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What Went Wrong?


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#1 MaraM

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 11:11 PM

Over and over again we hear about poverty and people being homeless and how strange it seems that this has happened in our so-called 'rich' countries.

In Vancouver, British Columbia city limits alone, apparently there is close to 3,000 people who are homeless (perhaps not an accurate number as many expects say it's difficult to track people since they are homeless - well, dud!). And it's not just men who are homeless, it's the elderly and entire famiies (approx 20 percent of all homeless within Canada are children).

This is surely not an isolated case applying only to Vancouver, rather it seems to everywhere both with Canada and the United States and other 'rich' countries, as well.

Why went wrong, I wonder? Can the situation be 'fixed'? Should I governments perhaps spend less money 'out of country' and pay more attention to what's happening under their noses?
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#2 Orange Blossom

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 11:45 PM

Oh my, this is a huge question and may wind up going into the speak easy. I've got loads of ideas, but I'm going to have to take a number of days to compose my thoughts and express them without going ballistic.

That said, you might be interested in reading some of Jonathan Kozol's work who addresses inner-city poverty and homelessness in several of his books. Rachel and her Children is, I think, the one most focused on that issue without going too much into the educational issues he usually focuses on. What he writes is absolutely chilling. Savage Inequalities also focuses on the huge divide between the wealthy and the poor and how that is reflected in education and educational opportunities.

An exercise that I think everyone should do: Look at the wage and benefit structures of a lot of the jobs in the service industry: fast food, convenience store clerks, department store clerks, nursing assistants etc. then look at the pricing of housing. How many housing units are available that these workers can afford? Here in Bloomington, Indiana the answer is precious few, and that is if you're single. If you have a family it is practically impossible. Now add in the transportation costs. What, if anything, is left over out of the paycheck after paying for the housing? This right here is a huge part of the problem, but only a part.

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#3 tink536

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 11:51 PM

Here in Hawaii, the government has just recently built a whole strew of houses to help the homeless. Which, although it is a good thing, doesn't seem to have made a dent in the homelessness problem here.

In all honesty, most of the homeless don't want anyone to help them. There is a shelter in town, where they can get a shower, food and a cot, but most refuse to go there. Their biggest gripe with that is the lack of privacy, but how much privacy do they expect sleeping on the streets.

An exercise that I think everyone should do: Look at the wage and benefit structures of a lot of the jobs in the service industry: fast food, convenience store clerks, department store clerks, nursing assistants etc. then look at the pricing of housing. How many housing units are available that these workers can afford? Here in Bloomington, Indiana the answer is precious few, and that is if you're single. If you have a family it is practically impossible. Now add in the transportation costs. What, if anything, is left over out of the paycheck after paying for the housing? This right here is a huge part of the problem, but only a part.

This is something that has been getting worse everywhere. There doesn't seem to be anything to keep rent prices or property taxes from going up.

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#4 cowsgonemadd3

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 09:43 AM

Believe it or not alot of the homeless choose to be just that homeless.
They are lazy and dont want to work so they live on the street.

This is not all of them though.

#5 DSTM

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 10:09 AM

Believe it or not alot of the homeless choose to be just that homeless.
They are lazy and dont want to work so they live on the street.

This is not all of them though.

With all due respect CGM3,IN 99% of cases,you couldn't be further from the truth.IMHO.
Live in a big city,befriend some of them,hear their sad histories and I am positive
you will change your views.My post is not meant to flame you in the slightest.

Edited by DSTM, 23 January 2007 - 10:12 AM.















#6 tink536

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 10:20 AM

My opinion would be that most don't want to live the way they have to live, and some choose to live the way they live, or have given up pursuit of a 'normal' life. Or so it seems.
They do get money, I would have to say that some have more money in their pockets than I do.

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#7 Scarlett

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 10:28 AM

Many homeless people have lost their jobs and have had trouble getting back on their feet. One paycheck away from the street is a reality. Also there are homeless people that have physological problems. They are the wandering lost souls of society. So very sad.
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#8 DSTM

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 10:44 AM

My opinion would be that most don't want to live the way they have to live, and some choose to live the way they live, or have given up pursuit of a 'normal' life. Or so it seems.
They do get money, I would have to say that some have more money in their pockets than I do.

Of course most of them don't want to live the way they are living.From my experience,I have found a few of them are what we call "Loners"and a lot of them suffer from depression,and as Scarlett says,Psychological disorders.
Who in their right mind would prefer to live out in the freezing cold under a lump of cardboard box in preference to a home cooked meal and a warm bed.I think they have given on society,and society in the most part has given up on them.It's great that at least some Charities and groups are trying to help these less fortunate.In Sydney we have soup kitchens where they can get a hot meal for free,and now they have mobile soup kitchens as well.

What I forgot to add is a very wealthy retired business man here has bought a large bus,converted into a mobile soup kitchen and with the help of volunteers,is serving 800 meals a day to the homeless.

Edited by DSTM, 23 January 2007 - 11:48 AM.















#9 Orange Blossom

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 01:00 PM

Many homeless people have lost their jobs and have had trouble getting back on their feet. One paycheck away from the street is a reality.


How true. I've been on the verge of homelessness myself in the past even working two jobs. Sometimes it would take a full month's wages to make the rent, and sometimes I was late with the rent because I needed a month and a half to make the money for rent. Other land-lords might have kicked me out. I lived in a rooming house, and the rent included electricity, water, and gas - praise be otherwise I'd have lost the utilities for lack of payment. For 5 years I had no phone much less any other tech. stuff. Most of my clothing belonged in a rag bag, and my undergarments wouldn't even have qualified for rags. Meals consisted of what edible weeds I could find plus mulberries, elderberries and whatever else I could forage. Being taunted while gathering and eating mulberries from trees along a road is not fun. I love mulberries by the way. Fortunately in the food department, I could get square meals at a number of functions at my church and was able at times to take home left-overs. Sometimes housemates would invite me to share a meal with them. Another bit of fortune was the fact that there was a small spot to have a garden. I was able to get some seeds and grow some vegetables: tomatoes and beans were the most productive for me. I washed my clothes by hand in the bathtub, wrung them out by hand, and hung them on the clothes-line. Didn't cost any money that way. I walked everywhere I went. No car - such are frightfully expensive to have and maintain. I didn't have a license anyway. My bike was vandalized, and I didn't have the money to get it repaired, even if it could have been repaired. I couldn't even afford bus-fare. Yes, I looked for work - but good paying jobs are not easy to come by even with a degree. It is also not easy to get a job if you don't have a phone. I would gather empty soda bottles that I would find, walk miles to the Coca-cola bottling company to turn them in and get the deposit money for the bottles. I 'donated' blood plasma for 7-10 dollars per donation. I've got big white puncture scars on the inside of both elbows from all the times the needle was inserted for the donations. Was I ever happy when I got a definite full-time job with benefits. I was even happier when I got overtime. Sometimes I put in 80 hour weeks. Good thing I didn't have kids or spouse - they'd never have seen me. I worked for them for 12 years. Too bad the company isn't doing so well anymore. I went back to school and got my master's degree, was relieved of my job in 2002, and I'm looking for work again. I've been looking since May when I completed my graduate studies, and so far nothing except for the occasional paid tutoring or editing job. Fortunately things aren't quite as bad for me as they were 17 years ago as my father and I live in the same house and he has regular social security coming in, but things are still precarious and the longer it take for me to find a job the more precarious things become.

There are families who make just enough to make ends meet, but one emergency or catastrophe puts them on the street.

Also there are homeless people that have phychological problems. They are the wandering lost souls of society. So very sad.


Yes, and a large part of the reason why so many of these people are homeless in the United States is that the group homes for these people were closed.

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#10 cowsgonemadd3

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 01:35 PM

Well let me tell you a story. I said some not all anyways. That 1% is some.

Anyways, My aunt she ran off at 14 and with some guy and was having a baby at 15. Her parents adopted the Baby because they could not handle it or did not want it.

He died at age 6 of a rare cancer I guess. It was some kind of cancer.

Jump foward year and years until now. She has been married and divorced to 2 men and is now on a 3rd but no kids from him. She has had 6 kids in her lifetime counting my cousin who died.

She has never wanted to work and has never spent her money wisely. She smokes and wastes all her money on smokes and movie rentals. She over the years has had to beg money from her parents even when she was 2 states away. Just call on the phone and ask for money.

She a few years ago moved up here. She had no credit. She had to have her mother put her name on a double wide and then she never payed for it. For a couple of years before she got the double wide she lived for free in a single wide of my grandma's who died.

This 3rd husband she has is a bum. Never has wanted to work. He works on and off when he feels like it and somehow during football and basketball season his GOUT in his foot always acts up. Wonder why hum....ha ha

She provides for him while he does NOTHING. And then she wastes her money on beer for him and smokes for the both of them. Along with the tons of movies and movie rentals. One night on the beer she bough for him he got drunk and stabbed her in the neck.

He went to jail and is now out and he is living with her again or she is paying for him a motel about 2 miles from here.

Her parents keep giving them money. Her 3 kids she takes care of need a house until they can graduate and get a job of there own. Her house if falling apart and the roof is leaking. The floor needs replacing. And she spends her money on smokes and movies.

What I am trying to say is she is lazy and not smart with her money. She would make enough to pay for her stuff if she did not waste it like she does. Without mom and dads money every now and then she and her kids would have no home.

I am not saying all homeless are like this but I see countless times in people even the richer who spend money unwisely. This has a lot to do with what causes people to go homeless. Ask some of the homeless people if they even passed high school. I bet a lot would say no.

#11 DSTM

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 02:10 PM

CGM3,I'm more worried about the plight of the other 99% than 1% to be honest.In your last paragraph you stated words to the affect QUOTE"Ask any of the homeless people if they even passed highschool.I bet a lot would say no"UNQUOTE.And the ones Iv'e asked haven't either.You wouldn't think it would have anything to do with coming from a poor family or a broken home would you?My family was poor and I had no option but to leave school at 14 and work my butt off to try and help my father provide for us.Two years later I went back and finished my schooling,when my father got a better job and could provide for us without my help.Theres many reasons why people don't finish there schooling,and I fail to see what schooling has to do with their plight 40 or 50 yrs later.We have university graduates here that can't even get a job,even with BA degrees.

Edited by DSTM, 23 January 2007 - 02:19 PM.















#12 cowsgonemadd3

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 02:38 PM

Well yes and then some just give up. I am not saying I am right but I have seen a lot of people poor because of there own doing.

and I fail to see what schooling has to do with their plight 40 or 50 yrs later


It has a lot to do with life. People who want to run something dont want lazy dropouts in there labor force. I was looking over one of my choices for maybe going to a college today and in the magazine on the college it said people with a college ed. earn 35 percent more every year than a non college grad. People who dont have a high school diploma make even less.

#13 DSTM

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 03:02 PM

45 YRS ago education wasn't so important as it is today.I was never asked my education status.Never needed any papers whatsoever to get a job.This,I would guess would have applied to many of the elderly homeless,we see today on the streets,under bridges etc.
Today, an education is of vital importance,infact here you have to be over qualified to get a decent job.
If a person is homeless through no fault of their own,I have sympathy for them.If they are homeless through their own stupidy and laziness,they deserve all the misery that befalls them.IMHO.

Edited by DSTM, 23 January 2007 - 03:54 PM.















#14 MaraM

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 04:10 PM

Truly am sorry about your Aunt, CGM - not for her perhaps but for all those that have struggled to keep her going all these years and prevented her from ever becoming actually homeless.

DSTM has a great point about education - now it's of vital importance but years ago, education wasn't guaranteed and children often had to drop out of school (many at an incredibly early age) to help support their families. And while many have been very successful in life (book smart is truly seperate from 'being' smart), many more are now in the situation where they barely make it through each month. Many who do still have a home eat canned dog food just to scrap by. And it takes just one financial 'hiccup' in life to put them over the edge and to become homeless on the street. A pretty dismal future for the elderly that helped build our Country. Possible solution: More truly affordable housing for the elderly and a society that thinks the elderly are important, rather than 'disposible'.

And Scarlet mentioned something that has plagued our area for nearly two decades now. Our government in it's infinite wisdom decided it would be cheaper to hundreds of houses to be used as 'group homes' - and then they closed a huge, major hospital that was home to people with various mental disabilities and was 'home and security' for all those with physological problems. The group homes don't seem to be working that well if one judges how many of these same poor souls are now homeless and equally as bad, not taking medication regularly. Possible solution: Re-open the vast hospital and ensure these in such need are truly taken care of and feel safe and secure once again.

And for families, all it takes is one major financial hiccup and poof!, they're homeless and their future in dire straits. Children can't be registered in school if they don't have a 'permanent address'. One can't qualify for welfare nor medical coverage without an address either. And if the reason they've become homeless is because of a death of the financial provider or illness within the family itself, things must be unimaginable.

And poverty can actually be 'caused' by trying so hard to work and support oneself and his or her family, as well. And example of this is a young mother with two little ones that I saw each morning Monday through Friday as she headed off to work in the city. Bus fares increased quite drastically and this increase was just enough to 'tip' her over the line where it became cheaper to stay home and care for her children. And that means social assistance - and anyone struggling to survive on welfare is surely struggling indeed. One more family living on the edge, awaiting a financial 'hiccup' that could make them too homeless.

And when I read your post, Orange Blossom - well, I admire you and your strength so, so much! Gentle hugs! It's people like you who try so incredibly hard that I have the greatest respect for in this age of 'silent struggling' in our affluent society. There are those that simply 'live off society' and then those that, no matter the education level, still may live in fear for financial security each and every month.

Maybe our government should stop spending money on the 'icing on the cake', things like millions being given away to other Countries, millions wasted in government spending on so many things when, in reality, our own people without our own Countries are suffering.

Perhaps take some of these millions and build housing for the truly needy who are trying to mightily in this age of unstable economy. And perhaps re-vamp the welfare system completely. Healthy adults with no children being required to 'work' for their monthly payment (even if it's picking up litter from the side of the streets).

We not only have soup kitchens for the homeless but limited shelters for them too (more beds open when the weather becomes icy) but for those that ended up homeless through no fault of their own, what a scary place these shelters must often be. And we have Food Banks that help, too - but imagine the humiliation for those people that must stand in line for hours, often with their little ones, just to get enough to eat each week. While I could be wrong, soup kitchens and food bands are simply a 'bandaid' for what is a huge, huge problem in our Countries.

On a personal level, our local newspaper has a both interesting and heartbreaking article last Fall. A reporter determined to find how many homeless really existed in our little area of suburbea, headed out with the promise to the homeless he found that he would not 'turn them in'. Included in these people he located (usually living in our heavily forested areas just blocks from busy areas), was a grandmother and her grandchild. Homeless, living in a battered old tent and washing in a near-by creek. Apparently the grandmother had raised the little one all by herself since shortly after the baby was born - and when the child was in Grade 2, the teacher (who meant well, I'm sure) reported her to Social Services 'just to check on things'. And after finding the child was sharing the same bedroom as her Grandmother (apparently a child that is not 'naturally yours' must have a seperate bedroom and even the cot that had been added wouldn't do) plus it was determined that the Grandmother wasn't young enough to raise a child alone.

Rather than help the Grandmother with her rent so she could move into a 2-bedroom apartment and rather than simply have a Social Worker pop in every month to see how things were going, the 'rules' state that the child would have to go into foster care. Grandmother and child slipped away one evening and ergo, homeless but still together. The child does continue to go to school each day, but in a different school with Grandmother fibbing that they have a permanent address and they live from the money earned from picking up bottles and cans, with clothing and such provided by Charities.

I know I've been ever so long-winded on this post and I do apologise. Suppose it's just because while getting our government to change things seems unlikely, I wonder what, if anything, can be done.

(Lest everyone consider me a 'bleeding heart' - gentle smile - thought I'd mention that when a pan-handler approaches me on the street I simply ask if they would like me to buy them a meal. Some say yes and it's obvious they are truly hungry and often cold. Others say no, that they just want the money ... these I simply wish a good day to and walk off.
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#15 TheTerrorist_75

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 06:11 PM

Many things contribute to the homeless psyche. These include but are not limited to mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, stress, or physical illness that prevents them from integrating with society. You would be surprised at how many of these homeless individuals have college degrees and actually worked at high level jobs. Some of them were successful and had loving families. For one reason or the other they ended up on the streets sans structure and means of receiving or wanting help.

I look at those statistics regarding that a person with a degree will make 35% more than someone who just graduated from high school and laugh. Many of the jobs requiring those degrees have been outsourced to other countries where the pay is less than that of a minimum wage earner here. Corporate greed is the major cause of this outsourcing.

Another problem with homeless issues lies within our health care policies. Many people cannot afford to receive the necessary help needed to aid their illnesses which can put then out in the streets.

Until we start investing in our own country and provide secure, decent paying jobs plus affordable health care many more will become homeless.

Edited by TheTerrorist_75, 23 January 2007 - 06:12 PM.

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