I am inspired by my dear friend Harena, (thanks for joining my lowly blog to keep me company), to write on another issue that is at the forefront of Tiny Houses. I follow a blog by Deek on alternative dwellings that has caught my fancy, (found here: http://relaxshacks.blogspot.com/). His shelters are a to be used at times when there is a need for emergency shelter, and also a great tool to protect people during times of political unrest and the like. But there are others who are specifically trying to accommodate the needs of people who find themselves homeless, (see here: http://tinyhouseblog.com/tiny-house-concept/hans-mobile-shelters-and-designs/). At the risk of sounding like I am trying to beat up on folks who are altruistically thinking of helping others, there is a difference between HOUSE-LESS and HOMELESS. Some of these well intended guys are trying to make things that could be pushed and house stuff, (like I saw a coffee maker in one) that will be supposedly owned by the said Homeless. Every time I see one of those without any security features, I think of how a nice red target painted on the side could be equally effective. For while the sentiment is admirable and there could be instances where such devices are helpful, (a hidden base camp, maybe?), HAVING one and KEEPING one are two different things.
Don’t think for a moment that all homeless people have no cash and could not make a contraption if they want to, and some do. Florida has more homeless than everywhere, and I am glad because they can easily survive the winter. I think it is a crime where businesses do not regularly have hot water in public restrooms to prevent homeless from bathing in their sinks. I think it is awful that some cities shoo the people camping in buses and tents away every two hours. And think about this: many of these homeless are mentally ill people who were turned out of their wards in the 80’s. The idea was to “mainstream” them. They were mainstreamed alright, right out the door into the street!
Consider the state of California. In the 90’s California had already had a money crisis. But it would not take a brilliant scientist to figure out why. The lucrative money given to AFDC recipients and homeless people, again, well intended enough, did not work exactly as planned. I know. I was there.
I could not resist thinking of the “Grapes of Wrath” and how the tenement farmers, (or what ever they were called), were “tractored” off the land and they streamed to California for jobs. Only this current stream was to get on “kook money” as it was called on the street and word was, it was the best money out there, save New York. For starters, you got it TWICE a month instead of once. And on the first and the 14th, every single mom in the state became a target partiers who tried to romance you and leave after the money intended for the kids was partied up. Guys came up to you from everywhere trying to hook up right before the 1st and the 14th. Luckily I figured it out by watching what was going on around me because there is a difference between “house-less” and “homeless,” remember.
But the REAL money was available every 18 months. You could apply for this form of cash assistance to END homelessness. Something like $2500 was available for “first, last, and deposit” on an apartment. More often than not, folks would get the money, party it down and then re-apply a year and a half later, only to do it all over again.
So the issue is NOT that these have no house. The issue is they need skills and services to KEEP a house. I see that there is a real possibility for Tiny Houses to bridge the gap. I also see that the attempt to help this population could fail if not gone about in a way that meets the real needs of the individual so that we not only GIVE him a way out, we help him KEEP it!