Posts Tagged ‘The Problem Of Homelessness’

Polarity

February 7, 2021

            “We must work on homeless issue” is the title of Newark’s 2ndward council person Jeremy Blake’s response to the 1-8-21 news of the end of low barrier shelter/beginning of another thrift store on East Main St. (guest column Newark Advocate 2-7-21). “I voted along with all of my colleagues on the City Council to spend taxpayer dollars for a consultant to perform work and then provide recommendations on how to end chronic homelessness.” Even though the consultant resigned due to her own finding that the community was not committed to the solution (let alone the problem), Mr. Blake argues that the consultation was but a step in a further process of meetings and conversations. Such a drawn out and extensive “process” never seems to accompany council matters with regard to TIF’s, renovations, redevelopment, development, or even annexation for the sake of development. Indeed, Blake’s approach laser focuses on the homeless aspect without mention of the homefull. Is such a concept possible? Or is it like thinking of night without day, wet without dry, good without bad? Reporting for the NY Times (2-4-21) Stefanos Chen headlines The Down Side to Life in a Supertall Tower: Leaks, Creaks, Breaks. “The nearly 1,400-foot tower at 432 Park Ave., briefly the tallest residential building in the world, was the pinnacle of New York’s luxury condo boom half a decade ago [2016], fueled largely by foreign buyers seeking discretion and big returns. Six years later, residents of the exclusive tower are now at odds with the developers, and each other, making clear that even multimillion-dollar price tags do not guarantee problem-free living.” “The building, a slender tower that critics have likened to a middle finger because of its contentious height, is mostly sold out, with a projected value of $3.1 billion.” “[Sarina] Abramovich and her husband, Mikhail, retired business owners who worked in the oil and gas business, bought a high-floor, 3,500-square-foot apartment at the tower for nearly $17 million in 2016, to have a secondary home near their adult children.” “She’s aware that the plight of billionaires won’t garner much sympathy, but says she is speaking out on principle. “Everything here was camouflage,” she said. “If I knew then what I know now, I would have never bought.”” How many times have we heard that hiring a consultant is the way to solve a problem? Do consultants wear camo? Today’s NY Times provided some PC sympathy. Conor Dougherty headlines Pandemic’s Toll on Housing: Falling Behind, Doubling Up, Eviction moratoriums don’t keep arrears from piling up, and aid to renters may not reach the most vulnerable. (2-6-21) Analysis uncovered these relevant insights: “The nation has a plague of housing instability that was festering long before Covid-19, and the pandemic’s economic toll has only made it worse.” “Even before last year, about 11 million households — one in four U.S. renters — were spending more than half their pretax income on housing, and overcrowding was on the rise. By one estimate, for every 100 very low-income households, only 36 affordable rentals are available.” “Reflecting the broader economy, the pain in the U.S. housing market is most severe at the bottom. Surveys of large landlords whose units tend to be higher quality and more expensive have been remarkably resilient through the pandemic. Surveys of small landlords and low-income tenants show that late fees and debt are piling up.” “But for every million or so households who are evicted in the United States each year, there are many more millions who move out before they miss a payment, who cut back on food and medicine to make rent, who take up informal housing arrangements that exist outside the traditional landlord-tenant relationship. “What happens in housing court will miss most of the people who need help,” said Davin Reed, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. While rents have fallen in many big cities, vacancy rates for the cheapest buildings are essentially flat from last year, according to CoStar Group, a commercial property group. That is: Nothing about Covid-19 has changed the fact that there is a longstanding shortage of affordable housing, so anyone who loses an affordable home will still have a hard time finding a new one.” “It is a world of cash rent and oral agreements that are unstable and easily torn — a big reason that various studies show informal tenants are more likely to become homeless. “People who have places they can be evicted from are better off than those who don’t,” said Marybeth Shinn, a professor at Vanderbilt University who studies homelessness.” But conversations about and “solutions” to the homeless problem are primarily focused on the problem “along the banks of the waterways which travel through the neighborhoods of the second ward that many of our chronic homeless call home.” (Blake) Analysis finds this akin to addressing agricultural weed eradication programs without mentioning how it is we farm in the first place. Newark is not exceptional to anything Dougherty writes about, nor what Chen covers. When speaking of big money west end development no mention is made of those who are couch surfing and doubling, tripling up to find shelter. And in researching a solution to the homeless issue, no word on the quickly acquiesced and subsidized big money developments. Flat earth versus a globe that spins round and comes round, night without day, homeless without homefull, it is obvious where the roots of American polarity spring forth.

Representative Of Dollars

April 17, 2019

The latest video/press coverage provided by the Newark Advocate, after the Monday night (4-15-19) Newark City Council meeting, is disturbing in the least, alarming at most. The mayor of the city is shown, or reported, claiming himself to be “not in charge,” “doesn’t run” things, “not head of the city”, etc. In short, he is a mayor of __? Analysis finds the only word that fills in the blank is “money”. He swears any aid to the homeless will not be free. Indeed, the only frame he can put around the “problem” of homelessness is that of money and cost. Given any celebration of downtown moneyed renewal, or Chamber event, the mayor would bask in the glow of leadership, for here the “problems” of cash flow are self-fulfilling (you only entertain the “problem” of lack of funds if you are certain they can be secured. See this blog’s “Attention To The Community” 3-22-19). But with the “problem” of homelessness he becomes a city manager and not a leader of the people (“We represent the taxpayers’ dollars … I’m saying we don’t just willy nilly spend money. We have to do it the right way. I’m not saying it’s a reason not to, I’m just saying, you’ve got to work out the details.”). Part of the details that make for the most efficient solution to the “problem” of the homeless is to relocate them out of the city entirely (“The mayor suggested land outside the city limits would be better because it would involve fewer laws and rules, and the zoning is more open.” Kent Mallett, Mayor confronted on Newark homeless issue after council meeting, 4-17-19). The alarming aspect of Newark’s city manager’s, er, mayor’s accountant disposition to the problem of homelessness is within the description – “homeless problem.” It is the problem of homelessness, not the homeless are a problem. In the recent ongoing Henry Louis Gates Jr. documentary series “Reconstruction: America After The Civil War” one of the contributors points out that all people have problems, but to say that a people are a problem is to dehumanize them. A city manager focused on “show me the money” solutions to problems would obviously fail to appreciate the nuance of the statement. No, Analysis finds it disturbing and alarming that Newark elects to have a city manager dedicated to representing “the taxpayer’s dollars” rather than a mayor of the people (“According to a new study, a group of 60 companies in the Fortune 500 booked nearly $80 billion in total profits in 2018, but each owed $0 in taxes. Worse: Many of these companies actually got rebates from Uncle Sam, totaling more than $4 billion.” Tim Dickinson for Rolling Stone, Billions in Profits, No Taxes: How the Trump Tax Code Let 26 Companies Off the Hook, 4-15-19. So much for corporate “personhood”, not when it comes to being a taxpayer!).