An end to homelessnes in our time

An end to homelessnes in our time

All hail, the Savior, Deval! That’s right, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has a $10 million plan to end homelessness. How will this happen, you ask? Details, details! Why, he’s spending $10 million, that’s how.

I’m only partially kidding. The truth is decidedly less humorous.

Gov. Deval Patrick is set to unveil a major new $10 million push to virtually eliminate homelessness in Massachusetts in the next five years.

Yes, but how will this $10 million do what 40 years of the so-called “War on Poverty” and several trillion dollars in welfare spending have to do?

The goal of the initiative is to come up with better ways to detect when individuals and families are on the verge of falling into homelessness - and move in swiftly with aid and support.

In other words, they don’t actually have a plan yet. The $10 million will be spent on coming up with a plan. Because, you know, it’s so difficult to tell when someone’s about to fall into homelessness.

Another goal is to quickly move those already homeless into permanent housing, including an increased use of housing vouchers.

Which does nothing to attack the root cause of homelessness. So you give people vouchers to move into permanent housing. After the voucher is used up, how will they pay for the next month’s rent and the month after that? But this sort of plan isn’t really about ending homelessness, is it?

As a down payment on the plan, Patrick’s proposed state budget will include $1.75 million for MassHousing and $8.25 million for the state Department of Housing and Urban Development, an administration source told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity ahead of the formal release of the budget on Wednesday.

Ah, there’s the crux of the plan. In reality it’s a thin tissue of a scheme to “end” homelessness covering the real goal which is to shovel ever more millions of dollars into the hands of political cronies and appear to his liberal base to be “doing” something about the problem by expanding government.

“At the root of most homelessness issues in most instances is a lack of affordable housing,” he added. “How do we do a better job of detecting when families or individuals are at risk? How do we assess that?”

At the root of most homelessness is an inability to pay for housing. Gee, thanks. How many millions did we spend on that in-depth study? Of course, not all homelessness falls into such a category. More than a few of the homeless are the mentally ill or the hopelessly addicted, people who refuse to pull themselves out of the gutter in despair or cussedness or a lack of will.

The flaw in Deval’s vision—and that of so many liberals and even some conservatives—is a failure to appreciate that giant bureaucracies are incapable of addressing root causes for individuals. At best they deal with the large swath of symptoms related to the “disease” without effecting a cure.

The best way to deal with such social problems is the way Christians have done it for millennia: one by one, bringing charity and the love of Christ to each individual. Unless families, friends, neighbors, and local parishes get involved in the lives of the people who are afflicted, the problem will continue in perpetuity. Even then, Christ promised that we would always have the poor.

But today we have the Messiah of the Big Government to save us from every ill that might befall us, taxing us in into poverty so that bureaucracies can be erected to treat out poverty in a never-ending circle of misery. Deliver us, Lord!

  • I understand exactly how they will work this plan of ‘getting rid of homelessness in MA for the low, low price of just 10 million dollars.

    They’re going to use that to bus all the homeless to New Hampshire.

  • Well, local zoning rules (and we NIMBYs that enforce them through agitation) that make SROs virtually impossible in many communities don’t help. Effective private charity is readily hindered in a variety of ways (there are places in Boston like Caritas Communities and the Paul Sullivan Housing Trust, but too few – as a treasurer of my parish St Vincent de Paul, you get to know these things). On the other hand, Massachusetts’ fairly rigorous process for evictions help stave off homelessness of a kind that readily occurs in some other states (and also lends itself to abuse, no doubt).

    One basic problem is that there is no Solomonic way to divine a policy that can reconcile individual freedom with an imperfect understanding of mental illness and addictions (not always voluntary) that compromise it – then put this into a justice system where misuse of the law is not exactly uncommon. Poor laws and workhouses represented one approach; letting people fend for themselves on the streets another. Neither is good. But there is no perfect middle yet found.

  • What it sounds like is to find a way to parallel what is being done increasingly with elder care – to find ways to keep people where they are before so that the higher long-term institutional costs are forced.

    Not a bad idea. But it would only target those not yet homeless. So an incomplete idea. No silver bullet.