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Friday, January 22, 2016

A SOLUTION FOR OUR HOMELESS PROBLEM

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser recently reported on a  survey regarding homelessness.  Not particularly surprising, but here is a partial list of the most important issues in 2016 for people in Hawaii:
  1. 20%  Homelessness
  2. 14%  Economy
  3. 11%  Rail (this is the mass transit system currently under construction)
  4.   9%  Traffic
  5.   8%  Affordable housing
  6.   4%  Overdevelopment
  7.   4%  Education
  8.   3%  Environmental concerns
  9.   2%  Politics
  10.   2%  Potholes
  11.   2%  Thirty Meter Telescope (the second largest if built, but stopped by protesters)
Then there was a whole bunch of one percenters:
  • Dengue fever
  • GMO crops
  • Sugar plantation closing on Maui
  • Energy/Electricity
I guess I'm out of touch, because these are the topics I write about.  So I'll today provide a solution for Hawaii's #1 concern:  homelessness.

It seems that President Ronald Reagan is mostly to blame for the current state of homelessness, for his policies effectively closed most mental hospitals.  Some say this attitude was representative of Hollywood culture in his earlier days when psychiatry was somehow linked to communism.

I'm still wondering why, on my 65-day Grand Around the World Adventure, in every city, I just did not see much evidence of homeless people.  What are other countries doing right?  First, then, a comparison:

                                                              Unsheltered
                                          Number        Percentage

     World                        100 million        1.4%
     European Union        2.5 million         0.5%
     Hawaii                          6335              0.3%
     USA                          0.7 million         0.2%

Why, then, did I not see more homelessness in Europe?  Budapest has the worst problem on the Continent, but I don't think I saw one homeless person.  Manila is the World #1, with New York City #2 and Los Angeles #3.  Boston, D.C., San Francisco and Phoenix are in the top 15.  No Honolulu?  So why is this the #1 problem in the state?

While Hawaii's homeless rate is only a little higher than the national average, we are dependent on tourism, and this inconvenient image affects public perception.  Plus, our weather is too good, so people can arrive, then somehow subsist without having to worry about snow or 100 degree temperatures.  This is why I can't imagine why Phoenix has so many homeless.  In any case, Hawaii's homeless population has risen by 32% since 2010.  So what is the solution?

I first suggested a pathway eight years ago when I published my SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.  Here is an excerpt:

Finally, whether they like it or not, churches have become the solution for the homeless problem, or should. Church space is not used at night and the membership generally wants to do well. A well-organized community effort, moving these dispossessed to the religious “home” of their choice, will spread the predicament, provide contacts with caring members and furnish a second chance. There will be problems, of course—for the homeless are just that because they are on drugs and have a high incidence of dysfunctional characteristics—but, certainly, there should be solutions. Military bases, public schools and other concerns with capabilities, land and a roof to offer should be part of the team, of course, but churches are best. The problem is that most churches are still looking the other way. In time, success stories around the world will galvanize religion to work with government and industry to help solve the homeless problem.

In that above poll, Governor David Ige (right) received a 34% rating for addressing the homeless problem, while Mayor Kirk Caldwell  (left) got a score of 45%.  Frankly, with the limited funds available, dangerously high presence of mentally ill and drug dependent individuals who don't want to be institutionalized and range of other impediments, our State and local governments don't stand a chance of solving this problem alone.

HuffPo had an article suggesting that we need to ask more of homeless people, and that for far too long we've had a paternalistic attitude:

Homeless people can succeed. It will require more programs that offer quality training and support services. It will also require a collective recognition that our expectations have been insufficient. Rather than condemn the homeless to lives on the government dole, let's demand more of them -- and ourselves.

There is a point here, but that is most of the root of the problem.

So what is this solution?
  • First, call a world summit on solving the homelessness problem.  I guess the United Nations should be this organizer.
  • Develop a strategy by bringing together world political, military, educational and church leaders, charitable organizations, and the like.  Arriving at a common plan should be about as easy as getting the world to agree on global warming remediation.
  • The solution, though, is simple:  military bases, public and private schools, governments, charitable organizations, etc., must work together to rehabilitate the homeless and improve the course of their future.  See quote above for exactly what has to be done.
  • The mentally deranged and hopeless drug addicts will need to be isolated.  Laws must be passed to care for them.   Finding funds will essentially be impossible.  Most of this will not pass the ACLU test anyway.
  • For the USA, don't build any aircraft carriers for a decade and stop production of the F-35, applying these savings (just that jet fighter will provide more than a trillion dollars) to this solution.
What are the odds of this happening?  Nearly zero, for churches will just not do this, parents will insure that schools remain pure, the military will argue that training to fight terrorists cannot be compromised and the Military Industrial Complex has no sympathy for the homeless.  On the other hand, I've been wrong before.

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