Somewhere along the last few weeks, the Ten Year Plan paradigm for ending homelessness sort of fell apart for me. The resources aren't there, and we don't live in some static bizarro world where 600 units of low-income housing means 600 more needy people housed, pure and simple.
We're being told that we've got homelessness on the run, and that it's not about poverty or inequality. Not really. It's about fucked-up dysfunctional people, and charity. It's about those who are the biggest drain on society. And our spiritual obligation to help the needy.
Apparently, the Bush administration gives a crap about these poor people, mainly because they cost so much. Most other poor people are pretty much on their own.
Homeless families, kids, and working-poor homeless have disappeared. The rural homeless are gone. No one sees them anymore.
There has been an odd convergence of focus on chronic homelessness and increased surveillance and repression of street homeless. Cities are passing tougher laws and exploring new strategies to aggressively encourage some people to go away.
It's all about getting them off the street, one way or another.
We've come to accept that homelessness is a technical and complicated issue, and few non-professionals can even understand it. And to half-believe that it's not about power.
It feels like we're in one of those creative moments where homeless advocacy needs to be re-invented and reunited with poverty — and everyone knows it — and we're not really sure what's next. But a lot of people are talking, and something is happening.
Some people maybe in Kansas might think the Bush administration is ending homelessness, but nobody here does. So what now?
Our very own Anitra Freeman gave the keynote last week at the State Coalition for the Homeless conference, opposite Nan Roman. She kicked ass.