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Source: (consider it) Thread: The homeless. Something should be done!
cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Has anyone done an objective study that would prove to a city council that they would save money by running managed shelter? Any city itself?

I don't think the housing first research supports that. Shelters alone seem to simply perpetuate the status quo. You don't have people dying on the street as you do without them, but you aren't moving people out of homelessness either. What works and eventually should save money (but we're talking very long term) is the housing first model with a continuum of care. Shelters like the one I help run are the stop but very temporary, in a process leading to permanent housing with appropriate supportive services

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by teddybear:
I work with large numbers of homeless and have for about 25 years. Although many do not want to admit it, there are many who will always be homeless, no matter what is done for them. Often it is related to just an inability to manage their funds, the inability to follow the rules in homeless shelters or other living situations. There are also many who prefer being on their own, even it means they are on the streets.

This is certainly true. In out area the homeless tend to fall into two groups: those who live in the city and have lots of interaction (most of it negative, but some charitable or friendly) and those who live up n the hills/mountains very isolated. In prior times we would have called them "hermits". The latter group in particular are not interested in dense housing

I cringe when this is brought up though. It is so often used as an excuse (not by you, but others) to do nothing. As if the fact that some small percentage of homeless enjoy their lifestyle is a reason to do nothing fit the 1000s who are not

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Martin60
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I should have said accommodation perhaps, cliffdweller, I was using shelter in its broadest sense. I intuitively believe the claim that the bottom line cost to society is lower if everyone who needs it is in appropriate social accommodation, but where are the figures? Not just budgeted, projected, but actual, historical, savings and costs?

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balaam

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quote:
Originally posted by Helen-Eva:
...part of my brain says "the Bible says you should give to beggars" and part of my brain says "charities say handing out cash isn't the right thing to do"

So - what to do...???

Aaaargh

I think the chrities may be their own worst enemies here.

Some of the 'advice' given is pretty nasty, blaming those who give for sustaining the problem, which may be true, but among those who toss a few small coins to appease their conscience are those who care and want to do something to help. To give advice that will alienate those who would help is an own goal.

Instead of telling people off for what they do wrong, why can't we educate people on the right thing to do?

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Martin60
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Giving acknowledgement, a verbal blessing, an apology, sympathy is minimal. And often all you can do and more than enough. Don't go with money in your pocket. You'll end up with none or feel like a bastard if you have any left.

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Giving acknowledgement, a verbal blessing, an apology, sympathy is minimal. And often all you can do and more than enough. Don't go with money in your pocket. You'll end up with none or feel like a bastard if you have any left.

I agree that training yourself to look away is not helpful-- it hardens our hearts and nurtures apathy. Doing something is better than doing nothing

It's helpful if you can provide what they are asking for directly-- i.e. Buy them a sandwich or give them a bagged lunch you brought from home. Warm, dry socks are the most requested item in the shelter-- easy to pop a few pairs in your bag to give out rather than cash. You can also carry gift cards for fast food restaurants

We also may be a bit too precious/controlling about where our $$ is spent. Alcohol and weed can be forms of self medicating for those dealing with mental illness or just the misery of life that on the street. Are we really much better?

Story has it that CS Lewis was once out with friends, and gave a few $$ to a beggar. Lewis' friend rebuked him, saying, "he'll just spend it on booze". Lewis replied, "that's all I was going to do with it"

[ 26. December 2017, 12:20: Message edited by: cliffdweller ]

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Martin60
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Hmmm. Deep pockets full of socks to be bountiful with. But they'd lose them, swap them for fags, sell them at 10%; they only ever want things when they want them. They can't keep anything. And it's, er, patronizing, saying that I don't trust you to spend my money appropriately. As ever Jack was spot on.

[ 26. December 2017, 12:24: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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alienfromzog

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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
Story has it that CS Lewis was once out with friends, and gave a few $$ to a beggar. Lewis' friend rebuked him, saying, "he'll just spend it on booze". Lewis replied, "that's all I was going to do with it"

Yep, I'm with Lewis here. (As so often).

Until October I worked in Birmingham and on my walk from New Street to work I passed several homesless people on the streets. I talked to quite a few and learned their names. I have given money quite often.

For me, it's really patronising to say 'they'll only spend it on booze' - it's not for me to judge. But yeah, it is a complex thing and I understand the arguments for not giving cash but mostly I think the key here is that it's so each to harden one's heart and just walk on by and that is clearly not the Christ-like thing...

AFZ

[ 26. December 2017, 15:18: Message edited by: alienfromzog ]

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Boogie

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I don’t give cash, I offer to buy a sandwich and hot drink. I also carry new socks to give to them - portable in a pocket and much needed/appreciated in this horrible wet weather.

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Nicolemr
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And the thing about the homeless spending money on booze/drugs is this... if they are addicted physically, they need that substance to keep from going into withdrawal. Withdrawal is a pretty rough thing without medical help. It can kill.

So realistically, they may need that substance as much as they need anything else.

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Martin60
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When we take our guys away and chuck 'em off disused railway viaducts and walk up rivers and stuff, I'm the beer monitor. And this is run by charismatic evangelicals.

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Doublethink.
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I don't know if you remember this case:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/828565.stm

A huge problem in ending rough sleeping, regardless of other forms of homelessness, is the lack of places for people who are continuing to use/drink.

There's no point in providing a place if your going to chuck people out for breach of tenancy five seconds later. Oh and could they kindly give up their pet at the same time they are magically curing their own addiction in 5 seconds flat.

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink.:

A huge problem in ending rough sleeping, regardless of other forms of homelessness, is the lack of places for people who are continuing to use/drink.

In the article that you quote, the shelter managers were said to be turning a blind eye to dealing rather than using. Now, "dealing" covers a fairly wide swath of ground, but it strikes me that there is something of a difference between a homeless person in a shelter using drugs and a homeless person in a shelter pushing drugs to the other residents.
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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:

I cringe when this is brought up though. It is so often used as an excuse (not by you, but others) to do nothing. As if the fact that some small percentage of homeless enjoy their lifestyle is a reason to do nothing fit the 1000s who are not

Yes, and as you point the causation often runs the opposite way - in that a stay on the streets can make it harder for people to integrate back into a normal lifestyle purely because of whatever they've gone through.

There is also a strong correlation between those who make these excuses and those who vote in governments who preside over rises in homelessness
[Mad]

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RuthW

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There will be homeless people until and unless there is structural change, and that won't happen unless our values as a society change. As it is, we have an economic and social system which regularly forces people out of housing. We look at the many apparent causes -- someone loses their job in a recession and never gets back on their face, someone is mentally ill, someone is alcohol- or drug-dependent, etc -- and despite the fact that one addresses these different causes in different ways, in the end these people all became homeless for the same reason: they don't have the money to pay for housing. We can and should address the various issues that cause people not to have money for housing, but fundamentally what needs to change is our notion that housing is something people deserve if they can pay for it. As long as we say people don't get to be housed if they can't pay for it, we will continue to have a system that creates homeless people.
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Boogie

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People are housed in the U.K. if they can’t pay. But this doesn’t prevent homelessness.

UK housing benefit eligibility

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Curiosity killed ...

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In the UK many private landlords will not house tenants on housing benefit and there are long waiting lists for social housing should the homeless person qualify, meaning many people end up in temporary accommodation for some time before being housed. Such temporary accommodation is not usually known for its salubrious conditions.

To qualify for a permanent tenancy a homeless person or family may have to spend years in temporary accommodation.

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RuthW

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I wonder how long it takes to negotiate the bureaucracy administering the housing benefit. If someone is living paycheck to paycheck and loses their job on the 10th of the month, will they be able to get housing benefit in time to pay rent on the 1st? Will it cover their rent?

Also, you have to have a place to live and be paying rent already to be eligible to get the housing benefit. I clicked through that link, Boogie, and then through a bunch of other links, to get to a calculator to see what they ask when determining eligibility. The options under current housing status are "private tenant, social tenant, owner - mortgaged, owner - no mortgage, shared ownership, living with parents, tenant not liable to pay rent, and other." I selected "other" and got this:
quote:
To qualify for Housing Benefit you must have a legal duty to pay rent to a landlord under a commercial arrangement, for the accommodation you live in. To qualify for Council Tax support you must have a legal duty to pay the Council Tax bill.

If you are paying money towards 'housing costs' on an informal basis you will not be able to get Housing Benefit or Council Tax support so the 'Your Home' section of this calculator will be missed out.

You get similar messages if you check "living with parents" or "tenant not liable to pay rent." So if you can't pay your rent and you move in with your parents or start couch-surfing with friends, it looks like you can't get housing benefit. The next question under "housing status" is "What is your postcode?" It appears that if you have nowhere to live, you are not eligible for any housing benefit.

If we truly believed that everyone deserves to sleep indoors, we would have provisions for making that happen. We don't.

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cliffdweller
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Now imagine navigating all that without access to a computer. Some of our insufferable pols here in the U.S. even begrudge the poor owning even a smart phone, even though as you've just demonstrated access to public services is heavily dependent on that sort of technology

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Golden Key
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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
It's helpful if you can provide what they are asking for directly-- i.e. Buy them a sandwich or give them a bagged lunch you brought from home. Warm, dry socks are the most requested item in the shelter-- easy to pop a few pairs in your bag to give out rather than cash. You can also carry gift cards for fast food restaurants.

Good suggestions. Small things like cheap stocking caps and gloves are good, too. Even cheap ones should raise their body temperature a few degrees, and that may help keep them from illness or even death. I do give them spare change--I generally limit it to a dollar, due to my own finances. Sometimes, it's just a quarter. I've also given food and material items. Sometimes, I'll leave a bag of stuff by someone who's sleeping; but not get too close, in case I startle them and they're defensive. I avoid ones I know to be frequently angry. God knows they've got reason to be furious--but putting myself in a situation where I could be their victim isn't good for anybody.

Note: fast-food gift cards can sometimes be a bit complicated, if the person stinks or is extremely disheveled. Fast-food places aren't always happy about obvious homeless folks coming in. Doesn't mean you shouldn't give cards, but be aware.

Plus many homeless people in California were turned out of psych facilities, ostensibly to give them better lives in the community. But AIUI they didn't necessarily have someone supervising them. They had to go to a central place to get their meds. If they missed that, then they were off meds and too sick to do anything about it or even realize it. So, besides people who developed mental illness from the trauma of homelessness, there are lots of people who were *known* to have severe mental illness, and fell through the Grand Canyon-sized cracks in the system. I ate at a soup kitchen a couple of times, when I was in danger of homelessness; and I met one or two people who were doing well to realize they needed food, let alone find a place where they could get it, and for free.

quote:
We also may be a bit too precious/controlling about where our $$ is spent. Alcohol and weed can be forms of self medicating for those dealing with mental illness or just the misery of life that on the street. Are we really much better?
No, we aren't. I think we desperately need to believe that *we* can't become homeless, so we demonize them. Anyone can become homeless--particularly if they don't have anyone who can and will take them in.

I wonder if the massive opioid epidemic is changing attitudes? Surely, some affected wind up homeless.

quote:
Story has it that CS Lewis was once out with friends, and gave a few $$ to a beggar. Lewis' friend rebuked him, saying, "he'll just spend it on booze". Lewis replied, "that's all I was going to do with it"
Good story. Add to that one about Einstein. People used to go to him and ask for money. (Don't know if any were homeless.) People criticized him as being a soft touch. He said he'd rather give money to someone who didn't need it, than not give to someone who did.

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Martin60
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It's impossible to get a clear picture of what's going on, the ambiguities of language and figures being what they are, but this would indicate that at the moment there are 160,000 homeless 'households', say 200-250,000 people. 10% of these are rough sleepers one way or another (9,100 really rough and 9,100 'hidden' rough, both to extremely dubious two significant figures, things will all be smooth in 10 years, according to the government, regardless of turnover, churn). The large (internally dynamic, churning) number includes families in B&Bs.

The government are spending a billion 'to 2020'. That's over four years. £250m a year. About a grand a year per person. 5% of what it costs.

5%

[ 30. December 2017, 14:59: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Uriel
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quote:
Originally posted by wild haggis:
Until politicians get out into the real world the situation won't change. I would love to see Teresa May and the rest of the Cabinet on Christmas Eve, helping in Night Shelters and soup runs and talking to people on the streets. But no, they sit in their nice expensive houses (usually more than one)sipping expensive wine and opening presents, ignoring the real world outside their posh doors.


This may be true of the current government, but not the former, at least not all of them. A friend in London was helping in a soup kitchen and talking to the chap who was doing the washing up. She asked what he did, and he said he worked for the government. She queried whether he was a civil servant, and he replied he was an MP and government minister. The chap in question gave an evening a week to help in the soup kitchen, alongside Parliamentary commitments, although could not attend as regularly when he became a Cabinet Minister a few years later. He didn't publicise his charity work, just quietly got on with it.

I always remember that when I hear "they're all as bad as each other".

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Helen-Eva
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quote:
Originally posted by Uriel:
A friend in London was helping in a soup kitchen and talking to the chap who was doing the washing up. She asked what he did, and he said he worked for the government. She queried whether he was a civil servant, and he replied he was an MP and government minister. The chap in question gave an evening a week to help in the soup kitchen, alongside Parliamentary commitments, although could not attend as regularly when he became a Cabinet Minister a few years later. He didn't publicise his charity work, just quietly got on with it.

I always remember that when I hear "they're all as bad as each other".

How wonderful. That should be better known. I suppose if it did become well known though, the person in question would be very embarrassed because he obviously wanted to do his good works in private. I wonder if other MPs do likewise even now.

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Ohher
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Can't answer that question, but here's a telling experience:

My church and its sister congregation set up a very bare-bones cold weather shelter program about 15 years ago. 100% volunteer-run, though there were costs to the congregations -- air mattresses, cots, blankets & linens, extra heating/lighting bills, etc.

Winter deaths from exposure dropped some.

The plan was to apply pressure on city government to Do Something, so that our two small churches could get out of the shelter business, for which we were less-than-ideally-equipped (though by the end we also had boatloads of extra-congregational volunteer help, and some donations & small grants to help defray, though never cover, extra costs).

So what happened?

OUTCOME 1: After 10 years, the city council released a "plan" which describes the local homeless situation in the vaguest possible terms, a description of the relevant populations which has no actual numbers attached, a discussion of possible "causes" which relies heavily on the "poor decisions" (i.e., it's their own damn fault) model while completely ignoring the medical bankruptcies which propelled at least half the families I met into homelessness during years of volunteering, and including NO proposals regarding what the city planned to do to reduce the numbers of homeless people, create more affordable housing, develop some sort of case management for victims, etc. Nothing. Nada.

OUTCOME 2: One of the two head pastors lost his job. His congregation, utterly burned out with washing sheets & blankets, staying up all night with guests, transporting & dumping human beings onto below-zero streetcorners at 7 a.m. on frigid mornings, dealing (without training of any kind) with psychotic breaks, drug & alcohol abuse, occasional violence, lice, fleas, occasional fire-setting, medical emergencies, and on and on, held a meeting and voted him out of his pulpit (Congregationalists, so they can do this).

OUTCOME 3: The churches closed their shelters.

OUTCOME 4: a couple of other churches are now offering cold-weather shelters with less space, shorter time frame (starts later in the season and ends earlier) and serving fewer people.

OUTCOME 5: The homeless population has nearly doubled since our churches closed our shelter doors after 10 years.

LESSON LEARNED: As long as the churchgoers, synagogue members, mosque attendees, and civic-minded atheists of this community are willing to volunteer their time, talent, and treasure to keep (some of) the homeless from freezing to death (it was -8 F this morning when I got up), the government will do nothing.

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Brenda Clough
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In the US the libertarian-minded insist that all this charity should indeed be the job of the church and not the government. They are of course perfectly willing to have people die in the gutter.

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cliffdweller
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As mentioned above, our city coalition has in fact been able to reduce homelessness in our city by 50% in the last 5 years, and end homelessness among children this year.

This was possible ONLY because of the coalition we were able to build of civic, business and faith communities all working together to make it happen. Without all 3 of those entities, and without funding from federal, state and local level, it just wouldn't be possible.

This year we're dealing with extreme challenges due to Hep A outbreak among our homeless, and the possibility of significant loss of funding from the federal govt. Very possibly the hard work of all these people will be swept away in another one of the GOP purges.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Martin60
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Dear God Ohher. How do you bear it?

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Love wins

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Sioni Sais
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11,000 homes empty for more than ten years!.

WTF is going on? A lot of them are in depressed areas but even in those there are homeless families. Here is a new year resolution for local government - get your finger out and bring these homes back into use.

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Martin60
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But that would take capital expenditure as you pointed out Sioni.
Posts: 17219 | From: Never Dobunni after all. Corieltauvi after all. Just moved to the capital. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Sioni Sais
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
But that would take capital expenditure as you pointed out Sioni.

So do HS2, Trident, the (no-aircraft as yet) carriers and any amount of shiny kit. That capital has to be raised through taxation so why not, as I have said before, get people off welfare and thereby reduce taxation by hiring people to do the semi- and unskilled jobs needed to fix these flats and houses?

It's almost as if those in government wants millions of poor people.

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"He isn't Doctor Who, he's The Doctor"

(Paul Sinha, BBC)

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Martin60
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There's no knighthoods providing for the poor.

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Love wins

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Brenda Clough
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quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
11,000 homes empty for more than ten years!.

WTF is going on? A lot of them are in depressed areas but even in those there are homeless families. Here is a new year resolution for local government - get your finger out and bring these homes back into use.

I went back upthread and couldn't find the post where I mentioned something similar. But I believe the reply was that these properties are owned by somebody or another, and it would be clearly unjust to simply take them away from the owner. Is there a way to compel an absentee landlord to actually rent the empty property out?

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
There's no knighthoods providing for the poor.

Well, I know a civil sernat who got one - after retiring from working in the field of provision for the poor.

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Boogie

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# 13538

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
11,000 homes empty for more than ten years!.

WTF is going on? A lot of them are in depressed areas but even in those there are homeless families. Here is a new year resolution for local government - get your finger out and bring these homes back into use.

I went back upthread and couldn't find the post where I mentioned something similar. But I believe the reply was that these properties are owned by somebody or another, and it would be clearly unjust to simply take them away from the owner. Is there a way to compel an absentee landlord to actually rent the empty property out?
Yes, they do so in Germany (Baden Württemberg). I’m not sure how it works but my friend has a flat and has to prove it’s ovcupied to the local council (air b&b does count)

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Garden. Room. Walk

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Bishops Finger
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Our local Winter Night Shelter began its work last night - it's an interdenominational effort, shared out amongst a number of different churches.

A Good Friend is heavily involved, and has been for the past two years, so I await with interest her reports on how it's going this time round (IIRC, it will operate up to Easter this year).

As I may have said before, the actual number of homeless people living on the streets of this conurbation of 250000 is relatively small - 50 or so, it is thought - but that's 50 too many (and doesn't include an unknown number of 'sofa surfers').

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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Baptist Trainfan
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A good work, but I'm surprised you don't start till January. The one in my last church in Ipswich began at the end of November but admittedly ended a bit before yours - early March (about 14 weeks in total).

I think it's noticeable how much of this work, and Food Banks and Street Pastors too, is done on a voluntary basis by Christians. So can religion - as the secularists so stridently aver (good word, that) - be such A Bad Thing after all?

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Ohher
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# 18607

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Dear God Ohher. How do you bear it?

I don't. My small apartment includes heat, however erratic (comes on like gangbusters about 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.; right now, at about 2 p.m., I am wearing three thin layers & am reasonably comfortable).

Others, however, bear appalling cold; it was -18 F this morning (-28 degrees Celsius, if that's what you're used to). That's before factoring in wind chills, which were fairly fierce overnight. That's in the downtown area of my city. If people died of cold last night, it probably won't be discovered for a couple of days.

Is this actually a society we're living in? A society?

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From the Land of the Native American Brave and the Home of the Buy-One-Get-One-Free

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Bishops Finger
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Baptist Trainfan said:
quote:
A good work, but I'm surprised you don't start till January.
Fair point, and I'm not sure why it doesn't start earlier. Possible reasons are lack of volunteers before and over the Christmas period, and perhaps the mild (even warm) late autumn weather.

It's a work in progress, with lessons being learnt as they go along, so it may be that the timing will change in future years.

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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Bishops Finger
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Well, our local Night Shelters are up and running, some run by churches, and others by secular agencies.

But this potential tragedy happened here today.

[Disappointed]

IJ

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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