(The featured image here is of Brian. He was attacked on the street because he hears voices and speaks to them.)
Truly, I’ve never experienced anything like this.
I’ve certainly read about it.
Dr. King writes in “Letter From Birmingham Jail:”
You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.
Change the word “demonstrations” with “Tent City” and “Birmingham” with “Akron” and you will have a nearly identical set of circumstances. History does indeed repeat itself.
I have these very pleasant meetings with the homeless services providers in Akron, the Continuum of Care. And then they go out in public and thrash around blaming me and the homeless for the homeless crisis.
From the Letter To The Editor from the Continuum of Care:
This past year we have seen an increase in homelessness. In exploring the cause of this increase, it appears the growth and development of the Second Chance Village is a primary factor.
According to them, we are the primary cause of homelessness in Akron. Never mind that Dozens of local homeless mothers and children are turned away at shelter every night in Cleveland – News 5 Cleveland
Never mind that the Continuum of Care is reporting an increase in homelessness in Barberton.
In Akron, the reason there is an increase in homelessness is because of the work we are doing at The Homeless Charity.
They have reported that the reason people “won’t leave” The Homeless Charity is because we have such an amazing community. I find it absurdly amusing that somehow people have turned a supportive, self-governing homeless community into a bad thing.
And now I’m hearing that it is my “charismatic personality.” “They will only go if Sage tells them to go,” they say. So I did an impromptu video of some of the residents of The Homeless Charity asking them if they wanted to get housing. Here is their response:
So, they then turn their blame on the victim.
I received this statement in an email from a leader at the Continuum of Care:
There are options and solutions, but sometimes it just comes down to a person not capable of understanding or not having the ability to get along with others or follow through on plans.
I tell the Continuum of Care that I will demand any person take a house if it is offered to them. That they either must take the house or leave our village.
And then the Continuum of Care tells me I’m being cruel to them by forcing them to leave.
Their excuses to why The Homeless Charity tent city is bad squirt this way and that way like squeezing a water balloon.
But the excuse never goes one direction: Blaming themselves.
It is Sage’s fault. It is the community’s fault. It is the homeless people’s fault. Never once have I even heard them suggest that they may need to look in the mirror themselves.
I think the debate over tents versus homes reveals a deep truth about homelessness. Homelessness isn’t just the lack of a home. If my home got crushed by a tree tomorrow, I’d have somewhere to go right away and I’d get a new one when the time was right or rebuild my old one. Homelessness is a manifestation of a deeper personal dysfunction related to addictions, trauma, bad luck, poor health, mental illness, loneliness, low job skills, the absence of a family who can help you, etc. Homeless people don’t simply need a home. They need this full range of human wants satisfied that are absent or diluted when you’re homeless: love, safety, sympathy, empathy, mutual support, productivity, some sense that life is more than suffering.
All the Continuum of Care has is houses. And, may I add, houses preceded by a great deal of paperwork, meetings and bureaucracy. There is no checkbox for needs like: love, sympathy, dignity or self-respect.
The Homeless Charity and Village has done one thing and one thing only: It has shown the glaring, gaping hole that is American homeless services.
Before us, homeless people coward in fear in dark allies, dumpsters, various woods and under train trestles.
Today, the homeless have come out of the shadows and have stood up for their rights as American citizens who demand to be treated with dignity and respect.
Homeless service providers make services for a people they have never consulted with. We are run by homeless people themselves.
Homeless service providers have a very strict process of entry into the system. We just take homeless people the way they are.
The entire homeless system of America is outdated and antiquated.
At the turn of the 20th century, cars were still a far-fetched idea. People didn’t know much about this newfangled vehicle and those that did, well they didn’t think it wouldn’t catch on.
I’m quite sure the ice business men of Sandusky said things like “People will always need ice.”
At one point, Sandusky was the largest American producer of ice west of the Hudson River. The ice blocks men harvested from Sandusky Bay were shipped as far as New Orleans, said James Miller, history chair of the city’s bicentennial celebration.
This is America. Things change. We are a country based on innovation and entrepreneurship.
American government and American homeless service providers must stop wringing their hands about the effects of things like self-governed tent villages and, instead, focus on the causes that created the tent villages.
I’m sorry to say, the soul searching is going to take you right to broken government policies and dilapidated homeless services that began in the 1980s.
I assure you: I did not cause our tent village. I merely let it happen. The cause of our tent village is the American homeless system.
The homeless services industry is fundamentally broken. They know it. And they are doing everything in their power to divert attention away from that reality.
So they accuse and blame and chastise in hope that the inevitable locomotive of change and evolution will not come roaring into town. But I’m here to say: the train is already at the station. The change has already come to town. Things will never be the same again. I will not back down and homeless people will cower in the shadows no longer.
I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.