The “Homeless Problem” across the country including here in Alaska is a racket. Few of the organizations involved in “working with the “Homeless” genuinely want to solve the issue; if it gets solved then thousands of people will no longer have jobs. There are individuals working in the system the genuinely want to help.
Homeless people fall into several categories. Here’s just a few:
People who are down on their luck, have lost their jobs. This group often includes families and need Society’s help to get back on their feet. If we can help these people prior to them losing their homes, it is less expensive than helping them get back into housing once they are on the street. Once they become ‘homeless’ it is more expensive for society to help them get back into stable housing, get a job and become contributing members of society, but it can be done. I have personally encountered several such families. The adults in every family — be it a single or dual parent family — have been trying to get a job.
Need Medical (including mental) Health assistance. These people are often called “mentally ill” but if they received treatment, they could become contributors to society. They will likely always need society to help them but as a Civil Society We Should be Willing to Help Them. There are 2 major obstacles to getting them the help they need. 1) Alaska does not have enough mental health specialists to treat the general population or the homeless population. 2) If people do get treatment, the medications take several weeks to reach full effect. Without someone to help people keep taking the medication they will stop, saying it does not help them. This is true of people who are homeless and people who are not. We need more social workers and case managers to encourage these people to take their medication so they can begin the long climb out of homelessness.
Addicts. These people need to hit ‘rock bottom’ or get some type of intervention to help them get into a program that will help them overcome their addiction. Addictions include alcohol, and various drugs. Alaska does not have enough treatment beds, treatment facilities or treatment specialists to deal with the number of people who need help.
People who choose to live an unstructured life on the streets. These people are the minority and will not leave the streets because, on some level, they like it.
People who are not homeless but blend into the homeless population. They victimize the homeless by committing crimes against them, and crimes against the general population, but because of them blending into the homeless population they get away from the crimes they have committed. They are also the ones that set up the ‘chop shops’ to alter stolen goods in or near the Homeless camps
The amount of money spent to help homeless people continues to grow, yet the number of people who are homeless is growing at a similar rate.
Millions of dollars are thrown around at the Federal, State, Borough (County), and City, levels yet it does not seem to help.
From my limited list, if the groups supposedly trying to help the homelesswould concentrate on the people that fall into “groups 1 and 2, then, many people would be moved out of homelessness. This is not to say people in the other groups should not be helped — they should. I am saying if efforts were focused on helping the first two groups Anchorage would see the largest bang for its buck. Then the general population would likely be more willing to continue committing resources to reducing the number of homeless people in our city.
Yet none of this will happen because private industry is making huge amounts of money off the government under the guise of helping the homeless, while at the same time government organizations continue to grow, getting more money, more jobs, and more power by not solving or even improving the homeless problem. Private industry includes both, so called, nonprofit and for-profit entities. There is no reason for private industry to reduce the number of people who are homeless; doing so would decrease the amount of money it receives from government at all levels, not to mention the donations they guilt other businesses and individuals to donate to them.
Every time we hear of a “plan to address homelessness” we are told that whatever else the plan contains they will connect the homeless with services. What this means in Anchorage is the Muni will spend money paying other organizations to help homeless people sign up for Medicaid and food stamps, while at the same time providing three meals a day at homeless shelters. They do not try to get people signed up for federal housing programs.
Why? Because those programs require that a person have a private place to store, prepare, cook, and sanitarily clean up, as well as food, a private bathroom, and a limit on the number of people in a residence. The limit is based on the size of the residence. Were homeless people to get federal housing assistance, along with the Medicaid and food stamps, there would be a decreased need for nonprofits that provide meals for the homeless.
Medicaid and food stamps are paid in large part by the State of Alaska which, as we know, has a huge budget deficit. Federal housing assistance money is administered by Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, but does not come from the state budget.