Homelessness: the root cause? - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, August 20, 2019
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This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Kenneth L Wells 3 weeks, 1 day ago.

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  • #42633 Reply

    Ric Davidge

    There are a number of root or base causes for homelessness and why the MOA has not solved this problem, now for over 20 years. First it is critical to understand that we have about 40 legal entities and 11 government agencies all involved in some way with ‘ending homelessness’ and they have been ‘trying’ for two decades. Look around you, not much success. One of the key discoveries here, in San Francisco, Seattle, LA, San Diego, etc is that there is NO economic incentive for any of these organizations to solve the problem. Their funding is directly connected to the problem continuing. We have a homeless industrial complex.
    The other common denominator here is the growth of lawlessness due to the interference by politicos on law enforcement. We know this is the case in every one of these cities, including Anchorage. If a politico tells the police not to enforce these laws, why have them? The most obvious is the law on soliciting in the Municipal ROW. Camping on public land without a permit. etc.
    In Anchorage we also have what I call cultural disabilities. No, this is NOT about race. It is about where people are born and how they are raised. If they were not raised in a western 9-5 work culture, no wonder they don’t know how to survive in Anchorage. The State has addressed this in the past, but then stopped. We must teach 11th and 12th grad kids in the remote areas of Alaska how to responsibly function in a western 9-5 work culture.
    As for jobs, not more money. This is what we did in the development of the VetVillageAK proposal we were asked to do by the state legislature. We have signed commitments from local employers for 150 jobs. We only plan to have about 80 tenants. Ask for jobs, not a bigger bag of money.
    “Who you like to go home?” This is the most cost effective way to quickly reduce the number of homeless on the streets and in the woods of Anchorage. If you ask, nicely, a homeless person on the street where they are from and why are they in Anchorage you often find that in Oct they took their PFD and came to the big city that they saw on TV. Now they are stuck. 90% of the time when ask if they would like to go home they say yes. The MOA should negotiate a package of one way tickets that are given at the airport with their name on it so it can’t be sold, and they leave. The MOA should also reach out the Alaska Native Corps and ask it they will help ‘their shareholders’ go home. This is the most cost effective way to seriously reduce homelessness in Anchorage.
    We have soooo much more to say, but let’s talk about this ideas first.

    #42663 Reply
    Kobe Rizk
    Kobe Rizk

    Ric, to what degree do you think the PFD, as you brought up, is a factor in this problem? For many, it provides a quick rush of money that is often spent on things like a week at the Dimond Hotel or fancy dinners for a while. Then, the money is gone and hasn’t really contributed to solving the problem for many of these people. Should there be some sort of stipulation that PFD’s are used for some purpose, at least for those who don’t even have a bed to sleep in? Maybe not, just an idea and I am curious at hearing what you think.

    #44552 Reply

    Sean P. Ryan

    To Ric, I still haven’t heard back from you about your proposal (I’ve been plenty busy myself) and the reasons behind it, but it sounds much like the recent ASD-LYSD partnership which resulted in the conversion of the Long House Hotel into a dorm for these visiting students. Do you have any thoughts about that project and whether it could be replicated in some other form, such as for adults needing skills training?

    To Kobe, one story I’ve heard over and over concerns AST or DOC transferring people facing criminal charges or who have been convicted and serving sentences to other parts of Alaska and then telling them when they’re released from custody that it’s their responsibility to figure out how to get home. In the course of volunteer work I’ve been doing this year with the homeless, I’ve also heard many stories from people who wish to return to the Lower 48 about facing barriers to obtaining identification so they can get on a plane. Obviously, we don’t live in a place where Greyhound buses abound.

    #44779 Reply

    Kenneth L Wells

    There is no single root cause of homelessness. The causes vary from individual to individual although there can be overarching similarities between groups of individuals. Put simply, the problem is too complex for a single solution and government programs and private charities are too ham fisted or misguided (or both) to be of any use except for the lining of the pockets of various bureaucracies tasked with implementing the ‘solutions’ which generally do not work.

    Homelessness is a huge problem that cannot be fixed. However, it can be made slightly less huge by attempting to tackle a smaller problem. A cruise down 3rd avenue will reveal to all but the most ideologically possessed social justice warriors that Native Alaskans compose part of the homeless population in Anchorage. This is a fact and to borrow from somebody famous, facts do not care about your feelings. Nor are facts racist.

    I am personally acquainted with quite a few homeless Native Alaskans. Generally speaking, they share some common characteristics; addiction to alcohol, mental illness, low IQ’s or psychological trauma. Obviously, no one individual is afflicted by all of these simultaneously but sometimes they are.

    Many decades ago, this country had psychiatric institutions. We all should be familiar with the horror stories but, in a nutshell, things were so bad that psychiatric institutions were shut down, their wards set free. What isn’t talked about much, near as I can tell, is why the institutions went so terribly wrong. The reason is, isolation. The institutions were isolated and where ever groups of like minded people are isolated, weirdness sets in and that is exactly what happened. This was demonstrated in the institutions and it was also demonstrated, famously, in the Stanford Prison Experiment.

    The institutions were abolished but the reason(s) for their existence in the first place, remain. Such people roam around at large until they wander off and die in the woods, or get exploited by some human predator, or get addicted to drugs/alcohol, or become such a nuisance they end up in prison, or they get killed.

    A large component of the prison populations in every state is composed of people who should have been in psychiatric institutions long before they descended into the criminal justice system.

    We have, in Anchorage, a hospital entirely devoted to serving Native Alaskans. We have very large corporations tasked with looking after Native Peoples, promoting their welfare and, presumably, well-being.

    It seems to me that a psychiatric institution should be built, attached to the Alaska Native Hospital. Staffing of that institution should be rotated annually or semi-annually from the Native Hospital. Volunteers should be encouraged to work in the institution as well. Whatever is necessary to avoid the isolation and subsequent crimes against humanity that occurred in the previous manifestation of psychiatric institutions.

    This will not solve the homeless problem in Anchorage. It will, however, make it somewhat smaller and as they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

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