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38 Days – 38 People

On Monday, September 17 – 29 Days Ago – Akron City Council voted 8 to 4 to shut down our tent city.

“We support people living in safe housing indoors, not tents,” said City Planner Jason Segedy, who crafted the action plan after consulting the CoC. Segedy added that he and the CoC are committed to working with Lewis to move the needle on homelessness, and not just for people living in tents at 15 Broad St.

That’s from here: Tent city’s homeless residents must vacate by Thanksgiving

All along this journey the city has confidently said there is housing for everyone that needs it. Literally that’s what they said.

Akron City Council votes to end homeless camp, find housing for dozens | fox8.com

Heckman said there are enough available beds in the county to accommodate those affected, many of whom have mental health or substance abuse issues. The action plan calls on Continuum of Care to meet with each person and develop housing options for each.

The Continuum of Care also said that our Tent City is the cause of homelessness increasing 71%.

Mar-Quetta Boddie, Rebecca Callahan, Keith Stahl and Fred Berry: Second Chance Village is not a solution to homelessness

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. Since the opening of the village, our unsheltered homeless population grew by 71 percent in one year.

This isn’t simple victim blaming. This is blaming the Good Samaritan.

This is the mindset of an addict that sees no problem with their behavior.

Not one time have I heard anyone in the city or the Continuum of Care say they have a problem.

As of today, through incredible diligence and determination by the homeless workers of Akron we have housed 6 people.

DESTINY – HOUSED!
JOSEPH (CJ) – HOUSED!
JOYCE – HOUSED!
JARED – HOUSED!
ZAK – HOUSED!
ERAN “Red” – HOUSED!

I am beyond excited for these people.

And because of you in our donation drive, we have been able to pay for things like back electric bills, moving expenses and things they need for their houses.

It’s truly incredible.

But there is another side to all of this.

It has taken 29 days to house 6 people. That’s just over 1 person every 5 days.

And truth be told, that’s amazing work, if you think about it. Here are people that have lived on the streets for months, if not years, and we are putting them into houses to the tune of 1 a week. That’s an impressive feat.

But that’s not the bar we have to achieve.

All of these people must be housed by Thanksgiving. Through no basis in research or understanding the homeless population, that’s the random deadline the city has given us.

As of today, our pace needs to be to house 1 person every single day until Thanksgiving. And not just Monday through Friday. We have to house a person 7 days a week to meet this deadline.

I’m now hearing rumblings that “well, we might not actually be able to house all these people by Thanksgiving. Some of them might need to spend a “few days” in a shelter.”

This is a situation where those in charge are happy with the way things are and they don’t want to see anything change.

Change is scary. And change for people in the non-profit world is terrifying.

These are all truly good people.

But they have become beholden to a bureaucratic system where government funnels them millions of dollars every year to maintain the status quo.

This is why people become resentful of government. They don’t innovate. They don’t adjust. They just maintain… Usually while asking for more money.

These are people who, while very good intentioned, have never seen the business end of the capitalist system.

Bureaucracy is insulated from the invisible hand of capitalistic natural selection. This is the world I have been forged in for the last 2 decades.

If you aren’t a better and cheaper solution than the other guy you will die. It’s just that simple.

Bureaucracy, for the most part, has never experienced that kind of raw survival of the fittest.

So when guys like me and Dave Murray, with his tiny houses, come along we instantly get shot down. They will do anything, include lie and blame us for hurting the homeless. When in reality they are just terrified that the truth might get exposed.

That housing the homeless is incredibly difficult.

To say that all a homeless person is missing is a house is to say that all an obese person is missing is more salad in their diet. Theoretically that’s true. But the underlying reasons for obesity and homelessness are a complicated mess of emotions, psychology and mental health issues.

If there were 5000 empty apartments ready to house our 43 people I’m telling you the process would go no faster than what it is going right now.

  • There is finger printing.
  • There are background checks.
  • There are birth certificates, IDs and social security cards to get.
  • There are statements for the social security office to get.
  • There are intake processes.
  • There are orientations to get into programs.
  • There are countless trips to countless government offices to take.

Then there is the driving around looking at apartments.

This is all done with people who make ZERO dollars a day and have significant mental health issues AND have lived wild in the woods sometimes for years.

I’ve seen a woman sleep in the grass beside a railroad crossing with her dog even though she had a house.

These are feral humans. They are wild and completely suspicious of a system that spit them out onto the violent, cold streets of America months or even years ago.

This isn’t just about putting people into houses.

This is about treating a condition called Homelessness. It has as many moving parts as treating alcoholism or any other behavioral-based condition.

For the leaders of homeless services to say that we just need to get people into houses is insulting to the homeless and is an outright lie to keep their millions of dollars flowing into them.

They know perfectly well what a complicated process it is to house the homeless.

  • What if you have 2 dogs?
  • What if you have an arson charge on your record?
  • What if you have a meth manufacturing charge on your record?
  • What if you are a sex offender?
  • What if you are so riddled with anxiety that you can’t imagine ever moving indoors?
  • What if your spouse has a bad record? Will you move without them?

They know this is a mess.

But to keep the money people happy they just keep blaming people like me for increasing homelessness and repeating the party line that “we have houses for everyone that needs them.”  (And may I say, that line is a total lie in and of itself. There is not a single county in America that has enough housing for the poor and extremely poor of their communities. We have 20,000 people on our low income housing waiting list here in Akron.)

 

Now let me just stop right here for a minute.

 

Perhaps you feel the frustration I feel through the words I’m writing here.

While I’m frustrated, I am not hateful.

I have no hate in my heart for any of these people.

If anything, I have pity for them. They are scared addicts of a steady supply of government money.

“What happens if a guy like Sage changes the system?”

“What happens if a guy like Sage shows the government that we don’t have the homeless situation handled? That we aren’t doing everything we can to help these people?”

Truth be told, I don’t know what will happen.

But this is who I am. I’m a change agent.

I was leading the digital marketing revolution in 1999 when people barely knew anything about online marketing.

I come at problems from a new perspective. I’m a trouble maker for industries that see no reason to change. This is what I bring to planet earth. It’s my “gift.” (I’m quite sure many people see it as an annoying fault. But change is inevitable, no matter how painful it might be.)

I see no reason why we need to build multi-million dollar buildings for the homeless that make developers wealthy when we have countless houses we’re just tearing down.

I see no reason why we can’t ask the homeless what they want instead of people who have never missed a single utility bill dictating the services homeless people get.

I see no reason why we can’t admit that getting people into housing is as hard as telling your uncle he needs to stop drinking so much.

This is an intervention.

I’m not here because I hate anyone. I’m here because I love everyone.

I love the homeless service workers that work insanely hard for these people.

I love the politicians that are just trying to do the right thing for their city.

I love the homeless service leaders that are just trying to keep their organizations afloat in a turbulent era.

I truly get where they are all coming from.

And, I hope it goes without saying, I love the homeless most of all. Had it not been for the endless support of my mother and my wife I feel quite confident I’d likely be out in the woods with these people.

I would rather die than be told to pray. I would rather die than be told to go to bed at 8:30pm. I would rather die than be stripped of dignity and be forced to shower in gang shower facilities.

Without a doubt, I would be one of the people that homeless leaders would accuse of “not wanting to be housed.”

“Sage just wants to live in the woods. He doesn’t want help.”

NO! I want to be treated like a human being. I am a person, not the animal you are forcing me to become.

I get the homeless. I will not quit the homeless.

Together we will all learn what being homeless means and what the homeless need.

We have not come to an end. We have just begun.

In the next 38 days, the city has committed to housing the remaining 38 people living at our facility. This feels like Schindler’s List to me. This is just a small drop in the bucket of a sea of never ending homeless people that will need help.

But, damn it! I’ll take it. House these people:

ANDREW – Not Housed
ANTHONY – Not Housed
BRIAN – Not Housed
CHARLA – Not Housed
CRAIG – Not Housed
CRYSTAL – Not Housed
DANIEL – Not Housed
DARRELL – Not Housed
DAVE – Not Housed
DION – Not Housed
DONNIE – Not Housed
DUANE – Not Housed
ETHAN – Not Housed
GARY – Not Housed
GEORGE – Not Housed
HUGH – Not Housed
JACK – Not Housed
JAMES – Not Housed
KATE – Not Housed
KENNY – Not Housed
KEVIN – Not Housed
MARK B – Not Housed
MARK W – Not Housed
MARY – Not Housed
NIKITA – Not Housed
PATTY – Not Housed
REBECCA – Not Housed
REINA – Not Housed
RICHARD C – Not Housed
RICHARD G – Not Housed
RICHARD R – Not Housed
ROBERT (Sully) – Not Housed
ROCHELLE – Not Housed
SONYA – Not Housed
TRAE – Not Housed
TYLOR – Not Housed
VIRGINIA – Not Housed

 

4 thoughts on “38 Days – 38 People

  1. Sage, I am so touched when I read your blog. You are indeed doing important community work. When we see the term “homeless people” we tend to focus on the first word and forget that it’s the people we should be focusing on. You are a saint. Akron officials (elected and non-profit) need to recognize your work and open their eyes to the needs of people! What kills me is that Charity Village is really about opening the floodgates. Those 43 individuals who need and needed housing are only the tip of the iceberg. If those folks can all get the assistance they need, there are many, many more living out in the environments who could come and occupy their places – searching for help, too. This is not simply about those 43. It’s about the community disease called “homelessness.” Is there a cure?

  2. I am not here to hurt people’s feelings. I am not here to lessen the powerful work that is being done in the homeless services community. I am here to raise the bar. No one is talking about how we can do better. But we all know, full well, that we have a great distance to go to do better by the homeless in our community.

    This might be painful to hear. But we have to hear it. This is the only way we are going to grow and get better.

  3. Will like our elder at the ward meeting (Barbara Williams) said they need to growUP” one of the many stupid things the elders of Akron say of the homeless! Easy for her to say her mother helped her out, after 2 or 3 days homeless! Seagy, Stahal etc live in LALA Land, there aren’t any beds for these people , their not being put in front of others on the homeless list. CSS and COC lied and now Sage is doing all the work! CSS and COC don’t have the beds, house etc, but they got Sage doing Case Management for them! And at the end of this Akron Police are going to come in at Thanksgiving, with the taxpayers issues 4 equipment. AnD EVICT 2ND CHANCE PEOPLE OFF SAGES PRIVATE PROPERTY!

  4. Akron said they could find homes for each of these people in 30 days. They lied. Sage and the donors are housing these residents. The City decided to sell the park across the street from Sage’s building. Whoever bought the city park is building a restaurant and apartments. They did this and now they want the homeless out of sight. What kind of money passed between the builders and the city??? Money talks. The homeless is not increasing because of Tent City, it is increasing because of the administration etc. Yes there are signs up all over for jobs. Think about it, part time jobs, minimum wage. Just how far does that go?
    Minimum wage $8.25 an hour. If they are lucky to get 40 hours a week, which most will not give them because they don’t want to give them health care etc, they will make $330.00 a week X 4 weeks equal $1,320.00 a month BEFORE TAXES ETC TAKEN OUT.
    So RENT $500.00 a month, UTILITIES 200.00 a month. Then you have gas for car, insurance for car, another 100.00 plus each month. So really where is the money for groceries, toiletries, clothes etc. THERE IS NONE. So don’t condemn anyone that deserves help from the government. We support every politician with welfare. You talk about people on welfare getting free money, health care, food etc, what about us supporting the politicians with all of this for them sitting on their lazy butts, collecting welfare. Doesn’t that seem to bother anyone? It sure bothers me for my family in Tent City to be shunned by the officials. I donate, I try my best to help everyone of these wonderful people. If more would stop with the hate towards others, we could all work together to help everyone instead of just the politicians. God , I am sure does not like what is happening to this country.

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