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Thread: Homeless shelters

  1. #41
    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    99 percent invisible had an interesting podcast on one approach to this issue. Apparently 40 years ago LA decided on a "Containment" plan for skid row downtown, basically locking it into a roughly 50 block area. It was interesting to hear how it happened and how it played out over the ensuing years up to now, and how it is under threat as the land is considered just too valuable.

    https://99percentinvisible.org/episo...tainment-plan/

  2. #42
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikingLady View Post
    I really do not understand why say the old buildings downtown have to have so much done to them to upgrade to today's standards so the homeless can rent rooms. A room with a bath on each floor seems like a far better option then the street. One old building in town I read is 3 floors of little rooms as during the 1900 era that was all travelers needed to sleep at night. Nope it would a Million dollars to bring to code. SO the buildings rot.
    Welcome to the tyranny that is the Local Building Code.

    LBC is a sludge of zoning and regulations designed to protect everything -- at the expense of people. It also (in many places) is used as a weapon in class warfare.

    I'll guess those old buildings do not have three-wire (grounded) electrical service and that the service they have is inadequate for modern it-all-plugs-in life. It is likely there is asbestos in pipe insulation, flooring materials, insulation, etc., and that not remediating that during a remodel would open up developers and perhaps even the municipaility to all kinds of lawsuits, so it has to go. Door openings may be too narrow for wheelchairs and walkers; window openings may be too low to protect curious toddlers. Code now likely requires smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide detectors, some of which likely need to be wired together for the sake of notification in multiple-occupancy housing. There likely needs to be a certain amount of parking space available off-street depending on how many people live in a room or apartment -- and the neighbors aren't going to be happy with it in the form of a surface lot. I'm sure there are rules about how many people (especially unrelated people) can live in a room or apartment. The list goes on.

    LBC and zoning are why "granny flats" can't be added to many properties -- but neither can rusty old campers and motorhomes bigger than the houses to which they connect. They're why we can't enlarge sidewalks for humans and human activity -- because if we narrow the street at all, the fire department can't get their biggest piece of equipment down the street along with required clearance around parked vehicles.

    Not to say building code and zoning are entirely bad. But there are so many stakeholders, many wielding legal authority over aspects of them, and so many of the rules are geared (intentionally or unintentionally) to keeping out poorer "less-desirable" people and protecting the investments of existing landowners.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

  3. #43
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    Thanks, SteveinMN. Makes sense when you add up the costs like that. I don't think our society wants to see certain safety codes only enforced in buildings for middle-class or rich people.

    I did read somewhere that NYC is paying over one billion dollars/year for homeless shelters and for subsidizing housing costs. (have to double-check that number, but it was a staggering amount.)
    My question: is government required to provide housing in the most expensive areas just because someone wants to live there? or is it fair to say, you can live in this general area but not necessarily exactly where you want to be? I don't mean ship the homeless off to the most rural unpopulated areas where there are no/few jobs, either, but seems like there should be a happy medium somewhere.

  4. #44
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lainey View Post
    My question: is government required to provide housing in the most expensive areas just because someone wants to live there? or is it fair to say, you can live in this general area but not necessarily exactly where you want to be? I don't mean ship the homeless off to the most rural unpopulated areas where there are no/few jobs, either, but seems like there should be a happy medium somewhere.
    No, the government is not required to provide housing; you find what you can where you can afford to live (even if it means spending a lot outside of rent/a mortgage to commute an hour or two or longer per day). That's one of the drivers behind living-wage proposals around the country and a driver of a burgeoning homeless population. Right now in some areas there is no happy medium.

    It's a complex situation. Take a look at what's going on in the San Francisco Bay area: so many people employed there cannot afford to live there, even with primo IT salaries from Silicon Valley firms. That is unsustainable, and it can have a chilling long-term effect on employment at those companies (and, therefore, the entire region) because the company can't economically justify the pay that would cover the higher cost of living experienced by the workers they want to attract.

    California is a bit of a special case for several reasons, but, for example, the Seattle metropolitan area has displayed some of the same issues over the last 20 years or so. And I'm seeing it to a lesser extent here in Minneapolis/St. Paul, where a lack of rental properties close to The Cities has driven rents up quite a lot while wages have gone up just a little. There are developers interested in building dense housing but they have trouble coming up with projects which don't dwarf the blocks they're intended to inhabit and getting past NIMBYs who think the city should look just as it did a hundred years ago.

    And that's where LBC and zoning come in. More people might be interested in living with roommates but there are (arbitrary) limits on how many unrelated people can live in a structure even if it's a mansion. There are minimum lot size restrictions which give neighbors lots of elbow room but also thwart efforts to build on smaller lots -- it's actually illegal to do so. Having to perch 30-40 apartments on top of an excavated parking area (because no one wants to see parked cars even if cars are necessary to get anywhere useful from where one lives) is expensive and raises the rent or condo price from Day One.

    On top of that, today's commercial building code encourages (architecturally-uninteresting) slabs of concrete and glass that are squeezed out of a tube as quickly as possible to reduce labor costs. Without big changes, we'll never again see the likes of San Francisco rowhouses or New York City brownstones or their senses of place and human scale because new structures are not designed to a streetscape beyond what the city fathers think will sell and they aren't built to well enough to be economical to modify or maintain.

    Something will have to give. What that is, I'm not sure yet. It likely won't happen all at once, either, even if there's another real estate crash, because so many people are tied to the way things were and so very few can appreciate forward vision.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

  5. #45
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    so yesterday early biking through "that" part of town I passed several of "them". I was well dressed in my biking clothing, slightly cool as it was 28 degrees. The last fellow was lightly dressed, sleeping curled up on picnic table with his big stick. I thought umm if that was a dog I would go get it

    My ride home I thought how strange this is the shelter issues. IF I took the summer off and hiked the AT or NCT I would hopefully make it to the shelters for cover. Wooded shelters with wood platform bunks. I wondered why if one is doing it for fun that is ok yet if no choice we do not offer these? The not in my back yard would be brought up and YES I would not want shelters in my back yard, but there are many places along my trail "they" sleep anyhow. Never too far from the city. Another note there is a big pavilion one in the city and one at church outside in township on trail. The one in the city usually has sleepers, church in township to far out.

  6. #46
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikingLady View Post
    Wooded shelters with wood platform bunks. I wondered why if one is doing it for fun that is ok yet if no choice we do not offer these? The not in my back yard would be brought up and YES I would not want shelters in my back yard, but there are many places along my trail "they" sleep anyhow.
    The wood shelter with bunks is designed and expected to be temporary "emergency" shelter. I'm sure if someone were to take up residence in one for a couple of weeks local law enforcement officers would evict them.

    Providing any means that makes it more comfortable for people to be homeless generally does not fare well with the locals and appears as a government endorsement of the matter. In a culture that often regards even renters as not "having a stake in the community", individuals with no fixed address are viewed quite suspiciously. It does not help that homelessness/poverty often is believed to be "just" a personal moral failure and that if the poor/homeless only buckled down and got good jobs and worked hard the problem would go away. It ignores a bunch of structural and mental/emotional issues these folks face (as it does the xenophobia and participation in class warfare of the general public), but it makes a great soundbite and enables the believer to move on to their next great thought.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

  7. #47
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    I struggle with Homeless shelters. Our town has a really awesome one. And if you build it, they will come. Word spreads about the shelter and people from the city (Chicago and further) come to your little town and before you know it, it changes from Mayberry to Gothem. Do I believe people need to be helped. Yes I do. Do I believe they need to really want help and be willing to change. Yes I do. But when they don't want to play by the rules, they start a camp under the bridge (tent city) and the drinking and drug use that brought them down continues. And the town becomes worse instead of better. It just shows that even the best building doesn't help without a change of heart in it's occupants.

  8. #48
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    One thing I don't understand is not moving to a LCOL before you are broke. When we were young we lived in upstate NY but the COL was too high for the wages. After 2 years we moved back to WI while we still had $ to do so. It is the same when people don't sell a house they can't afford and let it be foreclosed on.

  9. #49
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    Badlilocks: I struggle with those thoughts also. Quaint little town next door is opening a shelter for women and bringing them in from Detroit. This is not close, these are not locals. The arguing that is going on about where will they then move onto? No work or transportation in little town. And the men that will follow. All good views with no answers. IDK I really don't.

  10. #50
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher Terry View Post
    One thing I don't understand is not moving to a LCOL before you are broke.
    I think there are too many non-financial considerations. I know it's popular for lots of retirees to leave Minnesota because it is a high-tax/high-services state. But I don't think I could pry DW out of here with dynamite for all the family and long-time friends who are still here. And, as other posters noted, high services tends to attract people who are on the edge financially who are just one problem (lost job, prolonged sickness, totaled car, etc.) away from a financial condition which precludes moving anywhere else.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

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