When I first started redeveloping the concept of another of my websites, Camp Casey U.S., about six months ago, I was looking at ideas for interesting news feeds to go on additional tabs along with the 2016 presidential candidates. I figured homelessness would be a good subject for people to learn more about. Over the next few months, I have become astonished at what clearly is a war on homeless people in our country of liberty, freedom, and independence.
In the last three months alone, the homeless on the west coast have been under a particularly aggressive siege by the municipalities where they reside. In Seattle, Los Angeles, San Bernidino, San Diego, Salinas, and others; and then on to Dallas, New Orleans, and Denver, police have shut down encampments, put people on buses out of town, and liberated and disposed of personal belongings. In Los Angeles, the city council actually passed an ordinance limiting the number of possessions a homeless person may own to whatever will fit into a sixty gallon trash can – with the lid on.
Apparently, the limitation is an official codification of what has sometimes been described at the “two square feet rule.” When police arrive and shut down the only homes they have, homeless people often must pick up and carry whatever they can and walk away on their own “two square feet.” While doing some cursory research for this column a homeless veteran described it this way:
Sit up! Stand down! Pack your shit, Get out of town !!!
The west coast sweep, apparently a well orchestrated and illegal conspiracy by those municipalities, appeared to begin in Seattle, Washington when a large encampment under a six mile expanse of elevated interstate was targeted and cleared out on the mayor’s order. One report suggested that as many as 5000 people were affected beginning in a camp where two people were killed on the same evening of the mayor’s announcement. Seattle is the city that actually budgeted to provide tickets out-of-town, based on unverifiable and arbitrary criteria.
Just yesterday, Black Lives Matter protesters interrupted a public forum in Denver to demand that the ban on “urban camping” be ended and that the sweeps that have been occurring at night be stopped. Apparently, being homeless in Denver is “illegal” at face value. According to the 7NEWS & TheDenverChannel.com website, Bianca Pullen, a BLM protester asked: “There’s not [a] plan in place, we’re moving them along to get them services… what services?”
Some of the numbers are staggering. The Seattle, Washington mayor stated that there are as many as 32,000 children in that state without “permanent housing.” Other reports have suggested that there are as many as “50,000”, “30,000”, “5,000”, “20,000” homeless on their streets depending on which municipality is currently being scrutinized. Similar numbers have been bandied about for east coast cities, including New York. The numbers are, however, as inconsistent as they are staggering. Some indicators suggest as many as half a million, 500,000, people are “homeless” in the United States at any one time, and as many as half of that, 250,000, are “chronically homeless.”
Only a moron could conclude that these tactics are anything other than brazenly unconstitutional. The sad part is, there are so many people who are willing to “stand for America” and yet they conveniently look past the human rights violations and the constitutional rights violations occurring in their own back yard. Apparently being a patriotic American citizen is predicated upon, “not in my backyard” and as long as constitutional responsibility isn’t inconvenient, or doesn’t cost any money to assure. It just doesn’t work that way.
I am, by the way, moderately conservative, and I do not believe that throwing money at every problem will solve it in of itself. However, simply shuffling people from one place to another does nothing to solve the problem, and certainly serves to further injure the individuals affected by cruel, inhuman, draconian… and constitutionally illegal policies. And God forbid I actually say this, but, there has to be a federal level intervention to discontinue the illegal practices by municipalities. There must be areas where people can camp, even if indefinitely, without fear of the shuffle. Laws that criminalize poverty simply cannot be allowed to stand – and municipalities who attempt to set up their own freestanding nations should incur punitive measures from the federal government.
Another of the problems I’ve noticed while doing my research here in Huntsville, is that many of the so-called “advocates” perpetuate falsehoods thereby inciting a negative public attitude toward homeless people. First Stop, an agency of the Interfaith Mission Service (IMS), is a perpetual offender. The Downtown Rescue Mission (DRM) and the North Alabama Coalition for the Homeless (NACH) also chime in with the same falsehoods and stereo-typing. According to them, virtually all homeless people are drug addicted, mentally-ill, thieves, or veterans with PTSD. That simply isn’t true.
My observations and research, both on and off the Internet, tell me that as many as half of the homeless population actually works on a regular basis, often part-time, and it just doesn’t pay enough to take care of the basics of housing, food and clothing. Others are in transition while awaiting benefits and housing after injury or health problems, or simply reaching old age.
The point is that there are all too many “advocates” that apparently have ulterior motives, as well as the municipalities who simply wish to ship their “problems” somewhere else. Then the vicious cycles are perpetuated, which doesn’t work, because someone else ships their “problems” back to where they came from. In the global warming equation scientists sometimes talk about something called a “positive loop.” It’s when the warming conditions begin to accelerate because they feed upon themselves. There is no doubt, when advocates and municipalities denigrate and stereo-type all homeless people, they are creating a “positive-loop” of negative propaganda for the public that only serves to generate animosity and backlash towards the homeless population.
For municipalities, the motivations are obvious at face value. Most municipal governments are run by local business leaders that come from small businesses, and real-estate agents and developers, and all the periphery business that that includes. Their motive is plain enough. They make more money when they are able to present a magical, delusional, fairyland view of the world they are trying to sell to their prospective customer. Advocates have a two fold motivation because not only are they often dependent on those same business leaders for funding, but hey are often more interested in advancing their own, liberal, socialist, political agenda than they are in helping the individuals in need.
My guess is, if the socialists are left to advance their agenda, somewhere near half to seventy-five percent of all people will be living in state sponsored, public housing. The rest will be the aristocrats who own and control the housing. Now, I’m all for people getting assistance that need it, and that includes housing. The bottom line is, however, not everyone is well suited for public housing and all the strictures it comes with, which I therefore regard as a method of false imprisonment to begin with. Worse than that, a review of socialism in European countries reveals about the same rate of people “sleeping rough” as in the U.S. Socialism, for who…?
And again, the positive loop comes into play because wealthy real-estate moguls are often the ones who are providing the housing and being paid by government subsidies. They whine and cry about being taxed, until the rent checks come in from Uncle Sam for helping the homeless. The fact is, no homeless person is obligated, ethically, morally, or legally, to accept public housing if they find it objectionable, or for that matter to accept overnight lodging in a halfway house, rescue mission, or any other such restrictive contrivance. Anyone who says they have to is engaging in extortion and denying the constitutional rights that come with being a citizen of the United States.
From my perspective, this discussion always boils down the same way, and it is at the very essence of the extremism, divisiveness, and turmoil we see on the political stage, and the 2016 election today. The ultra conservative, cut throat, TEA Party type zealots can only see the next dollar under their nose, and the ultra-liberal, bleeding heart, socialists can’t see anything other than the next dollar under their nose.
When it comes to homelessness, it’s time to end the delusional, magical thinking that says everyone must neatly fit into a predefined box, or go to jail for placing their two feet and a shack on the ground they were born to inhabit. If anyone thinks that the ground is not an unalienable right, I invite you to go live in the Amazonian jungle where you can continue your suspension never leaving the trees, or pack your own goddamn shit and move to China.
And, the irony is, the world has changed and the U.S. economy is in decline, and like it or not, this is the new reality that U.S. municipalities must accept and must accommodate. If they continue the delusion and draconian approach in the future, it will only result in more problems and trouble.
This page will be set with a “sidebar” on the right that includes the homeless feed already mentioned. The feed is a google service based on the search keyword “homeless” and may include a number of other stories that are not directly related to homelessness as defined in this column. When a fire destroys a home, the residents are usually described as “homeless,” for instance, when in fact they usually have an infrastructure that solves their displacement rather quickly. Etc.
I suggest you book mark this page for those headlines, or visit and bookmark the “Pot Luck” tab on the Camp Casey U.S. site. I think you will be amazed at just how extensive and how serious the homeless problem really is. And hopefully, the next time two people get hurt in a terrorism plot somewhere in a foreign country overseas, you might have a new perspective when you consider the hundreds of thousands living in a state of perpetual injury – every single day – right here in this country, right in your backyard.
© 2016 – Jim Casey
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I don’t mean to suggest that it’s an uncomplicated equation. Even still, individual situations can be evaluated and then building materials, propane, carbon monoxide detectors, solar panels, and maybe even electric and water hook-ups, can be provided resulting in a more responsible “due diligence” when the well-being of the individual is placed ahead of political agendas and arbitrary regulation that has no legal validity in context anyway.
What was believed to be Howard’s remains were found by Huntsville police about two weeks ago at his residence off of Cleveland Avenue in downtown Huntsville. At the time, media reports indicated that a positive ID was still pending because he had apparently been dead for two to four weeks prior to being found. I was told a few days later by a media representative that there was uncertainty as to whether or not foul play had been a factor, also owing to the condition of the remains.
Tent City is now being threatened by ALDOT with an illegal and unconstitutional eviction from the camp which has been in existence for nearly 20 years. State officials have made a number of excuses for shutting down the camp, all of which ring somewhere in the range from moronic to ridiculous.
The impending move of the Downtown Rescue Mission has sparked a mean spirited and hate filled public debate. Some people apparently believe that some other people are less than human and must be relegated to an official caste without basic human rights, less dignity that a dirty wet dog, and nothing more nutritional to eat than “scooby snacks.”