It’s been roughly a year since this Pandemic has started and we’ve learned a lot about each other as a society. We’ve learned that a lot of people don’t have an understanding of how air works. Some people seem to believe that cover your nose with a cloth will hinder you from breathing. This means that superheroes like Spiderman, the Hooded Justice, the Black Panther are all suffocating as they fight crime…which I guess is what makes them super?
Or if you take your mask off, it’ll help you hear better. The amount of people I’ve heard say “Let me take my mask off so I hear you better” is staggering. Which goes to show us that a lot of people don’t have an understanding of the human respiratory system as well…or how ears work.
We’ve also learned a majority of jobs don’t need us to sit in traffic all morning, then sit in a cubicle in a gray building and be forced to talk about Game Of Thrones at the Water Cooler! Yes, I saw the tits on that show, Jerry and no I don’t want to discuss it because you make it weird. I don’t need you to describe the tits, my eyes work just fine! Most of us can do our jobs from home without pants.
One of the biggest things this Pandemic is teaching us is how truly awful Capitalism really is! Thanks to Capitalism, a system that claims to eradicate poverty and ensure that every citizen has the access to money, is well-fed and fully ejaculated, America is due to see unprecedented levels of homelessness.
During the Pandemic, there’s a lot of people who can’t work or pivot their jobs to a virtual setting or their hours are cut to less than part time work. These people look to the government to do their jobs by providing economic relief directly to their citizens. Government responded by…giving $6 trillion to Wall Street and the Banking Industry.
Americans were then told stay at home, unless you had to take care of the essentials. You know the really important stuff like groceries, medications…and booze. I’m pretty sure the fact that booze is in the America’s Amendments, twice, makes it essential. Soon we’ll add weed to that list as well. Frankly we should’ve legalized weed day the term ‘jazz cigarette’ went out of fashion in 1946.
Because there was no economic relief directly to citizens, and the evictions moratoriums were coming and going, Capitalism created a situation where Americans citizens were going to put out into the streets as a new wave of homelessness. And much like New Wave music, this will also be a disaster!
The oddity with this situation is the fact that governments wanted to us to be locked into our homes with no financial support, and now are creating an economic system where a bunch of us are going to be out on the streets, due to no financial support. Make up your damn mind! Are we supposed to stay in or be out in the streets? Stay at home orders don’t really work when you don’t have a home to go to.
But a lot of folks chastise the homeless population and blame the issue on the victim, rather than identifying the economic forces involved to push someone to live under the bridges, so to speak. This is the ‘stop hitting yourself’ of reasons. “Stop impoverishing yourself, stop impoverishing yourself!”
Right now America has over 553,000 homeless people, when you count the people living in their cars, couches and makeshift accommodations. At any given time there are probably at minimum 500,000 homeless people across the nation. Compare that to Japan, where they have a total of about 4000 homeless people. Again America proves that it is number 1 and doesn’t care in what it’s number 1 as long as it’s the first. USA! USA! USA!
70% of the homeless population are individuals and about 30% are families, and yes some have kids with them too. 37% of the homeless population are dire need of housing and help. Black, brown and LGBTQ folks that are a majority of the homeless. 17% of the homeless population are Veterans.
I have a rule that I think is a pretty good one. For serving in rich people’s wars Veteran homelessness should be zero. There should an Iraq War Veteran living with Dick Cheney, Hilary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, the Bushes, the Rockefeller’s, and so on, non-stop. And these people should be waiting on them hand & foot. In fact, a Veteran should be allowed to fire one round of buckshot at Dick Cheney at any time at least once a day. Not to fatally wound him or anything, but just so he knows what they went through. And then Cheney apologizes to the Vet!
Homelessness to this scale is a result of Reganomics. Are we surprised? Oh man, a mediocre actor turned out to be one of the worst Presidents America has ever had. Color me shocked…and then Regan can imprison me because shocked is a different color than white and white is the only acceptable color under a Regan regime. And Barack Obama once said, if he could’ve voted in the 80s, he would’ve voted for Regan. The amount of proof that we live in a corporate oligarchy, ruled by one party is stacking higher and higher isn’t it. Ronald Regan is the “I’m not racist, but…” of Presidents.
Now under the Regan Regime, public & affordable housing programs, along with a lot of social safety nets were cut. Mix that with stagnant wages with little or no raises, increased cost of living and corporations moving their factories overseas to get cheap labor and enrich themselves, you’ve got a recipe for record high homeless rates.
But people can be absolutely callous towards to the homeless. More often than not, people ignore the homeless, as if they weren’t really even there. It’s like when a very endowed woman enters an all boys school. Everyone just look at the floor and hold your breath. It’ll all be over in a minute. The only one that stares is Jerry, who grows up to be the guy at the water cooler awkwardly describing breasts to everyone.
People think the homeless are drains on society cashing in their welfare checks on booze and drugs, like this former Oregon resident. It’s not easy to get signed up for these programs without an address. Not just that, but try being a housed immigrant trying to get on Medicaid, defining and redefining citizenship and a Green Card once every 40 seconds. It’s exhausting.
But this guy goes on to say more callous things about homeless people. Trying to sell bottles for only drugs and booze? What about food? Not all homeless people are drug addicts, but can you really blame them for doing drugs or needing a drink. Most of us are ready to pound a fifth of whiskey because we got cut off in traffic. Most of us would take a hit of heroin if they didn’t find the right kind of cheese we wanted at the grocery store!
These people have to survive in rough conditions day in and day out, so if they want a little booze to take the edge of callous statements like Craig’s, then go for it. I’ll pour you the first fuckin’ shot myself. Cheers. Besides, don’t forget that in America, alcohol is essential.
People like this often call Homeless folks, drains on society, but champion people like Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, the Waltons and Bill Gates. Those guys are real drains to society. They don’t pay taxes, are creating the homeless crisis by pushing for deregulation on all private industries, creating monopolies and keeping the wages stagnant.
And therein lies our next reason for homelessness in America; the stagnation of wages. In America, minimum wage hasn’t increased in over a decade. That’s like if you were to watch the show Friends, and every episode was Ross & Rachel dating and then going on a break and dating again, for 10 straight years. At least Friends had the decency to stop that shit after 9 years.
With stagnant wages, and corporations skirting labor laws by hiring part time workers, most Americans have to get 2-3 jobs to survive and even then some don’t. A fair amount of the homeless population are employed. They just don’t make enough to afford a vehicle to take them to work and a home to house them. And that’s not their fault. That’s the fault of every CEO, corporate stooge and politician that lacks the will to increase the minimum wage to a livable amount because they need to satiate their greed.
The billionaires, CEOs, and the purchased politicians are the real addicts here. They’re addicted to money.
But look don’t worry, there’s slight, kinda sorta, but not really chance of the minimum wage will go up to $15/hour from $7.25/hour by 2025. That’ll be roughly 5 years too late to be ten years too late. Which for math fans out there means, it’s 15 years too late for the Fight For Fifteen.
The wage issue & the cost of living is one of the major reasons why cities like Seattle, San Diego and San Francisco are seeing an increase in their homeless population. When I was in San Francisco, the city streets were filled with homeless people. They didn’t panhandle or ask for money but they did give me a look like “Shit you probably don’t have money either”. And they were correct.
Despite my lack of money, I usually try to give homeless people something; food, water, some cash if I have it. And this is something I get chastised for by my friends. They always say “Krish you have no money, if you keep giving them money or food, then what’s left for you?!” And that might be true, but right now I have more than them so it’s ok. And if I do wind up homeless, when they’re off the streets, they’ll give me a dollar when I ask for it. That’s called the Circle of Life.
Another reason people try to avoid the homeless is because they all have mental illnesses! This is also not really true. Some do have mental illnesses and are in dire need of some kind of help. And really after being ignored by most of humanity, you might go a little crazy, just so people will acknowledge your existence. And if you don’t, that’s even crazier!
Have you ever gotten the silent treatment from your partner or significant other or your cat? And then after a while, you start wondering if you really exist or if you’ve become Patrick Swayze from the movie Ghost? Being homeless is that feeling 100% of the time!
And which one of us can really claim that we don’t have any mental illnesses? Everyone is a little crazy. I’m a hyper anxious dude with PTSD from an emotionally abusive relationship and decided Comedian was my full time job! I’m like 66% crazy!
Another major cause of homelessness is prisoners who are let out with absolutely nothing to their name. They are discriminated against for a lot of jobs and can’t find a stable home and therefore either wind up back in prison or homeless, which also winds them back in prison! Regardless, the prison system is set to recycle prisoners in America, which is the only green initiative this country believes in.
There are some folks who prefer the unhoused lifestyle. They live in their cars and are nomads through the land. They either hustle on the street or get temporary gigs as they travel around. Those folks are part of the homeless population too. But their reasons are often used as a scapegoat to not help the homeless. “Oh well they want to be that way. They made their choices!”
The reality is that homeless problem was created and escalated by Capitalism. You can’t run an economic system built on the greed of the few and expect the majority to benefit. This is an unequal system and it will continue to create further inequalities, till most of us are homeless and working for AmazoMart sponsored by MicroApple.
As if all the negative stigmas against homelessness weren’t enough, don’t worry, most states have basically made it illegal to be homeless. I might be going out on a huge limb here, but if we make it illegal to be homeless, then shouldn’t it be double illegal to create that problem? But landlords have filed over 160,000 eviction notices in 27 cities alone during the pandemic!
At this point shouldn’t we just call Landlords that evict people during a Pandemic “Super spreaders” considering their actions will likely lead to folks getting COVID-19. Right now the homeless population has some of the highest risks of catching and spreading COVID. And American Capitalism wants to create more of them, proving that Capitalism is the ultimate Virus.
From spikes under bridges to making park benches less accessible, state after state is making homelessness illegal instead of finding actual solutions to the problem. I’m not sure what the expectation was there. Did they expect the homeless folks to look at these spikes and go “Oh boy, welp I guess I just go back that apartment I’ve been holding out on and give up this Jack Kerouac fantasy! No Hobo life for me!”
Things are so desperate for homeless people sometimes, that they commit petty crimes so they can be hauled away to a jail cell to get a bed for a night or two. A system that requires people to break laws to get a bed and 2 square meals in a day is a broken system!
The most insane of the anti-homeless laws are the ones that make feeding the homeless illegal. There are multiple states that have decided to make it illegal to feed the homeless. Look I understand Florida making it illegal, because they’re shaped like dick and hence act like one, but the rest of them don’t have much of an excuse.
Fortunately, there are organizations that have resisted this law from the Dark Ages! One of the largest of these organizations is Food Not Bombs. Since the 1980s, they’ve been arrested by cops for feeding the homeless and even battled with politicians, like Nancy Pelosi, to ensure that the homeless are just taken care of. Things got so bad in the early days, that the Food Not Bombs volunteers had send decoy food to outsmart the cops!
The issue the cops had with Food Not Bombs was the lack of permits. So they went and got themselves a permit. Human beings are uncomfortable with general niceness for the sake of niceness. In a society built on hyper individualism and paranoia, kindness is seen as criminal behavior instead of an example we can all live by.
A major reason elected officials didn’t want Food Not Bombs to feed people is because after people eat, they poop. There you have it folks. There is now an official government order that says…Everyone poops! I’m glad our elected officials are answering tough questions.
Take that Neil DeGrasse Tyson, with your cosmos and telescopes! The government just answered one of the largest questions in the universe. Do we all poop…and yes, yes we all poop! Let’s pack it up and head home folks. Better give them a raise.
Another excuse the oligarchs had with Food Not Bombs was that feeding the homeless was unhygienic! Boy if they think feeding the homeless is unhygienic, they’ve never been in the mosh pit of a Thrice concert! It’s filled with sweat, spit and blood and ejaculate and probably some poop depending on what song they’re playing. Some of their songs are loud and startling.
Food Not Bombs doesn’t encourage you go dumpster diving. They recommend getting your food from Grocery stores and restaurants that would throw away food in excess. 40% of food globally goes to waste and most of that food is still good. Why not let it go to those that need it, instead of the dumpster.
Food Not Bombs is alleviating one of the most stressful aspects of homeless life, finding food. This idea is so radical & dangerous the FBI spied on them and deemed them one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the country!
And I’m sure some folks are shocked, but don’t forget the FBI started getting more aggressive towards the Black Panthers after they successfully started feeding kids. The FBI is basically anti-food and at this point serves no purpose. They’re worse than Marie Antionette. At least that bitch wanted people to eat cake.
But states like California are breaking up homeless encampments that have sprung up. For fucks sake what the hell do you want these people to do? They can’t afford housing because you need to be Google rich to live there and you ruined park benches, so yeah, they started camping. If the cops & politicians really hate these homeless encampments a simple solution would be cancel rents, instead of baling out the banks for $6 Trillion and approving a $800 billion military budget, they could’ve just covered people’s rents for a year or 12.
Look I have a rule, you can bail out the banks and Wall St. for upwards of $6 trillion but all debts should be erased and rents should be paid up by the banks. They should pay 1 years worth of rent for every war they’ve funded. I think that’s a pretty fair trade off. You want war and government handouts? Great, we want no rents and no debts. And yeah, we all get shoot Dick Cheney once with a buckshot. Not fatally, but just enough to let him he’s an asshole. And relax, he’ll be fine, he’s got Rush Limbaugh’s heart now.
The reality is that making homelessness & food illegal isn’t a solution to fix the problem. That’s like stubbing your toe on a chair and then you kick that chair. You haven’t fixed the problem, and now your leg is bleeding. If America wants to fix the homelessness, they’re going to have to stop kicking them when they’re already down.
Since homelessness is a massive problem, it needs a pretty massive and bold solution. Some states are coming up with…a solution. New York City, a city that some say is the greatest city on the planet, has a program where they pay homeless people’s rent for a year…if they go to New Jersey!
Now I know some of ya’ll wondering, why not just pay rent for a year in New York City? Because they don’t want any poor people living in the greatest city on Earth. What do you think this is, Atlanta or Chicago or Cleveland or St. Louis…? Ok, you get the idea.
Look even the cops in New York City get to tired of going after the same homeless people that they buy them a one way ticket our of town! And this is encouraged as a viable solution. Displace the displaced, because making the problem exponentially worse has always worked in America! This is not what people meant when they said, fight fire with fire! New York City is literally saying (NYC Accent) “Forget about it” to the Homeless.
New York City has also deregulated rents, but those that already lived in the apartments are grandfathered in and don’t have to worry about rising rents. But don’t worry, there’s ways to fuck these people in the face. These sort of practices are what increase homelessness in the City.
And really New York City is the Greatest city in the world…for Exploitative Capitalists or if you want to become an exploitative Capitalist. If you want to become a sociopath with no feelings, there’s a fun island you go to and practice not having feelings. But hey you get to see the Lion King on Broadway sometimes.
Housing is the primary issue that leads to homelessness and in this case the problem is the solution. Various states and even nations have been putting forth the Housing First program, which simply gets homes for the homeless.
In America there are 2 different types of Housing First options. The Permanent Support Housing is for those folks that are chronically or permanently homeless. This way have a home and can focus on getting cleaned up, get mental health services and learn how to get a job. The second is called Re-housing. This is for those that need a little time to get back on their feet.
For those that think this is a handout, think of it a little differently. Housing First is the boots these people need to pull themselves up by. You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you don’t have any boots to begin with. Most likely because the cops took your boots away when they arrested you last for peeing on a bank – which I think we should all be allowed to do once a day. Housing First gives homeless people a leg to stand on rather than knee capping them from start.
In Salt Lake City, in the first year they decreased homelessness by 90%! In most other cities that have tried this program it’s at minimum 75%! Turns out when you offer people some compassion and housing, they can focus on bettering themselves and get their lives on track. But when you put profit first, it’s more likely to limit their opportunities and wreck lives.
Homeless folks in the Housing First program have a higher likelihood of getting a job and a keeping it. Their mental health improves thanks to regular therapy and, if needed, medications. Plus their physical health improves because they get regular meals and showers.
And I know, I know, I have to answer the big question: “Where’s the money gonna come from!?!” A program like this significantly decreases homelessness and humanizes these people for the first in a long time. Can you really put a price on that? Well some people have and its $20 billion.
Now before you roll your eyes at this unthinkable number, remember Wall St. got a $6 trillion handout and our current War budget is over $700 billion! A fraction of these amounts get people off the streets. The rest can get everyone a Universal Basic Income, Medicare For All and a pony for every American. So when your child asks you why they have a pony, you let them it’s because of the Military Industrial Complex and the fucking bankers!
But some cities are doing something a little different to budget for Housing First programs. Before Capitalism and Climate Change made Austin less weird and more inhospitable, they had implemented a Housing First program who’s budget came from Defunding the Police.
Austin was housing the chronically homeless in empty hotels. This cost about $12 million to make happen, $6 million of that from the police budgets. Following that $6.5 million will be set aside annually to help Austin’s Housing First initiative, which for one hotel will cost $1.6 million/year to run. Austin’s police budget was slashed another $20 million getting rid of Cadet classes, license plate readers and standard issue aviator sunglasses. They now have discount gas station sunglasses, but it still gives them the same level of douchiness. Plus an additional $80 million was cut from civilian services which will be allocated to a different department.
I know that sounds like a lot, but remember even after their budgets were slashed by over $100 million they still have a fuck ton of money to employ cops. And I know, I know, the reaction to this news is going to “OH man, here we go! Crime is going to sky rocket in Austin! People are gonna commit murders and start jacking off in the streets!” RELAX! Austin isn’t going to get that weird!
Actually Housing First decreases the cost of emergency services. It saves cities about $31,000/person/year! Multiply that by the hundreds and thousands of people that wind up being homeless that are now taken care of, this program is actually saving cities money. This means over funding the police departments, as Joe Biden and a majority of Democrats & all the Republicans want, would be doubly unnecessary and an insult to basic math.
The Housing First program has also found success various countries from Canada to Czech Republic! In the Czech Republic this program is used to help the Roma or Gypsy population re-enter the housing markets. When the program started they were thinking success rate would be about 80%, but 100% of the families in the program from 2017 are still housed.
In this program kids are given a stable environment to get a good education, the family’s physical and psychological health improved and the expenditures decreased, giving their lives some all around stability.
In Canada, places like Saskatoon can reach temperatures of minus 30 degrees. Harm Reduction Centers are designated warm spaces and because of the pandemic have had to cut down on their beds. They’re calling for 24/7 warm spaces to help the homeless which would include Housing First programs. Its genuinely incredible that Canadians don’t just hibernate in the winter. It falls below 50 degrees and I never want to leave the house. But I do suppose in order hibernate you’d need a home, which makes another great argument for Housing First.
In Edmonton, Canada, this program has helped over 12,000 people since 2009 and currently houses about 1,100 people. They’ve budgeted that 30 clients can be taken care with $800,000. And in Canada, they take booze to their clients. And before everyone huffs and puffs, remember that Homeless people are people too and they have to right to alcohol just like the rest of us! There’s unending proof that Housing First works and improves the conditions of these humans and decreases homelessness.
Isn’t it strange that we need proof that compassion is an effective and financial sound method of addressing some of the deepest & most troubling issues that Capitalism has created? Further proving that Capitalism is a system that creates more inequalities & thrives on it. Compassion, logic & empathy should be our default setting, but when you have a dominant economic system that rewards cruelty, it’s easy to see why compassion needs to be proven as an effective solution.
Housing First also puts the choice in the client’s hands. That means if they don’t want to they don’t have to. But there are some people who’ve looked at Housing First programs and see it as unfair. Why would these people get free housing when the rest of us have to work hard to get homes and apartments?
Arguments like are made towards ending student debt too. The right to shelter is a basic need that should be recognized any basic government. And yes, I’m all for Housing First & cancelling student debt. As someone who does work really hard for what they have and paid off their student loans by being broke a lot, I’m 100% fine with a homeless person picking their home and given a leg up to get their lives back on track and canceling all of the student debt.
And if it’s someone with a job and they no longer have to worry about rent, even better. Maybe that’ll get us realize that the notion of rents and mortgages don’t seem to make sense in an unequal system that prioritizes profits over humanity. Model UN’s have dealt with homelessness better than the United States.
Wrong! Work shouldn’t be just about earning money as a way to not lose your home. And most workers do wind up losing their homes or cars because of corporate deregulation and a society obsessed with fetishizing billionaires. It’s almost like some folks can’t get aroused without seeing a few zeros in your bank accounts…before the decimal point.
Giving people a home to have less to worry about would mean our society would then be able to spend time, energy & money on coming up with innovative solutions to fix most of our problems. Right now there could be a brilliant Climate scientist homeless on a bus to New Jersey! For fucks sake do we really want to send a potential brilliant person to be stuck in New Jersey, aka Yankee Florida!?
Solutions to homelessness are right at our fingertips and they don’t come from making these people illegal and invisible. It comes from showing them compassion and acting out of logic. Once we do that the profit will automatically follow, if you care about that kind of thing. First thing we need to do is give these people their humanity back by letting them have a home, a sandwich and a beer on us.
Krish Mohan is a socially conscious, Indian standup comedian and writer who regularly tours the country. He performs at small theaters, bars, comedy clubs, colleges, DIY and house venues. With his quirky attitude, charming personality, and intelligent humor, Krish captivates and engages audiences of all backgrounds, tackling hot button topics like race, religion, war, immigration, while adding an optimistic, philosophical & sociological twist!