Thursday, October 28, 2010

Housing the homeless ... in jail

I thought this was an interesting money quote from a speaker at a Lubbock City Council meeting on the subject of criminalizing homeless people storing or using camping equipment on public property:
“It kind of contradicts statements by City Council members that they do not want to spend taxpayer money housing the homeless” if they end up sending homeless to jail, said Chad Wheeler, pastor of Carpenter’s Church.
No kidding. Creating criminal penalties results in paying for their housing, too, plus food bills, medical care, etc.. That's certainly an irony in the stance of those who would criminalize homelessness but reject spending money on supportive housing options.

15 comments:

A Texas PO said...

I have been following the Haven for Hope in San Antonio, a collaboration between city, county, and nonprofit organizations to provide housing, education, vocational training, and recently substance abuse and mental health treatment to help the homeless reintegrate into the San Antonio community. Though there have been problems, and the rules for the programs are really strict, it is at least a step in the right direction. Simply locking these folks up isn't going to solve the problem of homelessness. Once they are released, guess what: still homeless. If there was ever an area in need of public investment and public-nonprofit partnerships, the homeless problem seems to be a very worthy cause.

Anonymous said...

I hope Chad Wheeler has some Lubbock folks in his corner who can successfully resist this movement. The fine Christian folk in Lubbock--and Tulia, and Austin, and . . .--need to become red letter Christians--you know, the kind that read a red letter Bible--and pay special attention to those words in red in Matthew 25:31 and following.

Rev. (red letter) Charles

Prison Doc said...

Yep, jail's a lot more expensive than contributing to a good local shelter program....

Angee said...

Lubbock is where they said they were going to "teach Willie Nelson's band a lesson". Does anyone know what is happening with that?

Don said...

This has been going on for awhile. The mayor and one councilman are against even having a committee to study the problem. They didn't take action on the criminalization because many members of the public spoke against it at the meeting on the basis that is was, well, a stupid idea. Impose a $500 fine, which everybody knows they can't pay. Then what else is left to enforce the fine except jail? Cost $45 or so a day to keep someone in the $100 million dollar jail they just built. You could get 'em a decent motel room for that. Rev. Charles--Actually I'm afraid that some of the, um, Christians around here don't read the red letters. Nor the black letters. They mostly read the white part. (makes it easier to "insert" your own interpretation. =)

GingerMcChic said...

It's a lot like that here in SW Pennsyltucky. Everybody's working for the magistrate. People I know have become homeless, unemployed and dispossessed over something as trivial as an unpaid $50 fine or inability to pay for car insurance. They'll pull your license if your child is truant, making it that much harder to get an unwilling kid to school; both logistically and authority-wise. One of the craziest laws I've heard of.

"Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is strong!" --Zarathustra

Anonymous said...

wow so a debtor's prison is back in the mix again..

I guess we can expect barge's parked on the Rio Grande to house them due to the already overcrowded conditions..

Yay Texas, stay classy!

Anonymous said...

Grits hatin' on the Hub City again? County jail doesn't have room for all of them (despite what Grits said about said jail some months ago.)

Plato of the Plains

Anonymous said...

Jail is not the answer, duh!!!. Most of the homeless suffer from mental illness and substance abuse. Treatment is what is needed not a jail cell.

Suzette Watkins said...

We can't 'help' those who don't want help. I say, put them to work for the taxpayers which municipalities CAN do, (if they have the courage.)

zeety said...

Ginger - that is horrible.

I'm not a fan of the Tea Party, but when I hear stories like that I start to think that may a "2nd Amendment" solution isn't so bad.

Anonymous said...

"We can't 'help' those who don't want help. I say, put them to work for the taxpayers which municipalities CAN do, (if they have the courage.)"

So are you saying the state should bring back indentured servitude for the homeless? Municipalities have no more right to force people into labor as than they do for putting them in jail due to homelessness. SO you are all for modern slavery then? Will contact my representative immediately to get rid of the pesky Constitution!

Suzette Watkins said...

Anon - I thought the post was on 'the subject of criminalizing homeless people storing or using camping equipment on public property.' So we'd be enforcing our laws that say you can't use public property for personal use unless you have permission, (just like everyone else). Please don't put words in my mouth, I'm not saying 'criminalize homelessness,' for gosh sakes.
We're saying it cost more to put them and keep them, in jail for breaking laws, I say, put them to work. Homelessness isn't a problem as long as one can maintain it w/out enfringing on the taxpayer's property.
Or better yet, do away with the law and we'll all be able to camp for free. Doesn't matter to me, but we can't protect one segment of society from the law. (Constitution.)

Suzette Watkins said...

Anon - I thought the post was on 'the subject of criminalizing homeless people storing or using camping equipment on public property.' So we'd be enforcing our laws that say you can't use public property for personal use unless you have permission, (just like everyone else). Please don't put words in my mouth, I'm not saying 'criminalize homelessness,' for gosh sakes.
We're saying it cost more to put them and keep them, in jail for breaking laws, I say, put them to work. Homelessness isn't a problem as long as one can maintain it w/out enfringing on the taxpayer's property.
Or better yet, do away with the law and we'll all be able to camp for free. Doesn't matter to me, but we can't protect one segment of society from the law. (Constitution.)

Angee said...

"No kidding. Creating criminal penalties results in paying for their housing, too, plus food bills, medical care, etc.. That's certainly an irony in the stance of those who would criminalize homelessness but reject spending money on supportive housing options."
Suzette, hundreds of thousands of people have lost jobs and homes. We have entire families that are homeless and not by choice. Most have never experienced such financial trauma. Some live in vehicles and some live in tents and others live anywhere they can find a place.Few choose to be homeless. The rest have had such a heavy load of hardship dumped on them that they will never recover. They have been sufficiently punished. Some help would be nice for a change.