Thursday, October 2, 2008

'Homelessness Is A Business'

Uptown shelter serves its last meal, but hopes homeless will be served by mobile units
By Todd Johnson, Medill Reports Chicago

an excerpt:
Isaac Barrantine, meal program coordinator at People’s Church, increased the church’s lunch program from three to four days a week to make up for the loss at Tom Seay. The Church will begin five-day-a-week meals starting Dec. 1.

“Homelessness is a business,” he said. “There is so much need here in Uptown that our church and REST have no choice, we have to provide for these people.”
Read the story here


  1. I'm not gonna lie..... That food looks better than what I cook myself on a daily basis.

  2. Last evening, a homeless woman staked out a place on Leland. I wondered how bad the conditions were at the shelter that she was better off on the street. I have overheard these people talk, and yes, they complain about the alderman too.

  3. Don't start hyperventilating about what is essentially a poor choice of words by the interviewee. Im sure the guy didnt actually mean "homelessness is a business."

    He meant homelessness is growing, endemic, or prevalent.

    The reporter could have challenged him on his statement, but one should realize that reporter is a still wet-behind-the-ears NU journalism student who thinks a portfolio full of "human interest" news clips like this will be his ticket to the big time. And also consider the equally wet-behind-the-ears copy desk editor who saw a phenomenal headline or pull quote when he read "homelessness is a business."

  4. I think the person who said "Homelessness is a business" probably misspoke. I take what they said to mean trying to alieviate/serving homelessness, is a business. They certainly couldn't have meant sleeping on a bench is a business.
    At least's that's my take

  5. Yes, there are certainly organizations that exist because homelessness is their business. They are in the business of serving the homeless by obtaining funds through private and government sources. Agreed.

  6. Would you believe me if I told you there are organized efforts to keep people homeless?

  7. Stop speculating on what you think he meant. He said what he said.

  8. Top Ten Ways to Keep People Homeless

    10. Keep thinking that the homeless are just lazy and shouldn't be helped.

    9. Assume foster kids magically become responsible, self-sufficient adults at age 18.

    8. Provide public food programs, but ignore the real reasons people are hungry.

    7. Make it hard for the homeless to access services by spreading out services all over the county.

    6. Encourage NIMBYism.

    5. Let law enforcement deal with it. Outlaw homelessness and throw the homeless in jail.

    4. Sweep the homeless into other communities.

    3. Eliminate the welfare system.

    2. Keep minimum wages at a minimum.

    And finally...the No. 1 way to increase homelessness in our community: Reduce the housing stock and eliminate affordable housing.

  9. Based on a previous post, I'd wager the best way to eliminate homelessness in Uptown is to park your car on the street with the doors unlocked.

    Lagniappe: Leave a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the back seat.

  10. Kenny, based upon your Top 10, we should have no homeless in Uptown. We have many services for the homeless and have more affordable housing that almost anywhere in Chicago! You might want to rethink a few items in your Top 10 and based upon facts instead of notions. You may have a couple things right though.

  11. Actually definition a person in jail isn't homeless. The term of the lease may be questionable though.

  12. Kenny, if you have complaints about minimum wage, complain to your alderman Helen who didn't vote for the Big Box ordinance.

  13. Kenny doesn't mind, it's not like he is paying for any of his top 10.

    That ten was the biggest load of..well you know what. Through all of time we have had homeless people. Yet Kenny of all people finally is the first person in history to solve the problem. If we just do what kenny says all people will have homes!

    Lets all follow Kenny to the promise land! Thanks Kenny, your the most, to say the least.

  14. shillsgangs, the list is from a 2003 commentary in the LA Times.

    Bradley, I'd be willing to bet that it costs taxpayers more to house a homeless person in jail for one day than to provide one day's worth of food, permanent housing, and case management.

    We're halfway into the mayor's 10-year plan to end homelessness, enacted the year that article was written. A lot of people are continuing to work hard toward that end, but the need for overnight/emergency shelters still exists.

    Please volunteer!

    P.S. Chip, I don't want to live in your libertarian world.

  15. I don't see it as much of problem other then them begging for change.

    There is help for the homeless if they want it but most are mentally il and will no accept help or live in a group home where they have to live by some rules.

  16. While many homeless individuals have true mental illnesses and need services such as this, many "homeless" people - particularly those in Uptown - could afford to dine seven days per week at the finest restaraunts in Chicago for the amount of money they spend on drugs and alchohol. It is not uncommon for these junkies and hypes to blow $300 per day on drugs, much of which is floated with tax payer dollars early in the month. The good outweighs the bad. But, I do not feel that there is any reason that the ward has to have such a skewed concentration of them. These services should be spread throughout the city. But, we all know why that is - MACHINE POLITICS and VOTES.

  17. "P.S. Chip, I don't want to live in your libertarian world."

    I know, a world with lower taxes, more personal responsibility, and more personal freedoms to live life as the people who founded this country intended.

    Kenny there would be no victims there so I'm not sure you would find a niche anyway. Good thing we live in Victim Land where good old tax payers help foot your bill and lifestyle.

    I just love keeping the man down.

  18. dear kenny... I never made any claims vis-a-vis the cost effectiveness. I was just having fun with your list (the paradox (or would it be irony?) of #5).

  19. Nathaniel, do you only post to be contrarian? If so, can you please let us know the next Couraj or Copwatch meeting so we can have our "contrarian" views represented there, too?

  20. COURAJ meets every saturday morning if you are really interested in coming e-mail me.

  21. Hi Nathaniel, I noticed that COURAJ changed its name again, this time to Northside Action for Justice. Seems like it does that every so often to deal with their bad reputation.

    Kenny, I really don't think the issue is that people have a problem with the homeless. The problem is with those people who encourage the concentration of the homeless and the mentally ill in Uptown. The other problem is that some of these social services enable the homeless to remain homeless. Giving someone a meal is a nice gesture, but it's empty and meaningless if they remain dependent on handouts. Honestly, enabling behavior is cruel.

    So you can forget the sad sob story that Uptown condo residents hate the poor. You might try a different tactic. Remember, COURAJ used that tactic for years and now they have to change their name again.

  22. "COURAJ meets every saturday morning if you are really interested in coming e-mail me."

    Yeah about that..see I had an appointment to put my hand in a meat don't think I can make it this week.

    Next week might be booked to because I have another hand and is awkward..Im going to have to pass mmmka.

  23. bradley no worries. It's just something I wonder about, especially since people tend to gripe about the cost of social services even while cities all across the country are enacting "quality of life" ordinances that effectively criminalize homelessness.

    just wondering I hear you and agree. Part of the 10-year plan is to move people into immediate, permanent housing. But in a neighborhood that as of 2000 had 197 health/social service agencies, the "concentration" isn't likely to thin out any time soon.

    chip dear, I realize it's hard for you to fathom, but it really is possible for someone to be college-educated, successful, and a homeowner (like me) and still think that "no man is an island unto himself."

  24. Most "Libertarians" are late to the party. They voted for Bush in 2000, 2004, and their switch to the edict of "personal responsibility" is meant to cover up for their past sins . . . and to conveniently disassociate themselves from all the babylon wrought by Republicans mismanaging our government.

    Ron Paul, my ass.

  25. And this is the beauty of the Uptown Update Forum. You can talk about presidential politicals there instead of in the comments pertaining to a story about an Uptown Salvation Army post closing.

  26. "Most "Libertarians" are late to the party. They voted for Bush in 2000, 2004"

    Once agin BJ bringing nothing to the table. Could I see a chart for this Bush Vote statistic? Or is that the Billyjoe I don't know so I talk out my ars theory? I voted for Gore in 2000, and didn't vote dem nor rep in 2004.

    Now do you have anything on topic or does this problem not affect Evanstale? Or maybe I can speculate what you meant to say? Dur.

  27. kenny, maybe you do not realize it, but a commentary is merely an opinion - nothing more, nothing less. it appears that the author's views in the 2003 LA Times commentary do not apply well to uptown's makeup. it is much easier to locate a factoid than it is to find relevant facts applicable to a given situation.

  28. Kenny, according to the 10-year plan to end homelessness, overnight shelters are meant to be places where individuals who are homeless stay for 1 or 2 days for assessment purposes only. They are then placed in transitional housing where they receive wrap-around services for approximately 3 months. Afterwards, it is expected they obtain permanent housing with services as needed. Those unable to care for themselves due to a severe disability would continue to have wrap-around services while in permanent housing.

    There's a flaw in the system if people are staying a long time in shelters. As a social worker, I remain a strong advocate for the homeless and those with mental illness, but I have no tolerance for interventions that enable the disenfranchised to remain homeless.

    I also believe it's inappropriate to encourage the concentration of social services in one neighborhood. It's a failed model that reminds me of what CHA did in the 1960's. Good intentions are no longer enough to help those in need. It now requires interventions that show evidence of helping. I don't see that enough in Uptown. The solution is complex, but the answer should not involve the city, county, and state sending these vulnerable people to Uptown to do their job of caring for them.

    I encourage people to volunteer to help social service organizations, but I have a caveat to that. It should be for social services that have demonstrated they are good neighbors to the rest of the community. When I helped run a homeless shelter many years ago for HIV+ men with drug dependence, we did not allow our guests to cause any sort of problems in and around the area. Our guests got needed affirmation and respect from us so they didn’t want to blow it by causing problems in the neighborhood. They knew early on that I was a firm believer in the tough love approach. Because we were good neighbors, we were able to get volunteers from the area to help us run the place.

  29. From James' post:

    "interventions that enable the disenfranchised to remain homeless. "

    What kinds of interventions would you classify like this? Thanks

  30. An intervention is worthwhile if it motivates a person to change. If the intervention lowers their motivation, it really ends up providing more harm than good.

    There are some alcoholics and drug addicts in Uptown who have been homeless for years. Giving them food and a bed hasn't worked to change their motivation to address their addictions. It really allows them to focus more of their attention on maintaining their addiction. In the shelter I ran, we required our guests to actively work on why they became homeless. That accountability became their incentive to address their root causes of homelessness.

  31. James,
    Without pointing fingers, would you say that groups that are only providing food and shelter, but nothing else, are likely to keep things status quo for their guests/clients?

  32. I would say the proof is in the pudding. Per the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, it's not enough anymore for a social service to claim success by how many meals were served or how many people were given a bed to sleep. True success is judged on a social service's ability to stabilize the lives of clients with permanent housing and fewer crisis episodes within 120 days.

    It's why I was disappointed that Inspiration Cafe and Heartland Alliance supported having Labor Ready in the neighborhood. That kind of business does not lend itself to stabilizing the lives of people with serious psychosocial issues. I spoke with one former addict who told me that day labor enabled her to keep using drugs. Day labor was her quick fix for money and it prevented her from learning the skills for long-term employment. It's why I am adamantly against the men in front of U-Haul begging for employment. It's not steady work that requires them to report to work on a regular basis and to form a working relationship with a supervisor. Ultimately, it delays them from really stabilizing their lives.

    It comes down to this ... cheap fixes don't work and sometimes make things worse.

  33. People have been wondering what's a good definition of co-dependency that we see around here. I think this answer sums it up.
    Ms Crocker's co-dependency definition

  34. Really ,you have heard" these people" talk,which people are you referring to?