Moratorium on Homelessness

First, according to the 2010 Census there is an official poverty rate of 15.7 percent – that’s 47.8 million people in this country living in poverty, or worse. On top of that, we have approximately 5 million people living homeless on the streets and millions more in vehicles. A full one third of these are veterans – war veterans – many in wheel chairs and without limbs. Then the damnedest number of all, we have a total of 18.9 million empty housing units throughout this country. You do the math.

Did you know that the banks – the very same ones that got a $1.6 Trillion Bailout – in the most bi-partisan fashion I’ve ever seen in my life – the same ones who purposely crashed our economy, using our homes as casino chips – after getting all of their money back and then some – are still foreclosing to this very day, making more and more people homeless.

They take over entire apartment buildings – throwing paying renters on the street and leave their buildings vacant for years until they fall apart and deprecate in value – so that they can buy them back cheap and get huge tax-payer subsidies from redevelopment agencies in order to build their self-glorifying museums.

And what does our government do about it? They’re complicit. Both the Democratic and Republican parties aid and abet in the theft of our homes and resources. It is not a bank teller pounding down your door and making you homeless – it’s a sheriff – a government employee – controlled by the politicians.

All the while they continue to gut our schools of all funding, making them nothing more than meat grinders for the military and prisons industrial complexes.

And one side says there’s nothing they can do, while the other side says there’s nothing they will do.

Well, I’m here to put an end to that.

We can fix the problem. There is a solution. And I challenge my opponents to prove me wrong.

All the reports agree on one simple fact. The only solution to homelessness is homes. People need to be permanently housed. That is the only way to solve the problem and give people the stability they need in order to advance and make something positive with their lives. Not a handout – like a bailout – but a hand-up.

I’m calling for a Statewide Moratorium on Homelessness. Give me one year to prove that it will work.

We simply match people with the vacant properties and apartments in their communities. We will pay for the rents directly at a fair market rate and give people the stability they need to further improve their lives.

All I ask is to consider this seriously.

Look at all the social advantages to this plan. First, it gives homes to those in need. Then consider that the money paid for the rents goes right back into our local economies. And take it a step further. Let’s give preference to small property owners of 4 or 5 units. That way we know that the money will stay local and will help stabilize our middle class.

Then there are all the benefits this gives to society as a whole. With people in homes instead of on the streets, it will immediately remove the blight that we so often hear talked about, which creates so much social tension. It will give all of us a reprieve.

Consider also how much this will reduce our crime rate, when in many places homelessness and poverty related incidents consume 80% of our police time and resources.

And then, the icing on the cake, this will cost us so much less than our current system that we can seriously start talking about tax cuts too.

It’s a plan that helps everyone.

So, how much does that cost? With approximately 1.25 million homeless people in California, at a median rent of $1,200 a month, it comes up to approximately $18 Billion. I can hear you asking now, “In this economy, in this recession, with a $25 Billion budget gap, where in the world am I going to come up with another $18 Billion to house everyone, on top of what we already need to cover?”

Well, the answer comes from the Homeless Cost Study – the little report they keep ignoring – the one stating that by placing chronically homeless people into permanent supportive housing it saved the city more than $20,000 per person, per year.

That’s over and above the cost of housing and supportive services for them.

Now, let’s look at this. How many homeless people did we say we had? 1.25 Million, right?

Well, let’s multiply that by $20,000. What do we come up with? Anybody?

That’s right. $25 Billion.

We solve both problems and are able to fully fund all our social needs at the same time. And by doing this, we are able to seriously start talking about tax cuts too. This is the solution we’ve all been looking for and it’s staring us right in the face.

What the Experts are Saying:

“Communities must develop a plan that involves housing and homeless services.”

“Chronically homeless people are a fraction of the total population, but use most of the resources. If the community can place these individuals into housing with a great deal of support services we save a great deal of money. Communities need a dedicated pool of money to build new housing, renovate housing, and develop housing opportunities for homeless people. They need to have a plan for the best path into housing for special populations.”

– The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless

“Ending homelessness must begin with the understanding that people who are or have been homeless are our neighbors and members of our community. Public perceptions and attitudes toward persons experiencing homelessness or in danger of becoming homeless need to change in order for positive, long-term solutions to be realized. Most Americans rarely interact with people who are or who have been homeless. The lack of interaction between different groups of our society, combined with impersonal or inaccurate descriptions of homelessness posed by the media and public officials, contributes to a distancing of those who have housing from those who do not. As a result, homelessness is perceived as an abstract social problem. Those who experience homelessness are seen as the sources of their own misfortunes, and the socio-economic policies and practices that give rise to homelessness are then too easily ignored. This abstraction, in turn, lessens the degree of urgency and commitment needed to work strategically and consistently toward solutions to end homelessness that are long-term, outcome-based, and not simply responses to crises. The Speakers’ Bureau is both an accurate and dynamic tool to teach and challenge tomorrow’s leaders as well as empower those who have experienced homelessness first-hand. By fostering an environment of self-worth, respect, and understanding for all people, the Speakers’ Bureau challenges us to believe that we can and should end homelessness.”

– National Coalition for the Homeless

“Housing First is an approach to ending homelessness that centers on providing homeless people with housing as quickly as possible – and then providing services as needed. This approach has the benefit of being consistent with what most people experiencing homelessness want and seek help to achieve. Housing First programs share critical elements:

• A focus on helping individuals and families access and sustain permanent rental housing as quickly as possible without time limits;

• A variety of services delivered to promote housing stability and individual well-being on an as-needed basis;

• A standard lease agreement to housing – as opposed to mandated therapy or services compliance.

While all Housing First programs share these critical elements, program models vary significantly depending upon the population served. For people who have experienced chronic homelessness, there is an expectation that intensive (and often specialized) services will be needed indefinitely. For most people experiencing homelessness, however, such intensive services are not necessary. The vast majority of homeless individuals and families fall into homelessness after a housing or personal crisis that led them to seek help from the homeless assistance system. For these families and individuals, the Housing First approach is ideal, as it provides them with assistance to find permanent housing quickly and without conditions. In turn, such clients of the homeless assistance networks need surprisingly little support or assistance to achieve independence, saving the system considerable costs.”

– National Alliance to End Homelessness

My Government Won’t Let Me

I’m tired, I’m cold, I wanna go to bed,
But my government won’t let me.

I’m tired, I’m cold, I wanna go to bed,
But my government won’t let me.

The trains are on strike
And the cabs look at me funny
I can’t get a ride
Even though I have the money

I’m tired, I’m cold, I wanna go to bed,
But my government won’t let me.

I’ve heard a lot tonight
And I’ve seen even more.
I want to write it down,
But my government won’t let me.

I’m out of my district
And dressed rather strangely,
No one here likes me,
Because my hair’s kinda mangy.

There are police on the corners
And men lurking in doorways,
No matter where I turn,
There’s an obstacle before me.

I’m tired, I’m cold, I wanna go to bed,
But my government won’t let me.

I want to go home
And empty out my head.
I want to lie down
On a warm safe bed,
But my government won’t let me.

By speaking my mind,
They hate who I am.
They prefer me to be blind,
Than a liberated man.

They threaten my life
And scare me to death,
Till I cower in a corner,
Holding my breath.

They get in my head
And mess with my brain.
They want to convince me
That I am insane.

I’m tired, I’m cold, I wanna go to bed,
But my government won’t let me.

They tell me to trust no one
And I will be safe,
Just like a prisoner,
Behind the walls of a cage.

Hatred and fear,
They consume everyone.
But if we can’t love each other,
Then we have no one.

I’m shivering now,
As I write these last words,
Still looking for a cab
And feeling absurd.

But if I don’t say it,
Then that leaves no one.
The moment you are silent,
Your government has won.

I’m tired, I’m cold, I wanna go to bed,
But my government won’t let me.

I’m tired, I’m cold, I wanna go to bed,
But my government won’t let me.

I’m tired, I’m cold, I wanna go to bed,
But my government won’t let me.

I’m tired, I’m cold, I wanna go to bed,
But my government won’t let me.