If we didn’t have a “homelessness problem,” the left would have to invent one. Which is what they’re now doing here in my town of Aspen.
The local lefties, which is to say nearly the whole town, have decided to throw more taxpayer money at ending the homelessness epidemic here.
“Epidemic” is of course a relative term. Anecdotal and observational evidence suggests that this very, very rich town of 6,500 people holds exactly one homeless person. Everyone calls him “The Homeless Guy.”
The Homeless Guy doesn’t sleep outside. It gets a tad chilly here in the winter for that. He instead has a home away from homelessness. The Catholic church downtown apparently puts him up.
The church says he’s not alone. They say there are 22 altogether, though they’re apparently never all together. I live in downtown Aspen and I haven’t seen them.
The lefties have rejected even that generous total of 22 as “extremely low.” They insist that there are many more.
We don’t know how the lefties know there are many more, but we know why. It’s because many more is what they want. They want there to be enough to justify – nay, to necessitate – a program. Make that a BIG PROGRAM.
I admit to being a little jaded about this. I once played at homelessness and panhandling to get a feel for it. It’s not easy.
I learned a few things in talking with many of the people and providers in shelters. According to the providers, giving these people cash on the street corners exacerbates their problem by enabling them to stay there and stay impaired.
You see, many of these people have substance addictions. Many others are emotionally or mentally disturbed. Sadly, most are on the streets because that’s where they want to be – or so they think anyway.
That’s consistent with the presence of The Homeless Guy here in Aspen, where real estate prices are about the highest on the planet. A studio apartment runs 7-figures. If he were truly homeless and wanted not to be, wouldn’t he move to a regular town where he’d might afford a regular place to live?
Even the long-time director of the existing program in Aspen is wary of throwing more money at this. “You might get people gravitating to Aspen because of free housing … to snowboard, smoke dope and chase girls which is what I’ve had people tell me they are doing.”
Indeed, big cities like Seattle and San Francisco have witnessed what happens when you give free stuff to vagrants. You get more vagrants.
Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe that we should not let anyone starve or freeze. America is a rich country. We should feed and shelter everyone regardless of how they got into their situation, and I’ll do it at my place if necessary.
These aren’t freeloaders in the ordinary sense. They’re people with serious problems. They should be offered treatment for their problems.
But beyond that, only a fool thinks their problems would be go away if just we gave them a house to destroy.
So why does the left want to do that when even the dedicated director of the existing program thinks it might make the problem worse?
It’s because “addressing homelessness” is one of many ways that the left obtains its daily dose of feel-good. It enables them to tell the world and themselves that they’re caring and compassionate people even if, or maybe especially if, they’re using other people’s money.
They’re not out to actually fix anything. For the left, problems are not to be solved – that’s for nerdy and unwoke STEM majors – but to be milked.
If their programs draw more vagrants to town and perpetuates their suffering, that’s all the better. The left is happy to pay for their own feelings of moral superiority in the coinage of other people’s suffering.
“Addressing homelessness” is therefore one of the left’s many feel-good, virtue-signaling, America-bashing hobbies.
If we didn’t have a “homelessness problem” (and I can remember when we didn’t, in economies far less prosperous than the current one) then the left would have to manufacture one in order to feel good about themselves. Here in Aspen and elsewhere, they’re doing precisely that.
The victims of their vainglorious propaganda are the rest of us – including the vagrants themselves.
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It’s not easy. Period.
It ain’t supposed to be.
Happy to hear that you failed at homelessness.
Something the Left never fails to recognize:
If you have to signal your virtue, you don’t have any
Give “the homeless guy” a one way ticket to Clifton or anywhere else where he can get a job, counseling if necessary, find affordable housing and take responsibility for his own life.
I’m sure Paonia folks would put him/them up.
I have never been to Aspen, maybe this summer. Have Son who lives and works in Denver and he as a real cool 3 real log cabin near Winter Park, so we spend our time there and rafting, or in Leadville at the 10th cabins. Looked at Google maps and “went” down town. What is the main road for Downtown? Funny to see shops called “Free People”, one could have fun at that store.
the free people store where i live ( nj ) is part of a chain and has very nice clothing. they market under their own label.
Great column, Glenn. Delta County is working on a camping ban at the fairgrounds because of damages done. Paonia is looking to supply subsidized housing for “creatives.” So, if this homeless guy can create sculpture out of belly button lint, he might qualify for some of that.
I remember homelessness as being a huge issue when Reagan was President then GHW Bush but disappearing when Clinton became President (though the problem didn’t diminish) now it appears that the Lefties just want to perpetuate the problem as a Social Fabric assault of some kind. It literally exploded after the ACLU was able to get SCOTUS to agree that vagrancy laws were unconstitutional sometime back when the Court was very Left. As a general rule Liberals don’t give much to Charity (see Bernies diatribe on the subject) viewing all Charities as unnecessary as the State should be providing everything including beach condos to everyone who needs it. As for Aspen I remember back I think in the nineties when visiting I saw a story on a local effort to provide needy local children with golf clubs which I surmised was a worthy cause all things considered.
Somewhere between 1 and 22 of them eh? I’ll bet most every lefty in Aspen has a spare bedroom. Why don’t they just each take in one bum? Problem solved. Now on to global warming or cooling or climate change or whatever they are calling it this week.
Glenn, this article, “Lefty feel gooders conjure up homelessness in Aspen,” is very well done, expressing the underlying lib/lefty/”progressive”/subjectivist/moral relativist/secularist/humanist philosophy, “if it feels good, do it,” but no solution other than throwing the taxes paid by red-blooded Americans–DOG WHISTLE–, that is hard-working Americans–DOG WHISTLE, at the one to 22 homeless in Aspen.
KEEP UP THE GREAT, THE VERY GREAT, WORK!!!
LOL. That’s all I can say. LOL.
I have sympathy for people who are “homeless,” but also recognize the legitimate interest of the majority of people who — through a combination of good fortune and honest work — reasonably expect government to prevent public and private properties from being occupied and trashed by anybody.
As with most social problems, the solution involves a carrot and stick approach. The “carrot” is for government (particularly at the federal level, since this is a national problem) is to provide “camps” with a basic level of shelter, warmth, sanitary facilities, police protection, and opportunities for paid low-skilled work, as an alternative to illegal “camping.” The “stick,” then, is that those who continue to “camp” illegally can be arrested and assigned by the legal system to levels of institutionalization that are most appropriate for them and society overall. (The “camps” should, of course, include communal dining areas where the “lefty feel-gooders” can boost their credentials for being “socially concerned,” a.k.a., “woke,” by showing up every Thanksgiving to dispense hot meals to the benighted residents.)
The federal “work’ programs of the 1930s should be a model. Those such as the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration put unemployed people to work, under spartan but decent conditions, at building public facilities of lasting value to the public, as opposed to trashing public lands and facilities.
Of course, the people (almost entirely, young men) employed in those programs generally needed the work because of the national Depression rather than serial personal misfortunes or mental disabilities, as is more common today. BUT the majority of today’s homeless people, who have demonstrated that they are capable of surviving under extremely stressful conditions, are capable of performing useful low-skilled work, given the proper incentives. And for many, the “gift” of a basic “home” and a basic job (courtesy of those of us middle and upper income people who pay most taxes) would provide the opportunity to earn a decent standard of living without the need for continuing government assistance.
Ted, your comment makes perfect sense to you and me. But these people are not like you and me. Their problem is not a lack of work or patch of bad luck. They’re nothing like the Depression Era homeless people.
What I’ve seen, and what data suggests, is that these people are on the street because that’s where they want to be. They’re on the margins of society because they reject society.
That means this problem is difficult to solve. But what WON’T solve it, I think we can agree, is simply giving them a house.
I don’t claim to be an expert on homeless people, but I recognize that they are not all alike in terms of their sanity, aggressiveness towards other people, and willingness and ability to work. That is why I support a multi-pronged approach of giving them the chance to have a safe, sanitary place to stay, with some level of work requirement. That could involve public work in, for example, landscaping public facilities, or private work in, for example, harvesting crops or handling goods in a warehouse (for market wages supplemented by the earned income tax credit and other benefits targeted to low income people).
The individuals who don’t accept that and continue to illegally occupy and trash public and private property can then reasonably be arrested and subjected to involuntary measures to confine them in mental institutions and minimum security prisons, and (hopefully) rehabilitate them to a degree that they can be given another chance to function as normal members of society. (But I would require them to demonstrate their rehabilitation for some years before allowing them to vote or own guns, and also would not expect prospective employers to pay them anything like $15 per hour until they have a chance to demonstrate that their services are worth that much.)
Dr Beaton, Side Research: You should checkout what your fellow Centennial Staters are doing. In Pueblo, they are getting “overrun” as well (add here all the normal related issues) and then add in marijuana. Now, you get the government arguing about the impact of two problems they created AND over how they are related. I foresee endless task forces, commissions, studies, etc. Us STEM guys don’t know how to build a perpetual motion machine, but we can recognize them. Here in the Springs, they are all downtown camping along the part time “river”, which, when flowing keeps the smell down. We used to have Beaton-esque radio guy who would have people report sitings and offer them jobs, etc. with no takers. Then there was the odd alliance between the Alphabets and the churches which overall helped without the government. Now, as the government is “revitalizing” downtown (arenas, stadiums, converted buildings, etc.), we have a “heartless” Guliani-esque Mayor who sends out the police to prevent them from being trouble. So far, I like the keep the government out of it option.
So glad to have discovered your blog (referred by Power Line’s Favorites List). Thanks for this informative piece that doesn’t hold back on presenting the stark ironies of the situation. While I don’t mean to take homelessness lightly, I smiled all the way through reading this and got a couple of good belly laughs as well. Spot on about the lefties milking etc., I think (hope/pray) that they are on the way out of favor.
A number of smart replies here. First, with record low unemployment across all demographics, and assistance available from multiple sources to those who want it, we should call the remaining folks what they truly are; vagrants.
The truest “homeless” beggar sign I ever saw was in dopey Los Angeles, which said “I don’t want your money to fix me, I want your money for my next fix” I may still have the photo. You are not “homeless” if you choose to be, you are a vagrant. If you are now mentally ill because you destroyed your brain cells with drugs & alcohol, that is the result of your choices. Your life only has value if you value your life.
The Left doesn’t want to solve the problem. They want to feel better about themselves and use it as a tool to tear down anyone who wants to solve the problem. They still don’t understand that you cannot help anyone who doesn’t want to be helped. There is plenty of assistance available to those who do, the least effective assistance by government.
My late wife & I have taken in truly homeless people and helped them. I challenge any Lefty to do the same.
Had to laugh at The Aspen Daily News front-page story today on all this, referring to what a community leader touted as a “humanist” solution to the problem, believing apparently that “humanist” means the same thing as “humane” or “humanitarian,” when in fact it means “godless” — devoid of any orientation toward a higher spiritual power. These people are clueless about the supernatural dimension of our existence, which is why they keep throwing housing at people who really need an exorcist.
Harsh, but fair. Of all their problems, the lack of a house is only about 3rd or 4th on the list for these people. Unless the bigger problems they have are solved, which will require effort and discipline on their part, the house we give them will last only till they destroy it in their anger and hate at Society
To the Writer: Come and meet the homeless of Aspen. The majority of us are at the encampment located at the Intersept Lot (Brush Creek Park and Ride). We are living in tents and vehicles in a make shift camp in a parking lot where there is no real shelter. We bake in the sun in summer and those who can’t get into the Homeless Shelter because they stood up for their rights against Dr. Vince Savage (Homeless Shelter Director). Those who question his authority are permanentlty banned from the Night Shelter and do sleep in the freezing cold or risk private property which often results in tresspassing and other charges criminalizing the homeless.
Vince Thomas, Homeless Army Vet