Could not the "homeless problem" be a reflection of a deeper problem — a society that has chosen to spend more on bombs than people? Our dishonest, print-on-demand monetary system continues to create the largest gap between rich and poor ever. Government too often benefits the few at the expense of the many. Voters, befuddled by corporate, mainstream news, just keep electing and re-electing their corporate-beholden overlords and wonder why very little changes for the good.
So, what to do about the homeless? Token mini-houses are just a "feel-good" response that simply fails to address the scale of the problem. Why not create barracks-industrial type of housing? Some call it "warehousing the poor," but isn’t that's a lot better than freezing to death?
Advantages: a dry, warm, safe place to sleep; separate housing areas for children/families/the seriously drugged; bathroom and laundry facilities; an address for mail/job applications; phone access; a site where donations and basic medical care could be donated.
It could be policed and run largely by the residents themselves. Perhaps it could be heated by the slag that currently burns in the hills and in our lungs every year. Barracks living would be more comfortable than alleys, etc., but not so comfortable as a permanent lifestyle for those wanting to get back on their financial feet again. It could be a place where people could come and hire a worker for a day — rake leaves, clean windows, dig gardens, etc.
Government currently is the biggest obstacle blocking such a solution. Many laws and regulations that might make sense elsewhere would have to be modified or even eliminated for this proposal to work. If government could somehow be made more humane and reasonable, private donations could likely create and support such housing. With military barracks in 185 countries across the globe, surely local towns could afford to have their own homeless barracks. This could be a precedent for other communities to follow.
As a society, we have the wealth but not the will, so far, to solve this. We have bloated PERS programs, tiered parking lot mausoleums, subsidized shopping malls but not enough money to keep people from freezing to death under bridges? How about a conference with city officials, churches, charitable organizations, the police, the public and, yes, the homeless to get this rolling?
Lastly, perhaps ideas on how to create something completely unheard of and untried before: a government of, by, and for the people.
— Tom Clunie lives in Ashland.