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What do you think is the best way to help homeless families?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on November 10, 2007

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Photo of Spencer Walsh

“I think the main problem is that people want to displace responsibility on the issue. It needs to be a topic of discussion in the community, and multiple parties need to combine their efforts to help.”

Photo of JoBeth Allen

“I think there needs to be a community-based effort to provide affordable housing and especially a living wage, because many of the homeless are the working poor. We have an Interfaith Hospitality Network that brings community resources together.”

Photo of Kevin Walter

“I think it’s up to the community, churches and the government to provide an environment for families to get back on their feet. One with mental, emotional and some monetary support to restore hope. But ultimately I think it’s up to the families themselves.”

Photo of Shelbie Nelson

“Through government programs. The government needs to be taking care of its people. That’s what it’s there for.”


GretchenJP 6 years, 5 months ago

"Through government programs. The government needs to be taking care of its people. That's what it's there for." - Shelbie Nelson

Shelbie, do you sell pop tarts on Neptune?


northtown 6 years, 5 months ago

My wife and i had to work,both for eight to ten dollars an hour,bought a little house,saved every dime we could,bought used cars,lived poor. But did inherit a rather large farm,that i worked as a young man,but stayed in the little house,had it remodeled,never did build on,could have?Still but used cars,once you learn to live a certain way with some it sticks,Kept some of the land ,sold most of it,invested the money and i retired ,at a early age,wife decided to keep her job until she could get draw her retiremment?? But yes the government could set up programs to help, teach the people to work,no drinking,no drugs!!!The saying that was said by ks,give a man a fish ,he can live for one day,teach him to fish he can live a long time is true. If they wanted and put out the effort they could survive,others have done it....... Lawrence needs to quit feeding them for free and make them earn it,not just the families,all of them,once they know they can get the handout everyday,then why put out any effort to better themselves!!!! May need to set up programs to dry and get them straight,and programs for the mentally handicapped and disabled ,but most on the street are just taking advantage of the handouts.......


geekin_topekan 6 years, 5 months ago

"Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote."_President Grover Cleveland ++++++

Grover's quote as posted by RI,shouldn't be read as monetory (rent,food) support.But more as the government should not endorse private entities such as a certain Pharmacuetical company. As in>>Hack's idea (the government) should be supported by the people.The people (Deciphra) shouldn't be supported(tax deal) by the government. That's how I read Grover's Quote.


Amy Heeter 6 years, 5 months ago

"It is required of every man," the ghost returned, "that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and, if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death." - A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens


DotsLines 6 years, 5 months ago

"But your argument is that companies can be filthy rich, but pay their people little of nothing, in the interest of making more profits, so they can get richer."

Well, yes.

A production line worker in a car factory makes so much. The limit of his skill may be as small as pushing one button, and if he screws up, maybe one car will have to be repaired.

His supervisor has to know everyone's job in that area, and if he screws up, the line might shut down. He gets paid more, because he knows more, does more, and has more responsibility. Bring that up a notch for each successive level of management.

The plant manager has to know everything that happens in the plant, and worry about things like bringing in materials to build the cars, shipping out the final product, and setting priorities between such things as volume vs. quality. His decisions might affect whether an entire car line can be built for a price making it competitive with the other company's model, or whether it is recalled for a defect. The level of compensation is commensurate with the required ability and the responsibility.

At the corporate level, the top people have to know all that plus understand the intracacies of the world market. They're responsible for everything from the design and introduction of new models, finance involving billions of dollars, complying with state, federal, and international laws, and everything else. The decisions they make can make the difference on whether plants close and tens of thousands of workers are laid off. They make a lot of money, but proportionate to the responsibility, it's not that much.

Then there's the shareholders. If you have your money in a bank, you probably are one. There is a legal fiduciary responsibility to those shareholders to make decisions which maximize profits. Not to mention that if there weren't people who could afford to buy the product, nobody works.

There are a lot of people working for a few rich people.That's how capitalism works. It's pretty much been proven that the alternatives - socialism or communism - don't work as well. And guaranteeing "living wages" is exactly that.

"You assume that anyone who is homeless isn't working or is capable of working physically or mentally. Do you just want to euthanize them?"

I've never said any such thing, and if you'd read my posts on homeless issues, you'd know that.


Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 5 months ago

But your argument is that companies can be filthy rich, but pay their people little of nothing, in the interest of making more profits, so they can get richer. In our greedy society trickle down theory doesn't work. Labor is no longer organized to make demands. The government is in the back pocket of the corporations. They can give our corporate welfare, ie tax breaks and providing infrastructure almost for free, in return for low paying jobs and an empty building when the tax breaks run out. But paying for training programs, one on one care for the mentally ill so they can be productive, guaranteeing that wealth does trickle down by requiring living wages, etc. You assume that anyone who is homeless isn't working or is capable of working physically or mentally. Do you just want to euthanize them?


DotsLines 6 years, 5 months ago

"It worked for awhile, but could you live on minimum wage, even with no family? I dare you to try it."

The minimum wage was never, ever intended to be a "living" wage. It was, as you said, intended to prevent labor practices close to slavery, to ensure that someone who performed any work was adequately compensated for that work, even if that work was only a second job, a part-time job, an after-school job. It never, ever was intended that a minimum wage job would support an entire family and allow them to buy a house and a car and have all the trappings of the American dream.

As an aside, though, did you catch the story a few weeks back about the Guatemalan that was trying to leave the country with almost $60,000 in cash he'd saved from dishwashing jobs?


KS 6 years, 5 months ago

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for life.


Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 5 months ago

When I was young my father worked construction, which was seasonal, and my mother worked as a cook in a restuarant at minimum wage or less. My father was plagued with a mental illness, what we call bipolar today. They were the working poor, but we could still afford a house (not an apartment) to rent, and didn't need public assistance. Today, a family of 5 (like my family) in the same situation wouldn't be able to find an apartment to rent. Maybe an ancient bug infested trailer. They definitely could not afford a car.

On the other side, when I was young, we didn't have CEO's who considered their workers a liablity, not an asset. Although Ford was long before my time, he didn't see an use of mass producing his cars, if his workers couldn't afford to buy one. On the other hand, we now have CEO's who lay off workers, so they can show a false profit. We have religous leaders who sell salvation to poor people who ride in limos, and own private jets. We have the children of one of the richest families in the country (Walton) paying for MU's field house, naming it for their daughter who is too much of a snob to attend the school, and instead is paying someone a lot of money to "earn" her degree for her. I can find plenty of stories just like this one. Minimum wage was meant to protect people from companies who wanted slaves. It worked for awhile, but could you live on minimum wage, even with no family? I dare you to try it.


kugrad 6 years, 5 months ago

If you can't understand that it is a legitimate purpose of government to help the most needy citizens, homeless families with children, then you should be ashamed to call yourself an American. We have a long tradition of helping each other and everyone who falls on hard times is not some kind of lesser person than you. I think that the way to help these families is to provide a short-term living space, transportation for the children to get to school and the doctor, medical care if needed, and keep as much constant for the children as possible [keep them in the same school, get them there and back safely]. As there is no shortage of work, a caseworker of some kind should be assigned to provide assistance in landing a job as quickly as possible [as in less than a week], and helping the people figure out how to get there [bus, walking, whatever]. The finances of the family should be under the control of that caseworker until they leave the short term public housing. Once a job is secured, the caseworker would help the people find a place to rent. They will need food stamps [wic card, whatever they use now]. They may also need to help them find clothes [there are lots of sources for donated and/or cheap clothing] and some basic hygiene products so they can keep the job. There should be a maximum of 90 days in the public housing. Drug/alcohol counseling mandatory if necessary for the family. Once they have a place to live and are back on their feet, control of their $ continues for 90 more days and they take mandatory budgeting counseling with the caseworker to make sure they understand how to keep finances in order. They will also be assisted in opening a bank account. If the same family ends up homeless again within a short period of time, it is time to strongly consider removing the children from the home. That's my opinion. I think people need a hand up sometimes. Once you are homeless, it is hard to get back on your feet. Homeless families are generally not homeless by choice - NO children are homeless by choice. We should give them a hand up. If they don't take it, protect the children.


macon47 6 years, 5 months ago

I sense a bit of difference between homeless, and homeless families. homeless to me are just the bums you see down town begging however some of these homeless families may have gone thru some very tragic times but too often, they are just a couple of degenerates that hooked up, had some kids, and then split. your unwillingness to manage your personal ife is not my or the govts bidnesss.


b3 6 years, 5 months ago

Buy them a bus ticket somewhere far far away.


Bone777 6 years, 5 months ago

Survival of the fittest..... Exterminate!


denak 6 years, 5 months ago

First, I was happy to see the word, "families" in the question because from what I have read women with children ares becoming the fastest growing segment of homeless people. I think it is easy to be unsympthetic when we are dealing with grown adults but it is a whole different story when there are children involved.

With that said, I think we need to look at each individual family and try to address "why" they are homeless. Was it sickness/medical bills, job loss, dependency issues, mental health issues, loss of home, etc and try to address the most pressing, underlying issue and get it resolved as quickly as possible, if that is possible.

There isn't any reason to put someone in a home if the reasons for them being homeless to begin with aren't being addressed. I'm not saying to leave them out on the streets, but these issues need to be addressed. Personally, I would like to see some little cottages built. Nothing fancy. Maybe 2 or 3 bedroom houses/trailers whatever, where the family is allowed to stay free..for six months while the underlying problems of why they were homeless are addressed. Then at six months, they take on more responsibility and more and more, until the underlying issue is resolved..and some of the other issues can be addressed. During this time,they have to attend AA or NA, parenting classes, budgeting classes, literacy classes..etc.

Women with children should have priority only because of the children. If the children go into the system, she has to move. Not trying to be harsh, and that might not work, but there are men out there who need a leg up also and just because she is a woman, doesn't mean she should get a break if it is just her.

Anyway, I think it is good to have shelters but shelters are temporary. You can only stay in them for up to a certain amount of time and most of the problems that a lot of homeless have can not be cured in a year so I think there needs to be some type of stop gap measure where they aren't on the street but they are also working towards resolving their difficulties.



none2 6 years, 5 months ago

Maybe the real answer is to have another homestead act where homeless are given some land where they can build their own home. Think of all the poor people who took advantage of it 100 years ago. If the government also threw in some livestock and some building material, with a bit of effort, these people could have something of their own that they could be proud of.


DotsLines 6 years, 5 months ago

"It is the free market that creates wealth and philanthropy and big government and welfare create lack and greed."

A recent study found that high school kids, when asked what was the best way to address poverty, chose a growing economy over all other choices, including direct welfare programs.

Let's hope they get old enough to vote soon.


Crossfire 6 years, 5 months ago

A good sharp smack in the head. And a firm, "What the hell is wrong with you?" Along with a bus ticket to Colorado, destination... South East Colorado Homeless Shelter 710 W. Olive Street Lamar, Colorado


ibroke 6 years, 5 months ago

can you give me an example of the rich getting richer? my idea of the rich are people who run companies who hire people to work for them like walmart if they didnt get richer then they go out of the area or go under completely which means lay offs, downsizing, what ever you call it and that means a loss of jobs,sooooo i believe in keeping them around here to provide people a job if they want it ,,,,also i dont see that Bush has put an economic quagmire on the government any more then the other presidents have,, there is no one man that can do this


Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 5 months ago

gyroduck, I don't disagree that with a thriving economy there will be fewer homeless people, but where will a mother go if a father runs out on her, and she's been a stay at home mom? Yes, she may be able to get a job in a good economy, but she's going to need help until she does. And what about someone who suffers a long illness? Do we just let he/she and the family starve to death. Yes, there are those who milk the system, but our welfare system has helped people in rough times. I know when I was a newly divorced single mom it helped me to sleep at night knowing that if my company shut down or I got sick my daughter would not have to go hungry. I don't think families have that security net anymore. Rent is higher, food is higher. Wages haven't changed much. Back then I was making $10.00/hour and paying $200/month in rent. For some $10.00/hour seems like heaven now, but they are paying twice as much to live in a dump. Our economy is making the rich richer and has created more working poor. I don't see it getting any better with this war and the economic quagmire that Bush has put the government into. Before long there will be a whole servant class again. It will be a privelege to be a live in maid so you can live in a decent house. Of course, that might be what some people want.


ibroke 6 years, 5 months ago

yes the government should also pay all my bills and gasoline along with paying for my retirement starting Now because i have worked for 30 years now .oh yeah also pay my house taxes for life-i think the government is here to do these things


gyroduck 6 years, 5 months ago

"Through government programs. The government needs to be taking care of its people. That's what it's there for."

People should not be dependent on a government that is using imaginary money as its means of helping its people in the end it doesn't help, it hurts us all. We need the money to be in the hands of the people not in the hands of incompetent bureaucrats. In order to end poverty we need more entrepreneurs, more money in the market place and less money in Washingtion D.C. It is the free market that creates wealth and philanthropy and big government and welfare create lack and greed. Vote for Ron Paul and get real!


RETICENT_IRREVERENT 6 years, 5 months ago

"Through government programs. The government needs to be taking care of its people. That's what it's there for." - Shelbie Nelson Not...

"Though the people support the Government the Government should not support the people." - President Grover Cleveland


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