“The City of Auburn is trying something new to fight the homeless problem,” reports Matt Markovich for KOMO News, September 30.
It’s called work, “doing chores for a place to stay.”
Actually, it’s not a new concept, this idea of work, aka accountability and expectations – as opposed to enablement and entitlement.
It’s as old as the planet and has always been a plague of the people populating it: laziness.
“Our brains may be hard-wired for physical inactivity,” concluded researchers in a recent study as reported by Brian Calvert, KOMO News, September 21. “That means we have to push ourselves BIG TIME to actually follow through and get some exercise.”
Providing the push is Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus who said of the city’s “tough love approach” with regards the homeless: “We need to expect more from people.”
Meanwhile, on the very same day as the Mayor of Auburn decides enough is enough with regards homeless encampments littering the river, the Mayor of San Francisco takes a similar hardline approach.
In “a city infamous for its homeless camps” San Francisco’s first black female mayor – elected this past June, London Breed – says ‘no more.’
As reported by Vianna Davila for The Seattle Times, Breed said, “Yes, we’re going to be compassionate and we’re going to offer support and help. But no, we’re not going to let you erect a tent on the sidewalk and keep it there. We’re going to ask you to take it down and, if you refuse, then we’re going to take it down.”
The consequences are expected. The homeless are not happy.
‘Perfect,’ Breed in effect responded, saying the city’s purpose is to push people to the point where they say, “‘OK, fine, I’ll accept the help.’”
Compassion fatigue is the response by Seattle businesses who are questioning their obligation to pick up used needles discarded by the homeless.
“The owner of the SoDo Grocery Outlet believes the city should pick up the needles on private property too,” wrote Markovich for KOMO News September 25.
“‘It’s not my obligation,’ Nathan McLaughlin said. ‘It’s an obligation of the city if they can’t get the people using the needles to dispose of them properly.’”
At least Tyrone gets it. Though homeless, Tyrone “sells ice cold water and soda on the side of a busy off-ramp instead of looking for a hand-out.”
Paul Mueller’s story about Tyrone was picked up by KOMO News September 21.
“I believe that God will help those who help themselves first,” he said. “So you have to step up to the plate before you go out there reaching to the Lord.”
Tyrone’s sign to passers-by says what all government-types need to read in order to help the homeless: “Just earning my keeps.”
Hopefully the Pierce County Council will likewise soon step up to the plate.
HELP that would have provided needed hope for the homeless is on hold.
Although The Homeless Empowerment Labor Program (HELP), was already budgeted, the council last year approving $225,000 to fund it this year; despite an application process that found a Tacoma nonprofit fit to help the homeless find stable employment; the recently released Pierce County Budget does not include a line item for HELP.
I inquired of the County Executive’s Office why.
A spokesperson for the Exec’s office replied that she “did not know when it might go up to the Council for passage. It is the prerogative of the Executive to determine the best time to bring it back to Council.”
Hopefully HELP will move from it’s current on hold status soon because when push comes to shove – either one – are what the homeless need.