Tuesday, February 26, 2008
My friend over at Whitney's Corner offers this homely urban scene along with his typically stunning nature photography this week. It's the Crisis Clinic suicide prevention sign, posted at either end of the jumper magnet that is the Aurora Bridge. He points out that the Crisis Clinic declined to be listed as the resource referral point for homeless campers on the very excellent grounds that no "resources" exist to which those displaced might be referred, and that this means you have better odds of being helped if you're a suicidal bridge jumper than a harassed and homeless camper. A reporter I recently spoke with tidily described this as the "inconvenient math" of the homeless encampment issue.
Since I flunked algebra twice in high school, I should probably get Dr. Wes to help with this, but let's try to render the equation. More than 2,600 people surviving outside during a recent One Night Homeless Count translates as >2,600. The number of full shelter beds that night are still being tabulated, but we do know that the emergency overflow capacity of about 100 beds was maxed out at 140 occupants. So max capacity might be represented for now as x + 140. So (x + 140) - >2600 = ->2600 mathematically demonstrates there are more than 2,600 people who were counted on one night surviving outside of a maxed out emergency shelter system.
It's almost painful to watch Patricia McInturff dodge C.R. Douglas's dogged line of questioning regarding this problem. She trips over her victim-blaming rhetoric as she visibly struggles to evade the obvious. No simple thing to do in public. No wonder she's retiring. Having spent whatever credibility she has telling transparent lies in service of the Great White Whale, a lanai in Hawaii must be looking pretty damn good.
Back to the Crisis Clinic, we have an email to the City from their ED Kathleen Southwick. If the City puts their number on the signs, she writes, displaced campers "will just be mad at us and we won't be able to help find their stuff and most likely won't be able to help them find shelter. ... I know the City's goal is to keep people off their property, but people are living there because they don't have anywhere else to go."
It's that inconvenient math thing again.
But Community Service Bureau Director Darby DuComb didn't have this problem. She just followed orders and listed their number. What's she have that the Crisis Clinic doesn't? Outside of a different boss?