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July 14, 2006
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Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 248-- Meanest Cities To Homeless.
Worst. List. Ever.-
You may have seen this list of the meanest cities to homeless people:
1. Sarasota, Florida
You may have even read some or all of the 161-page report by the National Coalition for the Homeless (.pdf), detailing how and why the above cities are so darned mean.
But did you know that this list is perhaps the weakest piece of garbage in the history of lists?
Take Austin, Texas, for example, the 15th meanest city to homeless people. Where, I wonder, would Austin have been had it not built this multi-multi-million dollar homeless resort and spa (and architectural marvel) on a prime piece of real estate in touristy downtown:
Believe me, Austin is far from the 15th meanest city to the homeless. It, on the contrary, could easily compete in a "coddles the homeless too much" contest. This is a city with homeless people industrious and organized enough to produce a regular newspaper, the Austin Advocate. This is a city that made this monstrosity...
... a celebrated Austin icon and a "respectable member of the community." Leslie Cochran even ran for Austin Mayor more than once, garnering enough of the vote to appear on the local news election night ticker.
This is a city with local judges who declare reasonable anti-panhandling ordinances unconstitutional.
This is a city with a main "drag" (Guadalupe Street) next to The University of Texas campus that is polluted and overrun by foul-smelling, junkie "drag rats" (or "worms"). These aggressive panhandlers, many of which are young, hackey-sack-playing hipsters from middle class families who gravitate to Austin from all over the country because of its reputation for being cool and laid back, are just part of Austin's unique charm, according to many locals.
In short, this list is absolutely bogus. Austin, Texas is about as far from mean to homeless people as a city can be. And what's with San Francisco being on this list? Isn't this the city that is known for heaping lavish government benefits upon its homeless population?
Let's get real, here. There are people who are legitimately homeless due to circumstances beyond their control. They aren't junkies. They might be disabled or elderly or the victims of catastrophic life events. They deserve our help. But when a society coddles the homeless, creating an environment where homelessness is celebrated as "charming," where artistic suburban kids dressed up as hobos feel part of some sort of privileged class (and can rake in hundreds of dollars a day), we're doing a disservice to everyone, particularly people with real problems.
Whereas some homeless people with severe mental illnesses would have once been confined to some sort of mental health treatment facility, thanks to Ken Kesey (and other crusaders like him), we now view those places as dangerous, dehumanizing looney bins. Thus, instead of mentally-ill folks being taken care of in institutional settings, they are roaming the urban centers of America on their own, more helpless and vulnerable than ever.
And let's also stop pretending that being "mean" to homeless people is causing or perpetuating homelessness. Far from it. And, media, do a little legwork and expose these sorts of lists as bogus, will ya? Please? For once?
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Offshoring & Outsourcing.
Posted by Will Franklin · 16 January 2006 12:47 PM
He'd make a cuter girl if he would just shave.
And not just his face.
Posted by: Ken McCracken at January 16, 2006 02:52 PM
If he was a real man he'd wear a thong with lace...
Anyway, On a personal note: Dallas as only #6!
Posted by: Rob B. at January 16, 2006 04:11 PM
Ft. Lauderdale just had that homeless beating case by a teenager... I used to give the homeless people on the street money! After I saw a man on the corner with a sign "Dieing for a Cheeseburger". I bought him a cheeseburger and tried to hand it to him. He refused it and started cussing me out saying he didn't want my ***#$%%%^ cheeseburger! Luckily my husband was in the car behind me and he told him to go beg on another corner! Since then I never give them money unless it is a charitable org.
Posted by: Zsa Zsa at January 16, 2006 04:29 PM
Santa Monica is not mean to the homeless, unless letting them camp out in a public park overlooking the ocean in the downtown area is what you call mean.
Posted by: laxpat at January 16, 2006 07:02 PM
I was visiting San Francisco with my wife who was concerned about all the homeless. Then this old homeless man on a bike, with a cat in a basket pulled up. As he was waiting for the light to change, he was busy going through all the change that people had given him while panhandling on the waterfront, tossing all the pennies into the gutter. Probably a $1 or more.
She was speechless. But she didn't feel bad for them any longer.
Posted by: Fred Fry at January 16, 2006 09:40 PM
Whoo hoo! Number 5! I knew we'd be up near the top.
Posted by: Jim Rose at January 17, 2006 12:27 AM
Funny how it didn't take very long for Houston to go from being the largest homeless shelter the country has ever seen all the way down to #7 on this list in just a few months. Never has there been more money, clothes, or time given to people in need in US history. I know more people who donated their time than those who didn't. Even though it's no longer the fashionable cause for Hollywood that it was in September, local taxpayers are still footing most of the bill for public education. This just shows how ignorant the ones are who put this list together.
Posted by: slug at January 17, 2006 07:12 PM
Gee. Austin sounds a lot like Flagstaff, AZ (in Coconino Cty. - the only county in Arizona to vote for Gore in 2000.)!
Anyway, I wasn't surprised to see Flagstaff on the list.
Flag is a hard place to live if you don't have a roof over your head. We can go to bed on a March night with a balmy 65 degrees outside - and wake up to a foot of snow on the ground, and a wind-chill in the single digits. And the dry mountain air may be good for one's bronchitis, but unchecked exposure to our high-altitude sun and drying winds is hard on the softer parts of the human body.
Don't move to Flagstaff unless you plan on living in a roofed, insulated structure, folks. Stay put in San Francisco - they pay you to be homeless there!
Posted by: Steve at January 18, 2006 01:59 PM
Flagstaff Mean to Homeless? Letter:
From Feb. 9, 2006 edition, Flagstaff Live:
Flagstaff: not as mean as previously reported
The rural, mountain city of Flagstaff, loves its homeless neighbors. So says a report released by a national homeless rights organization called City Limits.
Posted by: Steve Schneider at February 14, 2006 02:43 PM