Thursday, October 01, 2009

Homeless People Spoil Republican Outings

Alex S. Vitale. City of Disorder: How the Quality of Life Campaign Transformed New York Politics. New York: New York University Press, 2008.

This excellent book analyzes homeless policies. Mayor Frank Jordan of San Francisco in 1993 began a campaign to remove homeless people from the city. Thousands of homeless people were ticketed by policy for minor crimes, hundreds of homeless were jailed, and homeless people were removed from public areas. Vitale argues this created more danger and hurt to thousands of homeless people. Mayor Giuliani repeated a similar campaign afterwards in New York. These programs are designed to improve the “quality of life” for residents but does nothing, in fact they make things worse, for homeless people. Penalizing a homeless person for being homeless solves nothing.

A Federal court in Pottinger v. City of Miami rules in 1991 that Miami could not make it a crime to commit an act a homeless person must do as a homeless person when the city offers no alternative to being homeless. The court ruled Miami had to designate an area where homeless people could stay without public government harassment.

Santa Monica, Ca. in 1993 passed a law that made it very restrictive to give free food to the homeless.

A major problem is that social programs for the homeless are severely underfunded. This invokes a contradiction when compared to the billions of public dollars spent on economic development. Another irony is the high costs involved in incarcerating a homeless person. Budget restraints have limited the ability of local governments to properly fund and implement social programs.

There is an increase in homeless worldwide. It is a result of global market changes. Local residents are understandably distressed by the increased number of homeless in their communities. Many communities have decreased the amount of low income housing, which has made the homeless problem worse. The author calls for greater social tolerance, social cohesion, social services that work, and regulating globalization.


Post a Comment

<< Home