OneMoreVoter 
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Re: “Being neighborly in the Springs increasingly means forming bonds with those suffering homelessness

"Helping the homeless" is generally a good idea. Now, can we, as a community, have a serious conversation about "helping vs enabling"? Not all of the campers are "trapped outside". They are not all victims. A few, a minority, are willing participants. As the homeless industry continues to expand, we HAVE to "get to know" every person we hand support out to. Whether it is a donut, a warm place to hang out, a nights' sleep, a meal, a coat or a sleeping bag (to replace the ones tossed into Monument Creek); a handout can help or it can enable. Right now, we have no idea what we are doing with many of the folks we are supporting. It would be much healthier, for our mission, for the individual recipients and for the community if; when appropriate, to say "Sorry, no more for now. We are not in the homeless enabling business. Please return if you decide to change the life you are living". I believe many providers are unaware of just how badly their "help" is harming our community. I'm not sure if the various providers are even aware of the anger they are generating within our community by enabling chronic homelessness in a few (but very high profile) individuals. We will never end homelessness but we can certainly reduce it a noticeable bit by knocking off the enabling. One nice artefact of paying attention to this issue involving just a few folks? The agency will end up doing better by the majority of people seeking help to get off our streets. We've been "helping the homeless" since the 1980s. I'd like to think we have learned a few things along the way...

Kicking folks out of the shelter for BS reasons like "missing curfew" is stupid. First thing if confronted with that sort of tale of woe is CALL THE SHELTER to verify the story. My experience, over a span of almost 40 years, of doing this is that most of the time, the "real story" involves fighting, refusing to work with staff or some other violation. Most of the time, the person involved "earned" his or her exit from the shelter. Not ALL the time -- that's where "getting to know the person" pays off. If they really ARE getting screwed by a system or an uncaring staffer, you can advocate for them. Again, it is only a few folks who need to be called on their life choices. Do this, for our sakes, their sakes and the community's sake. This current level of enabling hurts us all...

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by OneMoreVoter on 02/17/2018 at 3:01 PM

Re: “Posada blames weed for homeless influx in Pueblo, Councilor says they don't need a shelter

If your loved one is on our streets, do you really want all sorts of support for him or her to REMAIN on those streets?? Or, would you prefer a clear message of "There is lots of help, please come in." Support for your current lifestyle? "Sorry, we are not in the homelessness enabling business".

0 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by OneMoreVoter on 01/04/2018 at 7:21 PM

Re: “Posada blames weed for homeless influx in Pueblo, Councilor says they don't need a shelter

It is past time for the homeless agencies to face up to the fact that they are ENABLING a minority portion of the homeless population. The majority of homeless folks want to improve their situation and work with those trying to help them. The very visible and troublesome minority will use whatever they receive as handouts to stay where they are. The solution? The agencies need to "get to know" each and every person they hand stuff out to. The people trying to get off the streets can get the help the they need. The minority who won't (or don't know if they want to) leave the street scene can be gently informed "No more for now. We are not in the homeless enabling business". Anyone can change their mind and come back for real help. I bet if Pueblo put this into effect, we see a few folks finding their way up the road to Colorado Springs, a town known as a "great place to be homeless".

3 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by OneMoreVoter on 12/28/2017 at 7:03 PM

Re: “Reader: Let's talk about helping vs. enabling

Well, Peter, I have put in four-plus decades of providing aid to homeless and other people in need. During that time, I'd like to think we might have learned a few things. One of those is that handouts have unintended side effects. I've stated in many places that the concern is with a small minority of the homeless population.

The "Albuquerque plan"? It has not gotten rid of panhandlers in that city. It HAS however informed much of the populace there that the guy flying a sign very likely was offered a job THAT DAY and has turned it down in order to keep begging. It has had a slight positive impact on the scene. I believe we should run that experiment in our town as well. The "homeless establishment" sees no reason to even discuss this possibility. Viva la Status Quo - remember? There are LOTS of good ideas out there, I simply dislike seeing them go "SPLAT" against a brick wall and going no further.

Believe me, I am VERY well acquainted with the "it can happen to anybody" theme of homelessness. Nine years ago I enjoyed a comfortable income (with health care benefits) working as a nurse as I volunteered at several agencies in town. I did that lifestyle for many years. Got crippled on my employer's operating table (Penrose Hospital) and then FIRED by Penrose "because I could no longer do the work". Ended up in very poor health with no health insurance, could have lost the house. It really CAN "happen to anyone".

My main point is, that unless we as a community of providers (and funders) starting getting to know each and every recipient of this town's largesse, we will continue to have the "bum problem" as the Westside Pioneer editor terms it. It is NOT women with kids fleeing domestic violence, it is NOT folks coping with poor health and/or job loss, it is NOT someone who truly is "down on their luck". It is a real actively small number of folks who have opted out of trying to leave the streets. The Pioneer Editor makes it clear, he is only discussing the minority part of the homeless population who fit the "bum" catagory. Encouraging this is not good for these individuals and it is not good for our community in general.
Peter, if you had been attending the monthly homeless providers' meetings (CHAP), you would have been unable to avoid noticing the relentless replacement of volunteer driven services with paid people. It is unavoidable, the agency will take on a different atmosphere. "Sorry buddy, it's 5:08 PM. We close at five." That sort of thing. Ever been at the Soup Kitchen as they are approaching 1PM? The "Security Team" yells at you to leave so they can knock down the tables. The Kitchen didn't act that way in the all-volunteer days when Steve Handen ran it. I suppose I really shouldn't get upset at this process, it is kind of unavoidable, like growing old.
It sounds like we are on the same side, Peter. I simply like to approach things using both head and heart.....

5 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by OneMoreVoter on 12/01/2017 at 10:16 AM

Re: “Reader: Let's talk about helping vs. enabling

A theme "trimmed out of my letter" involves the fact that "helping the homeless" has become a thriving industry in our community. When you are a volunteer who supports him/herself by painting houses or doing nursing night shifts to be part of the community effort, your viewpoint is different than when homeless dollars feed the family, pay the mortgage and send the kid to college. You tend to be fonder of the status quo. Unfortunately, the process parallels that of our defence industry. "It really doesn't matter that the airplane barely stays in the air, as long as the factory building the landing gear remains open in our town"..... Our "status quo" of not knowing all of our recipients of support results in enabling of homelessness, the trashing of neighbourhoods around some of the agencies and that "brick wall" separating potentially involved citizens from those who run the show. Wasn't always this way. I personally was responsible for finding and promoting the concept that resulted in the creation of Homeward Pikes Peak. I helped found the clinic at the Soup Kitchen. Could I do this sort of thing now, as the effort becomes more and more "professional"? I doubt it very much. I keep harking back to Eric Hoffer's quote regarding movements: "All ideas start out as causes. They then evolve into businesses. Some go on to become rackets." Where is your favourite non-profit on this continuum?

7 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by OneMoreVoter on 11/30/2017 at 8:11 AM

Re: “This summer, homelessness is everyone's problem

This town is truly a "great place to be homeless".... All the handouts do help a majority of the homeless in their efforts to get off our streets. Unfortunately, those freebies also enable a sizeable minority of the homeless who are jerks, bums, and derelicts to hang out in our community. We have lots of folks like this in our city but we do not actively support them in this way of life - why should we do so with homeless folks? Some agencies (not in our town) get to know their clientele and if they are not interested in changing their lifestyle, are OK with saying "Sorry, no more for now". This can be done with love and respect on both sides. I believe part of this problem is that "helping the homeless" has become an established industry here. We have a growing number of CEOs, vice-presidents, supervisors, and directors who have an interest in the status quo. The local industry has evolved into a grant-funded, slow moving Leviathan. Homelessness has a number of causes, and most of those causes have been place since the 1970s. It'll become interesting when sufficient citizens start saying "enough". I've been involved with several of the major providers since 1972 (helped start several of then, actually). I'd like to think we have learned a few tricks since those days. One thing I have learned is that endless handouts do not help everyone. I would hope we would examine other community's successes and try them here. Again, we are dealing with a Leviathan......

6 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by OneMoreVoter on 07/02/2016 at 9:33 PM

Re: “Payment problems haunt employees at the Curry Leaf — and show weaknesses in the system

The laws are definitely tilted toward the employer in this community and state....I worked as a nurse at Penrose Hospital a few years ago. I became crippled as a result of botched surgery there (like a month in a coma!) and then was TERMINATED "because I could no longer do the work"!. My family and I lost the benefits, including health insurance, one month later? About the same time, a fellow RN came down with breast cancer and received the same charitable heave ho as well. We both consulted labor attorneys and got the same answer "Yup, they can do that". My big mistake was expecting my employer to adhere to a higher standard of ethics - (You know, those nice Catholic "values"....)

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by OneMoreVoter on 10/10/2013 at 10:48 AM

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