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We should ban homelessness and public begging

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This is a thought which has been flittering through my head for some years, that we ought to do something about this pernicious mess on the streets. It was brought to the fore by an article in Quillette today, and this being a lazy Sunday morning, I've decided to treat you to it. 

There is no reason why we could not accommodate all homeless people in a reasonable, rooming house style accommodation, preferably with mandatory treatment for mental illness and addiction. There aren't that many of them, and their appearance on the street is debilitating to public order. They reek, they are sometimes dangerous, and they often commit crimes. It's a completely wasted life of no value, and I think there comes a point when society needs to step in and do what's best for people who are largely incapable of making their own decisions. Banning street people, banning public begging, would make cities more livable. It would also save some of these pathetic creatures and perhaps let them start new lives.

 

First, the social disintegration that the continued presence of beggars creates. As observed by political scientist James Q. Wilson, who together with criminologist George Kelling conceived the “broken windows” theory that visible disorder in public spaces causes a decline in social capital and a rise in criminal behavior, in Thinking about Crime (1985), the “unchecked panhandler is, in effect, the first broken window.” Moreover, the constant exposure to the deception involved in begging, such as pretending disabilities or other personal difficulties, is detrimental to social trust and reciprocity.

Secondly, but not least important, there is the debasement to the beggars themselves and the risk that the daily sight of people kneeling and sleeping in the streets will cause a mental separation of certain populations from the rest of society in the minds of ordinary citizens and teach our children that the dignity of the poor simply matters less. It has been estimated that approximately 70 percent of beggars in Oslo sleep outdoors.4 Victims of trafficking to Western Europe have also reported living in disused buses, abandoned houses, and other makeshift shelters lacking electric heat and running water.

https://quillette.com/2019/04/10/europes-new-beggars/

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18 minutes ago, Argus said:

This is a thought which has been flittering through my head for some years, that we ought to do something about this pernicious mess on the streets. It was brought to the fore by an article in Quillette today, and this being a lazy Sunday morning, I've decided to treat you to it. 

There is no reason why we could not accommodate all homeless people in a reasonable, rooming house style accommodation, preferably with mandatory treatment for mental illness and addiction. There aren't that many of them, and their appearance on the street is debilitating to public order. They reek, they are sometimes dangerous, and they often commit crimes. It's a completely wasted life of no value, and I think there comes a point when society needs to step in and do what's best for people who are largely incapable of making their own decisions. Banning street people, banning public begging, would make cities more livable. It would also save some of these pathetic creatures and perhaps let them start new lives.

 

First, the social disintegration that the continued presence of beggars creates. As observed by political scientist James Q. Wilson, who together with criminologist George Kelling conceived the “broken windows” theory that visible disorder in public spaces causes a decline in social capital and a rise in criminal behavior, in Thinking about Crime (1985), the “unchecked panhandler is, in effect, the first broken window.” Moreover, the constant exposure to the deception involved in begging, such as pretending disabilities or other personal difficulties, is detrimental to social trust and reciprocity.

Secondly, but not least important, there is the debasement to the beggars themselves and the risk that the daily sight of people kneeling and sleeping in the streets will cause a mental separation of certain populations from the rest of society in the minds of ordinary citizens and teach our children that the dignity of the poor simply matters less. It has been estimated that approximately 70 percent of beggars in Oslo sleep outdoors.4 Victims of trafficking to Western Europe have also reported living in disused buses, abandoned houses, and other makeshift shelters lacking electric heat and running water.

https://quillette.com/2019/04/10/europes-new-beggars/

I believe that every person should have access to a safe place to sleep, take care of personal hygiene, and keep warm or cool as the case may be.  Small bedrooms with shared kitchens and bathrooms and access to groceries and basic guidance on where to go to collect welfare, how to navigate a job board and apply for a job, how to find training, and so forth, should be provided by government.  Eventually I could see a guaranteed basic income kick in for long-term unemployed people.  

I also agree that for those who seem unable or unwilling to leave unsafe derelict street living, there should be a reasonable police and/or medically forced removal to the kind of facility described above, as long as such removals are humane and non-violent.  

Edited by Zeitgeist

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1 hour ago, Zeitgeist said:

I also agree that for those who seem unable or unwilling to leave unsafe derelict street living, there should be a reasonable police and/or medically forced removal to the kind of facility described above, as long as such removals are humane and non-violent.  

There's the rub.

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I don't know how homelessness is across major cities across Canada, but in Montréal QC, homelessness is driven by two main factors; mental illness and drug abuse.

Many psychiatrists let go of their hardest cases and let them 'get away' of their treatments and simply let the patients go to outside their hospitals when they feel like it. Psychiatrists have one less hard case to take care of and they continue making lots of money prescribing Xanax to upper class women.

Banning homelessness is not the only way to go, we have to make psychiatrists and psychiatric institutions accountable for the patients they 'lose' on purpose so their job is easier for them. 

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2 hours ago, Argus said:

This is a thought which has been flittering through my head for some years, that we ought to do something about this pernicious mess on the streets. It was brought to the fore by an article in Quillette today, and this being a lazy Sunday morning, I've decided to treat you to it. 

There is no reason why we could not accommodate all homeless people in a reasonable, rooming house style accommodation, preferably with mandatory treatment for mental illness and addiction. There aren't that many of them, and their appearance on the street is debilitating to public order. They reek, they are sometimes dangerous, and they often commit crimes. It's a completely wasted life of no value, and I think there comes a point when society needs to step in and do what's best for people who are largely incapable of making their own decisions. Banning street people, banning public begging, would make cities more livable. It would also save some of these pathetic creatures and perhaps let them start new lives.

The Salvation Army here in Ottawa was proposing a new facility just of what you are describing. However the residents around the area end up protesting the thing to death. Some were protesting the size of the facility, but that would have got a lot of people off the street and into rehabilitation programs.

https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/vanier-residents-rally-against-salvation-army-shelter-to-mark-anniversary-of-controversial-proposal

Quote

Vanier residents who say they’re worried about property values, crime and the overall integrity of their neighbourhood held a rally Sunday to mark the anniversary of the Salvation Army’s proposal for a controversial new homeless shelter on Montreal Road.

Plans for the 350-bed facility, which was proposed last year and approved by city council in November, are currently stalled pending an appeals process at a provincial tribunal.

SOS Vanier, a local group that has waged a campaign against the shelter that now includes the appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board, repeated its message Sunday that the city should be building more affordable housing for women and families, not creating an “urban ghetto.”

 

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2 hours ago, GostHacked said:

The Salvation Army here in Ottawa was proposing a new facility just of what you are describing. However the residents around the area end up protesting the thing to death. Some were protesting the size of the facility, but that would have got a lot of people off the street and into rehabilitation programs.

https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/vanier-residents-rally-against-salvation-army-shelter-to-mark-anniversary-of-controversial-proposal

As far as I'm aware what they want is a homeless shelter, not a residence for homeless people. These are quite separate things. A homeless shelter is just a place for these people to shuffle in and lay down on a cold night. I'm talking about a sort of YMCA style room they could call their own as a permanent residence. Somewhere that social services could then apply for welfare for them and get them into addiction and mental health treatment.

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