Murdering the Homeless: Teens Obey Conservative Message

For 30 years, conservatives have been advocating Class Warfare, pitting one group against another for political advantage – whites against minorities, the poor against the middle-class, and the rich against everybody who isn’t. They have fueled their divisiveness with violent, eliminationist rhetoric and a relentless “blame the victim” ideology aimed at promoting guilt-free greed and self-supporting selfishness. They have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

The AP is reporting that five teenagers in Orlando, Florida, killed a homeless man for kicks.

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After Katrina: Why Isn’t HUD Building Housing?

Katrina + 10 months

(Video from

An editorial in today’s NYT finally does what, so far as I know, no newspaper has done since Katrina hit New Orleans: connect a few dots in the aftermath.

The Bush administration’s mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina housing crisis has often looked like an attempt to discourage survivors from applying for help. The House has taken an important step toward reversing this policy with a bill that would require the Department of Housing and Urban Development to issue tens of thousands of new housing vouchers under the Section 8 program, which allows low-income families to seek homes in the private real estate market.

Many of these families would have long since found permanent homes and settled into new lives had the Bush administration brought HUD — which was created to deal with these kinds of situations — into the picture at the very start. But Hurricane Katrina arrived just as the administration had made up its mind to cripple HUD and the successful Section 8 program, partly as a way of offsetting tax cuts for the wealthy.

The administration instead rigged up a confusing and inflexible housing program and put the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge. FEMA frustrated landlords and Katrina’s victims alike. Last year, one federal judge likened the convoluted application process — which too often led vulnerable families to lose aid without knowing why or having reasonable recourse to appeal — to something out of a horror story by Kafka.

With thousands of families scheduled to lose their temporary aid by September, the Senate should move quickly to pass this much-needed legislation. Hurricane Katrina’s victims should not have to keep paying the price for the administration’s misplaced animosity toward low-income housing.

It doesn’t go far enough, of course. It has become painfully clear in the year-and-a-half since Katrina that the Bush Administration sees the new New Orleans largely as a predominantly white corporate theme park. It has scattered hundreds of thousands of homeless black Orleanians to the four winds and targeted Federal money to reconstruction efforts downtown and to upscale white neighborhoods. The touchy racist aspect of the BA’s response is apparently not something the NYT is yet prepared to deal with.

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Homelessness: The Invisible Epidemic

A couple of years ago at The Revolution, I wrote about accusations that some hospitals in Los Angeles had been dumping indigent and homeless patients on Skid Row but couldn’t be charged with anything because it wasn’t actually a crime to do that. Yesterday, a bill was introduced in the California State Senate that would require hospitals to discharge homeless patients to any place they designate as “home”.

For a year, reports have surfaced that hospitals here have left homeless patients on downtown streets, including a paraplegic man wearing a hospital gown and colostomy bag who witnesses say pulled himself through the streets with a plastic bag of his belongings held in his teeth.


Advocates for the homeless said it was common in many cities for homeless people still requiring medical treatment to end up on the street or at the doors of shelters ill prepared for their medical needs.

“Hospitals don’t know what to do with them, and they think it’s the homeless agencies’ responsibility,” said Michael Stoops, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, a Washington advocacy group.

Mr. Stoops said local and federal laws were murky, at best, over where homeless patients should be discharged.

The proposed California law, written by members of Mr. Delgadillo’s staff and introduced by Senator Gilbert A. Cedillo, a Democrat from Los Angeles, would require hospitals to transport discharged patients to their residence or, if they lack one, to the place they identify as their home, typically a shelter.

“There currently is no law making dumping homeless hospital patients on Skid Row a crime,” Mr. Delgadillo said Thursday at a news conference. “What we really need is legal clarity that specifically prohibits it.”

This is canary-in-the-coal-mine stuff, to some extent. Though you won’t read it in the press, naturally, the homeless problem has been growing by leaps and bounds the last 6 years. Continue reading

Feds Shirking Responsibility to Homeless

Can homelessness end? Not this way


Like many cities, Seattle is working on plans to end homelessness in 10 years. But no city can pull off such a worthy goal without help.

Unless the federal government is a true partner, the now-chronic problems will entangle men, women and children who today still have decent shelter. But even as hard-pressed cities (and states) look at what they can do better, the federal government is in retreat.

Increasingly, the federal vision focuses on spotting opportunities to shirk more responsibility without getting much blame. Another small step backward is likely today, when the House Appropriations Committee votes on housing funds for next year.

A subcommittee has approved across-the-board cuts of some 4.3 percent for most housing programs. The full committee’s members, including U.S. Reps. Norm Dicks and George Nethercutt of Washington, ought to reverse the cuts. Sad to say, housing advocates fear committee Republicans might decide to do even worse by housing so they can restore money for space programs in House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s Houston-area district.

Homelessness is almost always an unnecessary tragedy. The federal government must join cities in resisting the apathy that treats this serious social problem as a routine and acceptable part of American life. (emphasis added by me)

‘Let’s see: housing for those homeless welfare bums or pork for The Hammer’s home district? That’s a tough one. Lemme think….OK. All done.’

Why isn’t it possible to restore the money for the space program and help build housing for those who need it when we’re talking about less money in total than the amount the Pentagon spends in a month on Star Wars R&D–the single most pointless and massive waste of government money ever devised? Why is that a priority, this sinkhole of $$Billions and Billions$$$ of our tax money over the course of 20+ years for a pipe dream that scientists admit doesn’t and probably won’t ever work and even the Pentagon’s strategists say isn’t necessary or an efficient use of defense dollars, when we’ve got hundreds of thousands of people living on the streets? When did paranoid fantasies get pushed to the top of the list and hard-core reality to the bottom? How did our priorities get so far out of whack?

The Shame Of Cheap-Labor “Conservatives”

by Phaedras

The shame of American homelessness

The economic crunch faced by America’s working poor is stark. Since 1979, U.S. housing costs have tripled. Some of that growth is the result of well-meant initiatives, such as slum clearance and rigorous building-code enforcement that forces rents upward. But governments have not compensated for the low-income housing deficit with more rent subsidies or more public housing. Both, in fact, have been gradually disappearing. Meanwhile, real pay, in dollars adjusted for inflation, went up just 1 percent from 1979 to 2003, the same period housing costs went through the roof.

They don’t adjust the change in housing costs for inflation, and they should have. But if you use the trusty-dusty CPI inflation calculator you will find that real housing costs, the biggest part of any working person’s budget, rose 20% while real wages rose 1%. This was during a period in which America as a whole got indisputably richer. Measured by the increase in GDP, America got 90% wealthier. Nearly double. But real wages went up one percent over the same period. That huge increase in wealth sure didn’t go to much of anyone in the bottom 60%. Ya know, the majority?

My question to any working person would be, don’t you feel cheated? Republican or Democrat, I don’t care. Don’t you feel cheated? Throw out the ideology, throw out the wedge issues, all I’m asking is, don’t you feel cheated? Because you should. Do you honestly think that the wealthy elite who collected most of that new wealth are really that much better than you? I don’t.

You could look at some of the abuse I’ve taken on this site, though I doubt you’ll feel like hunting for it. I will try to honestly summarize some of it. I’m an idiot because I used to be a janitor. Remember the days when there was no shame in honest work? I’m a mental defective because I’ve never risen above the working class. The same working class my great grandfather belonged to, and there was no shame in it in his day. The same working class that my grandfather started in, though he did rise to a high executive position eventually. The same working class that my mother, an LVN, was a part of. And there was never any shame in their being working class. Now I’m supposed to hang my head in shame for being a member of the working class because some Republican says so. If you’re one of those who think that, I got a little message for you: Sit on it and rotate, motherfucker. I’m at least as good as you and probably better. Money is not the measure of all things.

Like most Americans, I’m working class. Therefore I don’t deserve to make a decent living, not should I be allowed to reproduce. Who says? By what authority? It’s way past time working class people in this country started voting for their own interests. Yeah, I know, neither party truly represents our interests. The liberal elites don’t really give a shit about us, as right wingers love to point out, but the conservative elites, who seldom get mentioned, are downright hostile towards us. For better or worse, I think the Dems are where we have to start. If you strongly feel differently, I can understand that. If that’s the case, then work to change the Republican Party. Make them represent us. Someone should sure as hell be representing our interests. We are the majority.

Cross-posted at No Fear of Freedom.

S.F. Has a Plan for Homeless Problem

By Lee Romney, LA Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — City officials announced an ambitious 10-year plan Wednesday aimed at one of the nation’s most intractable homelessness problems, saying they hope to “abolish chronic homelessness” by replacing emergency shelters with permanent housing that includes supportive services.

The new plan, which Bush administration officials have praised as a potential national model, would try to move the most desperate street people out of shelters and into permanent housing where they could receive treatment for addiction, mental illnesses and other chronic health problems.

“It’s a significant day in San Francisco,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom, who campaigned last year on a pledge to attack the problem aggressively. “We’re moving … toward a goal and desire not to manage but to end homelessness. It’s brilliant in its simplicity, if we have the courage to change.”

For years, San Francisco has poured funds into social and medical services for the homeless while dealing separately with the issue of housing. That approach, officials say, has proved to be inefficient.

The city government spends about $200 million a year on helping the homeless. Of San Francisco’s estimated 15,000 homeless, 3,000 who are defined as “chronically homeless” use up about 63% of the money, said former San Francisco Supervisor Angela Alioto, who led the effort to develop the new plan.

The care of one chronically homeless person using shelters for housing, hospital emergency rooms for medical treatment, or jails, where inmates also receive medical services, costs $61,000 a year, city officials estimate. Permanent supportive housing, including treatment and care, would cost $16,000, they say.

Providing services more efficiently for the chronically homeless would free funds that could be used to help the other 12,000 people who are homeless for shorter periods of time, officials hope.

Mark Trotz, who directs a small, but highly touted, supportive-housing program for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said the trick would be reallocating money from the criminal justice and emergency medical systems to pay for more supportive housing.

“It’s a matter of us waking up and realizing that we’re spending the money anyway, but we’re spinning our wheels,” he said.

(To read the rest, click the title)

Police seek leads in torching of homeless man

‘cul’ at ratboy’s anvil dug out a horrifying story that is surprisingly unsurprising.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Police searching for leads turned to local news stations for help Thursday, asking them to air a videotaped torching of a homeless man who was sleeping on a bench. The videotape of the Tuesday night attack is of poor quality but shows six to eight people get out of cars, approach the sleeping man, then flee after flames appear.

“Then you see our victim kind of running around in a circle, flailing his arms and trying to put himself out,” Corpus Christi Police Lt. Rocky Vipond said.

Three stations in Corpus Christi aired the footage.

Lucas Adama Wiser, 21, remained in an intensive care Thursday with third-degree burns.

“We’re hoping someone might recognize that vehicle and possibly the group of guys,” Vipond said. “I don’t know if this was a joke that they thought they were playing on somebody or what their mind-set was, but it was a pretty sick joke.”

Police could not read the license plates or determine the approximate ages or ethnicities of the attackers. Investigators said they had not yet questioned Wiser because he was on heavy painkillers.

Vipond said there had been a few reports of other assaults on homeless people in the city, but it was premature to say if they were related.

The attack was caught by a video camera outside Corpus Christi Metro Ministries, a private charity.

The Rev. Robert Trache, director of Metro Ministries, said the incident was at least the third against homeless people in a 24-hour period. He said one person was dragged along the street, another person was beaten with a belt buckle. He said both incidents involved “groups of young people.”

He said it prompted an emergency meeting Wednesday of caregivers around the city.

“We were concerned this was beginning to be a pattern,” he said. “My gut feeling is that there are people who sometimes decide that they will become vigilantes and attack people … and view this as a civic good when it’s really a crime.”

He said there were an estimated 5,000 homeless in the city of about 300,000.

This comes via Phaedrus at No Fear of Freedom, of course, and, of course, he wrote a piece on the evil event that I can’t improve on.

In order to claim that progressive taxation is theft, you have to insist that everyone earns everything that happens to them. The poor are poor because they’re bad people who make bad decisions. The rich are rich because they’re really good people who make really good decisions. The effects of luck and society are negligible at best. If you can’t assign to the individual total responsibility for everything that happens in his life, then you can’t assert that the rich have an absolute right to keep their money.

You have to insist that this is as just a society as it possibly can be. This is critically important. If all of this isn’t true, then it’s easy to morally justify a progressive tax in order to redress injustice.

I don’t know what happened in this individual case of course, but there have been many attacks on the homeless and other poor and immigrants and what have you. Do I think that David Brooks or Rush or the Savage would torch a homeless man? To tell you the truth, it’s not something I spend a whole lot of time thinking about, but I suppose if one of them did I’d be very surprised. However, most, if not all, human behavior exists on a continuum, with the Mother Teresas and Ghandis near one end, I suppose people like Torquemada on the other. Brooks is at least a little bit mean, Limbaugh meaner, Savage meaner than that.

Some people are so mean that they’d torch a homeless person purely for fun regardless of the social atmosphere. But some people are only mean enough to do it if they think homeless people are bad people. And the right is telling them that the homeless are bad people.

Far as I’m concerned, the right is sacrificing the poor and homeless on the altar of Mammon. I really hope they have to explain that to their vengeful God one day.


Homeless Representative Is…Homeless

Two years ago, the city of Los Angeles created an ‘advisory’ panel called the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council. The idea was to give actual residents a voice in city government. Then last year the DLANC voted to creat a ‘skid row’ seat, and this year several homeless candidates are running for it.

Organizers of the 2-year-old city-funded advisory panel created the unusual seat to give an official voice to the estimated 11,000 people living in and around skid row. But the number of homeless candidates running in the downtown council’s second election has taken even some of the participants by surprise.

“I actually didn’t think there would be much competition,” said Max Delsoin, who graduated from law school at Washington University in St. Louis but now lives in a hotel near skid row.

Interest in the council from a group often perceived as disengaged and disenfranchised is so high that two other candidates without permanent homes are seeking to represent the Fashion District and Central City East on the 27-member council. The downtown neighborhood council, like 80 others across the city, advises the mayor and City Council.

As the graceful old buildings around skid row are transformed into luxury lofts and upscale stores and restaurants, candidates like Ali want to make sure their community isn’t forgotten.”Our voices need to be at the table … to help City Hall make decisions,” Ali said, explaining that he thinks the city’s leaders lack the “political and creative will” to address the homeless problem.

[Candidate] Delsoin, who wound up downtown a year ago, thinks homeless shelters are dehumanizing and ought to be reformed, with “food that’s not expired” and better education and job-training opportunities.

But some of the candidates, he figures, are also seeking “self-actualization because, in every aspect of their lives, they are demolished, humiliated and seen as non-persons.”

Having an elected seat reserved for a homeless person may be unique to Los Angeles, according to Donald Whitehead, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington, D.C.

Uh, yeah, I bet it is. Too much of reporter Jessica Garrison’s article seems to find the whole thing amusing, what with one candidate pushing a shopping cart while he campaigns and another a self-described ‘monarchist’. But to give her credit, she does find time to note how serious the issues–and some of the candidates–are.

But Ali, though engaging and nicely dressed, is missing a lot of front teeth and did not look the part of the hip, downtown loft dweller. Neither the handyman nor the security guard offered to help him get to the apartments upstairs.

So down the street he went, past the discount clothing storefronts and men sipping from paper bags, and into the lobby of that other type of downtown residence, the kind of place with a locked metal door where tenants rent rooms by the week.

“Hi, I’m Bilal Ali,” he told a young woman in the dingy lobby of a hotel on Los Angeles Street. “A vote for me is a vote for you. This is for the neighborhood council. This is folks like me and you, getting our voices heard.”

Skid row is loud, colorful, pungent — an explosion of humanity. Tents, cardboard boxes, makeshift beds and sprawled bodies crowd the sidewalks. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and drug dealers share space with preachers and pickpockets. Free meals abound, but dignity and a private place to go to the bathroom are hard to find.It is a world few understand if they have not lived there, many homeless people say.

“I consider this my home,” said Garcia, who said he has lived on and off skid row since losing his job in 1991. “I’ve met a lot of really good people down here.”

If elected, he said, he would press the police to stop rousting sleeping people from the sidewalks at dawn.

“It’s making people’s lives more difficult — people who already have a lot of difficulties. They are dealing with drug addiction and poverty and looking for jobs and, on top of all this, they have the police.”

Isn’t this what democracy is about? Giving a voice to the voiceless? And they didn’t think anybody would care.

No Homeless Problem in America

Or so people keep telling me. Results of a brief Google search:

DENVER, Colorado (AP) — Members of Denver’s growing homeless population want the city to allow a tent city near the heart of downtown to provide temporary shelter.

“The tent city is one more alternative because there is not enough sufficient shelter for Denver’s homeless,” said Randle Loeb, a homeless man who helped write the “Denver Tent City Initiative.”

The initiative calls for year-round temporary shelter and showers and drinking water for about 40 people. It was submitted Tuesday to the city’s homeless commission, which was appointed by new Mayor John Hickenlooper to find solutions for the city’s homeless population.

The number of homeless in Denver has risen from 1,985 in 1990 to 9,725 in 2003, according to a study by the Denver Homeless Planning Group. The Denver Human Services Center opened a temporary shelter in its northwest Denver office last year after a homeless man died in freezing temperatures in a city park.

Portland ORE–JACK TAFARI speaks English, Dutch, Jamaican Creole, some Hindi, and some Russian. He has lived in various parts of the U.S., Europe, Canada, and India. And he is homeless, an identity he claims every time he speaks. But, as of last Saturday, he may be on the road to a home–or, at least a permanent place to call home.An organizer for “Out of the Doorways,” a unique program that has set up tents in undisclosed locations around Portland as part of an effort to provide shelter for the city’s homeless, Tafari is in charge of recruiting “soldiers” to head up the first dozen or so people who will live in the encampment. But, with a city-wide ordinance banning such camping, it is unclear how long they will be able to maintain a site. On Saturday, December 16, the group set up their first site. Two days later, the police and fire marshall forced them to leave; which they did. In a procession of shopping carts, the group moved to another, undisclosed site. As long as possible, they vowed, they would continue this cat-and-mouse game with the police. In a recent interview, Tafari reflected: “We’re not terrorists; we’re not even radical. We’re just homeless.”

Over the past few months, street roots, the media advocate for homeless people, and others who work with the city’s homeless population may have come up with a solution to the trying riddle of providing a “home base” for the city’s homeless–an ad hoc, semi-permanent outdoor community.

“Every city has people sleeping in doorways,” points out Bryan Pollard, managing editor for street roots. “We’d like to see Portland do something to make us a leader in the nation and find an alternative.”

Although difficult to count, estimates in Portland range from 3000-6000 people without housing per year; 2000-3000 on any given night. Officials and advocates agree that the city’s shelter beds cannot accommodate all the people who need them. In spite of the enthusiasm from the city’s homeless and their advocates for the so-called “Dignity Village,” the group already has run afoul of an anti-camping city ordinance that has been in effect since 1981. The ordinance prohibits “camping” in certain public places. Defining “camping” broadly as “any place where any beddingor any stove or fire, is placed, established, or maintained,” the ordinance has restricted options for the homeless.

Honolulu–A tent city to house the homeless would be built on five acres of city and county land beside Wai’anae Boat Harbor under a plan created by a grassroots coalition trying to find a solution to one of the state’s most serious housing problems.But Camp Hope, as the facility would be called, is being widely criticized by residents who say it would be a magnet for the homeless from around the island.

“We do not want to be known as the homeless capital of Hawai’i,” said one resident.

“How are you going to keep this from becoming a homeless dumping ground?” wondered another.

Homelessness has exploded on the Leeward Coast in recent months, and surveys indicate the area now has 20 percent of the approximately 6,500 homeless on O’ahu. The number of homeless people on the Wai’anae Coast includes more than 300 people under age 16, according to local service providers.

Semi-permanent tents are a common sight along the coast’s beaches and parks.

These battles can go on for years. Sometimes you win

PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) — A one-acre tent city established by Portland’s homeless has won the right to be called a campground, a designation that finally makes it legal.The 60 residents of the area, called Dignity Village, have battled for four years to gain legal recognition for their encampment of tents, scavenged planks and cardboard boxes, all of which violate the city’s zoning codes if defined as housing.

The campground status, which four of five city officials voted for Thursday, gives them the right to stay in their self-regulated tent city.

“Usually, when I became homeless, I went into the woods,” said the village’s treasurer, Tim McCarthy. “I was all alone — this was the first chance I had to be around other people in the same situation.”

–and sometimes you don’t.

DENVER (News 4) A contingent of Denver’s homeless has lost a year long battle to create a “tent city.”The mayor’s Commission on Homelessness Monday voted down the concept.

Opponents said a tent city faced too many obstacles.

Among the drawbacks were that it violated Denver’s zoning code, no site was ever found and safety concerns for kids was always seen as an issue.

What brought this to mind was Seattle’s on-going battle over where–and whether–to allow a ‘tent city’ in a parish churchyard to house their homeless over the summer. From SHARE/WHEEL, the housing advocacy group that’s promoting the idea:

There are approximately 6,000 people homeless in the City of Seattle each night. Homeless people and advocates tend to put that figure higher; city officials tend to put it lower. 6,000 is a number that most people can agree on.By the most generous estimate, counting all shelter beds, emergency mats on the floor, transitional housing units, the motel vouchers that DSHS provides for homeless families, and the few respite beds for people mildly ill or recovering from surgery — there are 4,000 places provided for homeless people to sleep each night.

Some of the 2,000 remaining people are “squatting” in abandoned buildings. Some live in their cars. On any particular night, some may have found a temporary friend to stay with.

But hundreds of people — including women and children — are sleeping outdoors. Every night.

It is illegal to sleep in parks or on other public land. It is dangerous to sleep on the streets or in alleys.

When people can camp together, they can put together more resources, like Porta-Potties, handwashing stations, food and coffee; support each other; watch out for each other’s safety and possessions. Those who work can safely leave their belongings in camp and know that they will be there when they come back.

We believe Seattle must officially recognize and set standards for the operation of homeless camps until there is enough housing for everyone, and enough shelter for emergency needs.

Look at the numbers in each of these cases–6-10,000 people in each of the three cities. Six to ten thousand, most of them families or couples who’ve been hiding out in the woods or in alleys because there’s no room at the shelters or because shelters can’t take families. That means that in each of the cities the 6-10,000 figure is a number over and above whatever number the shelters hold.

The Seattle experience is an example of how people go through the process of dealing with the homeless they’ve been told don’t exist.

County Executive Ron Sims confessed yesterday that he once had unflattering feelings about the homeless coming to his neighborhood, but overcame them.He is to meet the neighbors of a planned “tent city” of homeless people tonight in Bothell and hopes those who oppose it will get the message he got so many years ago.

It was back when Seattle’s tent city organizers, SHARE/WHEEL, were eying St. Therese Parish in Seattle’s Madrona neighborhood.

“For whatever reason,” Sims said, “I had this secret compartment in my heart that said ‘No, no, no, no, no, not in my neighborhood.’ ”

In time, however, he overcame it, he said, and learned that homeless individuals, like those who have inhabited Seattle’s nomadic tent city encampments ever since, are as harmless as they are homeless.

“I hope, that as a byproduct of our commitment (to help fight homelessness) on a regional basis, people will understand that what we’re talking about are human beings trying to move on with their lives.”

Sims is my new hero. That was a gutsy admission to make in public, and an important one because it validates a normal reaction but encourages people to move beyond it. But his is, unfortunately, not the standard response.

BOTHELL – Tent city moved to St. Brendan’s Church in Bothell Monday, and the controversy moved right along with it.The city says the homeless camp violates city code, so they are suing.

The city wants a hearing to find out if the church broke city law by allowing tent city to move onto their property.

The city may be suing but the citizens’ have reacted differently. From the same article:

All day Monday people stopped by with donations and words of welcome. Tent city residents had neighbors, both old and new, helping them move.7th graders from Bothell’s Lake Side Middle School made tent city their learning experience.

“I think there’s a common stereotype about homeless people, and that’s especially what I learned about by coming here. That stereotype really has no validity,” said Connor Smith, a student.

Smith has been studying the issue of homelessness. He’s learned it has many causes, and that someone needs to earn twice the minimum wage in order to afford basic housing.

Smith has gotten to know the homeless people who are moving to Bothell, and he suggests other people do the same.

“Go volunteer, help, do something. It really helps break stereotypes that I know a lot of people have,” he said.

Another hero–Connor Smith, who actually studied what was going on instead of dismissing it.

The lawsuit stopped the project temporarily but Sims didn’t give up.

A tent city will still open as planned in Bothell on Monday.But the camp, which drew community opposition and a lawsuit, will be on private property at St. Brendan’s Catholic Church and not on the 17 acres of public land that had been the intended site.

At a news conference yesterday, King County Executive Ron Sims said the lawsuit, which called for a delay of at least 14 days so wetlands on the public land could be studied, could have produced an uncertain future for the homeless camp.

Sims said he wanted certainty and worked with the church, which offered its land as an alternative. “I’m not going to have vulnerable people put in a vulnerable position,” he said. “That is wrong.”

For the past few weeks, many Bothell-area residents, including about 200 members of the Brickyard Area Community for Fair Process, have criticized Sims for not giving them adequate notice to study and respond to the tent city plan.

The county transit land, on Northeast 160th Street, is in the Brickyard area.

For those who may have forgotten, the Catholic Church is more than a hiding place for pederasts, it is–or can be–a valuable community resource. (Note that the church is NOT taking govt money and assuming control of the population so they can put them in classes and mix religious instruction with classes on budget management and negotiating with a landlord.)

But the problem is far from solved, the battle far from over. The tent city will only exist for 90 days–what happens after that? And what about long-term solutions? The Seattle housing crunch that caught a lot of these people in its talons isn’t going to disappear in 90 days. The Post Intelligencer gives the King County Council credit for treating the issue seriously.In an editorial, they write:

The King County Council is treating homelessness like the serious public issue it is.With a vote to establish an advisory commission, the council took a big step toward sensible public involvement in how to provide temporary housing. That should provide impetus for a reasoned discussion of tent cities such as the one temporarily providing shelter at a Bothell church.

The council’s ordinance sets up a 22-member Advisory Commission on Homelessness and Encampments, which will issue a report by Aug. 15. County Executive Ron Sims will appoint one person from each of the council’s 13 districts, based on nominations by council members. Other members will include representatives of local governments and community-based groups.

Although their intentions were good, officials failed to provide enough public notice about plans to put the Bothell Tent City 4 encampment on county-owned land. Weighting membership toward citizen representation should provide a fresh look at whether county government or private organizations should provide space for a suburban tent city and the value of such encampments, which we believe is large. Most tent residents have jobs but need a chance to transition back to regular housing.

The new commission puts the public back at the center of seeking solutions. Broadening the discussion offers hope of better strategies for addressing homelessness. And hope is something the commission must strengthen among those who have no homes.

Why does it take so much pressure and brouhaha to get govts–local, state, and…well, forget the Federals; the Pubs are cutting the housing programs–to take the homelessness problem ‘seriously’?