New City Rules Focus on the Homeless

New City Rules Focus on the Homeless Picture

I've often wondered what "makes" someone homeless. Did his or her luck run out? Did he lose his job and just couldn't find another? Is she lazy, or has she given up? Does he just not really care, because he has everything he needs in life, right in his backpack? 

Maybe he prefers this lifestyle; maybe it's easier this way for him. Maybe she ran away from something awful and this is a better life for her. 

No matter, new city rules are cracking down on the homeless. For homeless man Don Matyja, a $25 fine for smoking in a park has escalated to a $600 fine, because he couldn't initially pay. 

"A number of cities have recently passed ordinances that ban everything from smoking in the park to sleeping in cars to leaning bikes against trees."  And some libraries are beginning to instate policies that allow staff to kick someone out “for having poor hygiene or a strong aroma,” and prohibit shopping carts from being parked outside.

In the midst of all these new rules and laws, many homeless groups are fighting back by protesting and suing the cities. Did you know that there are homeless activist groups? I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I think there are people out there who will fight for the rights of anyone, because they need to have some injustice to protest.

But the city officials are trying to make things better for everyone, not just worse for the homeless. The article states:

"The city hopes to build more affordable housing using federal grant money and county resources and has hired a mental health worker to connect with the chronically homeless. It has also partnered with local churches to set up a storage facility where the homeless can keep their belongings to avoid having them confiscated."

I live in a nice, clean area, but homeless folks are evident. They hang around the city library, they sleep in the beautiful park, and they ask you for cigarettes or money as you walk to your car in Publix’s parking lot; it’s uncomfortable, and a little frightening. It’s enough of a reason to avoid the library and park, which is why many cities are trying to put an end to the rising number of homeless individuals.

If the homeless have no place to go, how do you get rid of them? (Even as I write this, I am reminding myself that these are human beings, not animals.) And if you try to help a homeless person, and they refuse help, then what do you do?

I've heard of a family who hired a homeless man, whom they knew nothing about, to help them with their home. And this man was gracious, accepted the work, and formed a wonderful bond.  This family helped this homeless man get out of his rut and improved his life.

I could never do that. While I recognize that act as the ultimate example of giving without judgment, I've also heard of a family who hired a homeless man, whom they knew nothing about, to help them with their home, and he robbed them and molested their child. 

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I am not a trusting enough individual to make a difference in this battle.

I've blogged about the more than one million homeless children. Those children are the ones who break my heart. I feel they are the ones truly without a choice, just along for the ride, and perhaps overlooked by the cities and government. I asked how we could make a difference for these children, and we didn’t really come up with an answer.

Is there a homeless problem in the U.S.? Absolutely! Are these new, focused rules going to make a difference? Are they fair?

What do you think? Are you an advocate of the homeless, or an advocate for the rules to weed them out?

What do you think?

New City Rules Focus on the Homeless

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

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8 comments

  1. Khaila says:

    We have the same "problems" where I live. I’m always scared that this could happen to my family as we live paycheck to paycheck. I have given out granola bars before and made donations of tolietries to the local homeless shelter in the past. I’m scared to help too, as you don’t know if you can trust someone you don’t know. I wish cities had more programs available-like if they passed a breathalizer/drug test then they could get a voucher to eat a meal and have a place to sleep and take a shower. I only add the stipulation about the drugs/alcohol so that they would have love themselves and show others that they want help up not a hand out.

  2. ErinF says:

    Thanks! It’s always difficult to write about that time, but I think it’s important to let people know that this kind of thing happens, especially in the context of abuse. It can really mess you up mentally, emotionally and physically, and all things considered, I was pretty lucky to have the resources for recovery that I did. I’m glad that you also offer food–everyone I’ve ever given to has been very grateful. It might not solve the underlying problem, but it does help make it a little more bearable. I once had a breakdown at work because I hadn’t eaten it two days, barely had any sleep, and my body was at its limit; just a little bit of food helps tremendously. Thanks again for your comment! 🙂

  3. Tara Antela says:

    psych-crimes.com/whattodo.htm Citizen’s Commission of Human Rights 6616 Sunset Blvd
    Hollywood California

    Cities will be entering a new era of accountability as lawsuits are now keeping a Federal Eye on all ‘Rule of Law Cities of Homelessness’ in America. National discernment on Emergency protocol and Due Process Failure because of our own population depression and lack of education.
    As it stands if ANY individual or family could fall from upper tiers of society without any from their own community catching them for humanities sake, let alone any society below… we have a seriously deteriorated humanitarian consciousness. Surely even young persons are worthy to be rescued if parents are in trouble and escaped notice of their neighbors. American communities watch over one another; this is national security: Neighborhood Watch. Is it only about property or the safety of all families in the hood. If gangsters watchout for one another in their hoods shouldn’t we? With so many resources how could families fall SO FAR without any intervention or concern? Do we wait a year or two until these are completely unrecognizable? Coule people be marooned on Gilligan’s Island long waiting rescue.
    Are we in such a cut throat environment where no one trusts anyone that no one from our own society nor the neighboring community woundn’t inquire what up? What if a family is utterly tossed one and all with BABY to the ghetto with the Pimps, derelects, and criminal element to comfort. Who in America would consider a precious family something of a perdition without remedy to have not stopped a fall to a darker America below?
    Skid Row was never the ugly place the media have made it into. It was a place where stripped logs and stumps gathered down stream on the skid of the embankment along a row in the downtown area of Los Angeles. The process was easy and systematic for large timbers of the size to be transported by water. In that process we might see on huge freighter trucks in high country the size of some of those mighty timbers on those expanded rigs. Some of these trees like the: ‘Chandelier Tree’ reached 315ft in height and 21ft in diameter. Stripped and with everything taken away. No roots, no branches…nothing left when your stripped clean of everything. Is this how Humanity is stripped and routed only to be somewhat trashed? If this is what America’s Humanitarian effort has come to:

    TIMBER!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Tara Antela says:

    psych-crimes.com/whattodo.htm Citizen’s Commission of Human Rights 6616 Sunset Blvd
    Hollywood California

    Cities will be entering a new era of accountability as lawsuits are now keeping a Federal Eye on all ‘Rule of Law Cities of Homelessness’ in America. National discernment on Emergency protocol and Due Process Failure because of our own population depression and lack of education.
    As it stands if ANY individual or family could fall from upper tiers of society without any from their own community catching them for humanities sake, let alone any society below… we have a seriously deteriorated humanitarian consciousness. Surely even young persons are worthy to be rescued if parents are in trouble and escaped notice of their neighbors. American communities watch over one another; this is national security: Neighborhood Watch. Is it only about property or the safety of all families in the hood. If gangsters watchout for one another in their hoods shouldn’t we? With so many resources how could families fall SO FAR without any intervention or concern? Do we wait a year or two until these are completely unrecognizable? Coule people be marooned on Gilligan’s Island long waiting rescue.
    Are we in such a cut throat environment where no one trusts anyone that no one from our own society nor the neighboring community woundn’t inquire what up? What if a family is utterly tossed one and all with BABY to the ghetto with the Pimps, derelects, and criminal element to comfort. Who in America would consider a precious family something of a perdition without remedy to have not stopped a fall to a darker America below?
    Skid Row was never the ugly place the media have made it into. It was a place where stripped logs and stumps gathered down stream on the skid of the embankment along a row in the downtown area of Los Angeles. The process was easy and systematic for large timbers of the size to be transported by water. In that process we might see on huge freighter trucks in high country the size of some of those mighty timbers on those expanded rigs. Some of these trees like the: ‘Chandelier Tree’ reached 315ft in height and 21ft in diameter. Stripped and with everything taken away. No roots, no branches…nothing left when your stripped clean of everything. Is this how Humanity is stripped and routed only to be somewhat trashed? If this is what America’s Humanitarian effort has come to:

    TIMBER!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Kim Shannon says:

    That’s so interesting! I wish I could have read that!

  6. Megan Klay says:

    Wow, thank you for sharing your experience. It was very interesting for me to hear your perspective. I too will always give leftovers if I happen to have them, and have been in the habit of keeping $1 bills in my glove box to give them away when I see someone asking for help. I LOVE the idea of carrying around granola bars instead to be able to feed people rather than give them money, as you don’t always know what someone will do with the money. Thank you again for sharing, and I’m so glad to hear this portion of your life was short-lived.

  7. ErinF says:

    Back about 10 years, I was homeless. I had been in a relationship with an abuser who broke me down mentally, gradually isolating me from my support system before escalating to physical abuse. Eventually, after he had spent all my money, accrued thousands of dollars in debt in my name, and beaten me to a pulp, he left me broke and facing eviction. I sold everything I owned to a consignment shop, getting intermittent checks that allowed me to eat every few days, but I couldn’t afford a place to live. The only homeless shelter with any beds available wouldn’t take me because I obtained a part-time job in the evenings, so I couldn’t be in the building before curfew. Things eventually got better, with the help of the one family member I could tell, who helped me into an apartment (I haven’t to this day told any other family members, because I wanted to spare them that heartbreak). There are a lot of people who don’t have the option that I did. I never turned to approaching people for food or money, but I was only in that position for a relatively brief time; if it had been longer term, I don’t know what I would have done (I did think of stripping, but was too terrified). Being cold and hungry for a long period of time will wear on you and drive you to desperate measures. As for the activist groups, I don’t think that they’re comprised of people who just go reaching for any injustice to satisfy some need, but people (maybe with experiences similar to mine) who see that the homeless are often unfairly judged and unfairly treated. I always carry protein bars or something similar, just in case someone approaches asking for money, or if I see someone with a sign on the roadside begging for food, because I know how much it sucks to not know if you’re going to eat that day. Punishing the homeless for being too poor and/or mentally ill to live out of sight, or trying to just sweep them under the rug and pretend that they don’t exist, is not the solution to the problem.

  8. Megan Klay says:

    Interesting. I was just reading an article in the paper today that was a three-part piece regarding the not only homeless, but drug addicted population in Denver. Apparently the city has a needle exchange program so that addicts can turn in used needles in exchange for clean ones – a business I’m not quite sure yet how I feel about. The article went on to say how some police are waiting outside of this needle exchange office to ticket people exiting the premises because it is illegal to have the needles, even though the business of giving them to the addict is legal.

    They also interviewed a couple of these homeless addicts, one who admitted to lying when begging for money saying that she was pregnant. Because of this lie written on her sign she’d been welcomed into some people’s homes until they realized she was an addict and was scamming them and was then kicked out. The girl said she never thought she’d turn into anything in life but an addict and that she didn’t feel bad about lying to others in order to feed her addiction.

    There are also social workers who try to reach out to this population to get them in a rehab program, but many of the addicts don’t want to get better or don’t want to pay the $57/day the program and medication costs.

    Not sure what the answer is, but it’s definitely a problem.

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