General Question

pleiades's avatar

Would it be viable for the USA to create a designated town for the homeless where it would be government or private sector funded similar to retirement homes?

Asked by pleiades (6571points) June 4th, 2014

I could see this helping the economy! Homeless people come from all different backgrounds and strifes. Maybe there could be a center where they all work and live in their own community. I’m not talking about providing section 8 within a city but a place where they are indeed homeless. Basically, a place where quitters can go and just live out their lives on the bare minimum of necessities. Within the town there would be something like a work force place and the housing would provide them an address so they can fill out applications for jobs etc.

I’d call this town, or if multiple ones show up in a state “Converter Town” I think the goal would be for these homeless to seek out help in hopes of a transition back into the general public.

This would also clean up the streets in downtowns all across the nation.

Or would this be too messy? None of my thoughts are concrete, I’m merely speculating so please bare with me my notions.

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19 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

~They do It is called Detroit. It sounds like the sanctuary’s from Star Trek Deep Space 9 where Ben Sisko traveled back in time to the rounding up of homeless people into sealed communities.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

Are you really advocating rounding-up homeless people and then shipping them off somewhere? Please reconsider this line of thinking.

Do you consider homeless people to be litter? If not, then how will forcing them off the streets “clean up” the street? Homeless people aren’t responsible for all the litter or all the crime- or even for most of these.

The way to clean up the streets is to literally clean them up. That is, invest in a bunch of street-sweepers and hire people to operate them. Make regular sweeping patrols. You could even hire homeless people (or anyone who’s currently unemployed, there’s no shortage of cheap labor available) to sweep them by hand. Give ‘em all camera phones and they can report crimes in progress.

Do you want clean streets, or do you just want to punish the homeless for being “quitters”? Are you aware of how people usually become homeless, or done any research on the subject at all?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

What you’re talking about is segregating them from the rest of society as a permanent underclass in a concentration subsidized by either private (doubtful) or government money. Somewhere in the Nevada desert perhaps? Where we won’t have to look at them anymore? Someplace they can be swept away to where they won’t inconvenience us with their panhandling and their public urination and their other filthy habits?

I can’t think of a worse idea than this. This does nothing toward solving the problem. On the contrary, it admits defeat and subsidizes failure. And it is just one step away from extermination camps.

This is what needs to be done: There needs to be accessible assessment centers near large homeless populations nationwide where the homeless can stay and be fed while they are assessed for the services they need: Medical care and rehab, mental health care and rehab, including institutionalization if necessary, simple job search assistance, substance abuse rehabilitation, vocational rehabilitation, occupational therapy, further education toward skilled work, help in obtaining their social security retirement income, help connecting to subsidized housing, etc., etc. And then they need to be shunted off to where those services can be obtained—anywhere in the nation where they are available—then as many as possible must eventually be mainstreamed back into society as taxpayers, and the rest appropriately retired on a case by case basis.

zenvelo's avatar

No, because many of the long term homeless do not want to be warehoused somewhere. and to force them into alternative housing is to come up with a fancy term for prison.

ragingloli's avatar

I’d call this town, or if multiple ones show up in a state “Converter Town”
I would call it a Ghetto, or Concentration Camp.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The one thing those on the bottom have in common with those on the top is that neither group wants to be the focus of attention. Now the people you bump into on the streets panhandling, urinating in public and talking to parking meters, they’re the visible tip of the homeless iceberg. They’re equivalent on the other end to Donald Trump or the Kardashians. The real reason that the concentration of the homeless will not be permitted is that such an assemblage would irrefutably demonstrate just how HUGE the numbers are and worse just how easily ordinary people wind up out on their ear. The demand for remedies might prove damned near irresistible, and measures instituted which interfere with the ongoing concentration of wealth in the country; the root cause of the epidemic to begin with.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Let’s see:

-forced movement
-third or fourth-rate dwellings
-no jobs
-no hope
-no plans

what a perfectly horrible idea.

And, by the way, who pays for the construction of the town, and the food people eat?

In your concept, would there be barbed wire and guardposts as well?

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Kinda sounds like a workhouse – Charles Dickens style.

tinyfaery's avatar

Uhh… Like internment camps?


chyna's avatar

I think your heart is in the right place, that you are trying to think of a way to give the homeless a home, but it would never work for the various reasons listed above. I have actually thought along the same lines when I drive by schools, hospitals and other large buildings that are now empty and boarded up and think how useless these buildings are now and why couldn’t they just open them up to give the homeless a place to live.

ibstubro's avatar

The problem with the chronically homeless is that many of them suffer from untreated mental illness. You’re talking about “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” on a grand scale. And what makes you think they would want to live there. We had a guy living under a freaking interstate overpass for over a year in northern Missouri. He was offered regular food if he would pick up around a restaurant. No. A place to live in government housing, free of charge. No. I think we finally wore him out trying to do good, and he moved on.

I agree with @chyna that I believe your heart to be in the right place, but your thoughts weren’t fully formed or thought through.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @Espiritus_Corvus and @ibstubro as well as @chyna
The homeless are not a one size fits all segment of the population. Many are mentally ill, others are alcoholics/addicts, and there are plenty of regular people who were finally pushed over the economic cliff the last handful of years. The senior population of homeless is growing by leaps and bounds as well.

It would be impractical and impossible to lump all the varying needs into some sort of concentration camp for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Those that truly need mental health help would pose a danger to others, and those that have addiction problems ( also mental health issues ) would be a threat to the “normal”, down and out homeless, the seniors, and what about children?

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jca's avatar

So you mean a town of housing projects?

sweet_star's avatar

No, I do not think taxpayers would like this… or at least I dont! I think that comunities should invest time (volunteer) and money (donate) to make a homeless shelter for the homeless, because the only thing I do not like about the homeless is the thought that they might not be able to shower daily, eat, nor sleep in a safe worm place. However, the Government already has many programs to help them, the problem is that many don’t want to seek that help.

I think that if more people would gift them smiles (at least), they would stop feeling demoralized.

If you really want to help, maybe you should start an organization where people could donate clothing, and a shelter with a kitchen and showers. Or buy a bus and transport them to the nearest shelter (and hope that they have space). But most importantly, to help you should definetly stop thinking those Hitler like thoughts! (I do not mean it as an insult, you are just worrying me)

pleiades's avatar

@rexacoracofalipitorius I think you’re taking this way too personal and in the wrong direction. I’m not talking about literally cleaning up the street with sweepers. I’m not sure what city you live in, but I’ve strolled through skidrows of Downtown LA, SF and San Diego. And if you think there isn’t a problem you’re greatly mistaken. I’m not saying they are pests or litter, but bad things can happen, but my point is there is a community of them already, why not have them all be in one town?

Maybe they are not equipped for a capitalistic world and like mentioned have mental illness, there could be a place for help there. A kind of one in all hub. I don’t mean any animosity towards these people what so ever. But if they willingly wanted to check into a place like this, why not? Why force them to have to dig through trashes for cans to make a living in a capitalistic world when clearly, capitalism doesn’t work for all.

Some people don’t agree with me and have been respectful and that’s fine, but I see no better offerings or suggestions. All I see are judgements against my ideas and no help from others. It seems some of you are content with the way the system is now, and I don’t blame you. I won’t lie I’m not comfortable with the current system. We are hunter gatherers, yet we are still judged whether we have the ability to do a capitalistic job and function that way. Maybe, just maybe these “homeless” could seek refuge in a town dedicated to them. It’s a general thought that can be fine tuned of course. For instance perhaps it could be run similarly to an Amish town and where each person functions as a cog for the greater good. True they might have fell on hard times in our current setup… but with the labor required in an Amish style town, the people become self sufficient.

I don’t know. I just try to think about something better for them when I stroll to downtown and see them. Instead of them waiting for “change” (see what I did there?) maybe we could come together and get them on their feet. I don’t know give them some purpose. I’ve talked to plenty of them and I would say 75% are just as adequate as anyone to work but lets face it, they will have an extremely tough time finding a “normal” job with no address.

@elbanditoroso I’d love to hear some of your brilliant and wonderful plans to help the homeless. Sure my wording has been off, but I guarantee you if you smoke some pot with me, it’ll all make sense. You just gotta be open minded.

My next question will be along the lines of, “What can cities do to better mandate the homeless? What new jobs can be created with helping the homeless off the streets? Can we create a safeway home so that these people may have addresses during a time where they are trying to transition from off the streets back into a work force in their said city?”

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

@pleiades I think it’s you who are taking it too personally. I asked you a series of direct questions. You haven’t answered a single one of them. Maybe you don’t like the tone of the questions; that’s fair enough, I don’t like the tone of “a place where quitters can go” or “this would clean up the streets”.

Homelessness has been around for a long time, and for almost all that time people have been thinking about how to fix it. It’s extraordinarily unlikely that your idea, whatever it actually is, is unique in the annals of human thought. It might even be something that has been tried before (look up Christiania, or favelas, or ghettos, for three different interpretations of what someone else might think you meant.) Do some research and you’ll probably find fodder for even more interesting speculations than those which you’ve reached so far.

As you and others have mentioned, homelessness is not a one-size-fits-all problem. Homeless people have exactly one thing in common: they lack housing. The solution to homelessness is to provide homes. The treatment for homelessness is to provide housing. Sound simple? Sure it does ;^)

Coloma's avatar

@rexacoracofalipitorius That is true, the common denominator is lack of housing but, again, the underlying issues are so complex that you can’t just warehouse all facets of the homeless population in one housing project. This would be like trying to keep multiple species of animals in the same habitat. The Lions will prey on the Antelopes and the Elephants will crush the Ducks.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

A concentration camp for the impoverished? No, I don’t think so.

This country has learned, through decades of experience, that segregating the poor has disastrous consequences. If the free market does the job, it creates slums. Housing projects, whether sponsored by government or charity, have the same effect. Isolation creates blighted neighborhoods, high-crime areas, and perpetual hopelessness.

My own city has been using a new approach for about 20 years. Before any developer can get zoning for a new townhouse community or condominium building, it’s required to set aside a certain percentage of units for low-income rentals. Yes, poor people, with subsidized rent, live side-by-side with the people buying $800K homes. Guess what – the approach has been wildly successful. The facilities aren’t crime-ridden, and people co-exist well. Plus, dignity goes a long way; with better situations, the less fortunate are actually able to improve their lives.

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