoke with one individual about the homeless situation last year and they suggested that we should be careful in that “if we built it, they will come”.  Their point was that no matter how big of a shelter is built, it will always be full.  The article today sort of supported that view – we attract homeless.  The statistical profile was interesting, but seemed to leave out one key metric that relates to the concept of we attract homeless, where are the folks from and how did they arrive in Manhattan?

Wishing the homeless would just disappear is no kind of solution. That’s what the individual you spoke to was implying, and your comments have a whiff of that as well. It doesn’t matter how people without homes “got” here. I agree with Hadley that it’s not likely MHK attracts homeless. It’s a small town with a police force that is more than willing to ask why you’re in the park at 1:00 AM, there’s extreme weather conditions, only recently did we get very limited public transport, and a lot of people who don’t believe in helping the unfortunate live here.

You speak of us working as a community, but homelessness isn’t a mere community-level thing. It’s a nationwide problem. Manhattan CAN do its small part to help this bigger problem by helping the homeless in our community. Jobs, social services, homes, training, support, it’s all important, and almost all of it would be used by the non-homeless as well.

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Posted: 22 January 2013 09:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I agree that we cannot wish away the homeless, some are homeless by choice and others by circumstance.  As Michael mentioned they could be bused to warmer climates.  I am not suggesting wishing them away or busing them out of town.  The point was that if we are going to gather demographic data and information – like how many of the homeless are veterans (part of the article) then maybe we could collect information on how they got here (also part of the article the section marked - we attract homeless).  That data might actually prove Michaels point, that we do not attract homeless.  This is one of several issues that will not have a solution.  I do agree that Manhattan plays a part in the homeless issue.  MES should be top slot on any SSAB funding list.

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