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Posted (edited)

I wanted to touch on a topic that has been weighing heavy on my mind recently, and I'd like to hear peoples thoughts.

 

It's ironic that I discovered both these posts today. First, I read a somewhat encouraging article from Houston Public Media about a 5% decline in the homeless population from 2018 to 2019. You can read more in the article here: https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/city-of-houston/2019/05/15/333384/homelessness-down-5-in-houston/ . Obviously the stat on mental health spending was a little depressing, but to hear that Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery counties experienced a 54% decline in homelessness since 2011 was surprisingly positive news. 

 

But shortly after that I ventured over to the Houston Reddit to find a post entitled "Walked down Main St. from McGowen to Congress yesterday afternoon", which can be read here: 

 

Simply put, the post did not give me the warm fuzzies, especially since the area in question stretches all the way down Main Street. Sadly, I have seen the sights described in this thread, maybe not so much the smells, but definitely the sights. I've experienced the yelling, the drunkenness, and the tents/garbage lined up under the freeways. Downtown and Midtown are experiencing decent growth and development right now, yet the presence of the homeless continues to linger and in some cases grow. Certainly new development is helping clean some of these areas, but it seems as though these people simply relocate to other areas close by. For example, when I first moved to Houston in 2017, the entrance to 59 South from Richmond looked like any normal feeder. But for the past 6 months it has become overrun with garbage and filth, and this is right across from the Post 510 apartment complex. You can check the Yelp reviews for the place and see the problem is creating negative reviews from the tenants.

 

This isn't the only complex experiencing the issue in the area, and I feel as though it will continue to keep people away from potentially relocating to Midtown and Downtown. But again, I want you guys to tell me your thoughts on the matter. What is the best course of action the city can take to curve this issue? Does anyone living in Midtown/Downtown echo these sentiments and have their own experiences to share? How will this impact the growth of Houston going forward?

 

 

Edited by CaptainJilliams
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Are you really surprised that this is a problem? Almost every major downtown area in the U.S. suffers from the same issue, no matter how much "revitalization" has happened. Where are these folks supposed to go? There's no affordable housing and extremely limited mental health treatment opportunities.

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2 hours ago, gmac said:

Are you really surprised that this is a problem? Almost every major downtown area in the U.S. suffers from the same issue, no matter how much "revitalization" has happened. Where are these folks supposed to go? There's no affordable housing and extremely limited mental health treatment opportunities.

 

No, I’m not surprised too much. Houston’s homeless situation is actually far better than many other major American cities. Of the top 5 most populous, I think you could argue Houston’s in the best situation in terms of managing numbers. And you also read stories about places like San Francisco, which already had a massive homeless population, see a 17% spike from last year to this year.

 

But Houston is primed to have some massive changes take place the next 5-10 years, more specifically the decommissioning of Pierce Elevated and the plan to sink the highway near Downtown and Midtown. Once the projects take place, there will be an inevitable scattering. 

 

And I acknowledge we need more affordable housing/shelters and mental health facilities to assist these people. My question is what part of town could have these facilities and not receive major pushback from nearby residents?

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6 hours ago, CaptainJilliams said:

And I acknowledge we need more affordable housing/shelters and mental health facilities to assist these people. My question is what part of town could have these facilities and not receive major pushback from nearby residents?

 

Those facilities should have been built in or near downtown before they went with the luxury high-rises. Economically disadvantaged folks would likely do better getting on their feet when they are close to the organizations that support them, with decent transportation options.

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18 hours ago, CaptainJilliams said:

 

 

And I acknowledge we need more affordable housing/shelters and mental health facilities to assist these people. My question is what part of town could have these facilities and not receive major pushback from nearby residents?

 

The problem with homeless care is the chance for actually incentivizing homelessness. San Francisco screwed itself over on homelessness by actually having stipends for the homeless for years (even now they're guaranteed a small cash grant monthly, from what I've heard) and other homelessness initiatives to the point where tents are now crowding out sidewalks and the amount of human fecal matter is 10 times more than New York and 21 times than Chicago [https://www.realtyhop.com/blog/doo-doo-the-new-urban-crisis/#figure1], and the "poop maps" are used as political ammunition. 

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14 hours ago, gmac said:

 

Those facilities should have been built in or near downtown before they went with the luxury high-rises. Economically disadvantaged folks would likely do better getting on their feet when they are close to the organizations that support them, with decent transportation options.

 

Disagree.  Those would need a larger subsidy than the high-rises.  I’m glad we got something to build a neighborhood downtown instead of a bunch of homeless facilities.

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Posted (edited)

Statistics are better than Reddit comments. Anecdotes don't really describe reality well. Homelessness could be cut in half and then half again, but there would still be gathering spots and out of millions of people going about their daily life someone would still see one and rant about it online.

 

IMO, the city should do as much as it can to reduce the issue. Nobody wants to feel like they are on the set of the Walking Dead which is how it is in the worst spots and in cities that have the problem worse than Houston. But no matter how hard we try there will always be a little grit, that is just life in the big city.

Edited by zaphod
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21 minutes ago, zaphod said:

Statistics are better than Reddit comments. Anecdotes don't really describe reality well. Homelessness could be cut in half and then half again, but there would still be gathering spots and out of millions of people going about their daily life someone would still see one and rant about it online.

 

IMO, the city should do as much as it can to reduce the issue. Nobody wants to feel like they are on the set of the Walking Dead which is how it is in the worst spots and in cities that have the problem worse than Houston. But no matter how hard we try there will always be a little grit, that is just life in the big city.

 

Very true. It just sucks that these gathering places are in prominent areas of downtown (Main Street, Minute Maid Park) and along pathways that connect Downtown to Midtown, causing people to feel limited in how far they can safely/comfortably walk.

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There are empty beds in facilities all over town every day.  These facilities all share one thing in common:  they have rules.  These rules include “no drugs or alcohol, curfews, and attendance to programs that get you keen, straight, and working.”

 

‘There are vanishingly few “homeless people” on the streets of Houston.  There are a LOT of addicts and mentally ill.  We need to stop using the Euphemism “homeless”  and start calling the problem what it is “addicts and  mentally ill.’  Once we change the language, we can address solutions. 

 

there are two sad truths:

 

1.  The mentally ill likely cannot help themselves and are not suited for many of the the programs that we have in place.  They need a much different suite of help.

2. The addicts literally don’t care to avail themselves of the beds that are available because, well.... those rules just are not for them.......

 

therefore, we have built a system of help around “helping the homeless.”  And, for the few folks out there who have hit a rough spot in their lives, but are not addicts or insane, and simply need help (lost a job, unexpected bill, violence, etc) the system works well.  The charities spring into action and, folks come out the other end healed, blessed, and productive.

 

We don’t have a system for addicts and mentally ill.  If we change the dialogue, if we change the language,  maybe we can change the solutions to fit the problem: drug addiction and mental illness.

 

oh, and Turner is utterly useless.  I will not vote for him as he is unable or unwilling to deal with this problem.  Total hack.  And, yes, somebody should tell the Mayor that the suits he wears (“regulars” when he should be wearing “shorts”) make him look as silly as his inept policies on the drug addicts and mentally ill.  If zoot suits were still in fashion, he might look passable.  Hint:  they aren’t and he doesn’t.

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There are empty beds in facilities all over town every day.

 

Source?

 

Quote

‘There are vanishingly few “homeless people” on the streets of Houston.  There are a LOT of addicts and mentally ill.  We need to stop using the Euphemism “homeless”  and start calling the problem what it is “addicts and  mentally ill.’  Once we change the language, we can address solutions. 

 

It's never clear cut. It's likely that being homelessness triggers or makes otherwise manageable mental disorders that many otherwise "normal" people suffer from worse.

 

Quote

2. The addicts literally don’t care to avail themselves of the beds that are available because, well.... those rules just are not for them.......

 

So why fight it then?

 

It may be easier to get people off the street and into treatment if you stabilize their situation with a stable place to stay. Expecting people who are in a world of shit to turn into a model "deserving poor" person overnight is delusional. At best they aren't in public causing trouble.

 

Quote

 The charities spring into action and, folks come out the other end healed, blessed, and productive. 

 

I wouldn't just assume charities are going to be present and have the right resources. There needs to be some public services that are assured to possess adequate capacity.

 

Quote

 

We don’t have a system for addicts and mentally ill.  If we change the dialogue, if we change the language,  maybe we can change the solutions to fit the problem: drug addiction and mental illness. 


 

 

And what are those solutions, then? Don't leave us hanging.
 

Quote


oh, and Turner is utterly useless.  I will not vote for him as he is unable or unwilling to deal with this problem.  Total hack.  And, yes, somebody should tell the Mayor that the suits he wears (“regulars” when he should be wearing “shorts”) make him look as silly as his inept policies on the drug addicts and mentally ill.  If zoot suits were still in fashion, he might look passable.  Hint:  they aren’t and he doesn’t.

 

 

Turner is the mayor of a city in the state of Texas. He does not have the power to change laws allowing mentally ill people to be committed to institutions. States and the Federal government  is responsible for comprehensive mental health care services.

 

What would a conservative or Republican mayor do about the problem? Abolish the harm reduction programs for ideological reasons despite evidence they work? Just pack the jails full of vagrants until there's no more room for criminals? Shuffle off the problem from visible areas where upper class people dwell and into neighborhoods where the problem is hidden(have you driven on Jensen? It's bum city).

 

I don't understand the Turner hate. None of the people challenging him have ever given any rational policy statements. They just complain about how Turner is doing everything wrong. Ok, what would they do differently?

 

There isn't enough "waste" in government to magically pay firefighters huge salaries and fix all the potholes. Everything would require cuts to other things, robbing peter to pay paul.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Houstonia also has an article on homelessness: https://www.houstoniamag.com/articles/2019/5/17/2019-homelessness-count-houston-harris-county-coalition-for-the-homeless-way-home

 

New Data Shows Promising Decline in Greater Houston Homelessness

2019_Homeless_Count__Comparing_the_Count

 

When the data is arranged visually, it really does look encouraging to see that progressive downward trend!

Edited by CaptainJilliams

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@ zaphood.

 

You and I will need to disagree.  I see things one way, you another.  

 

that said, you asked for a source regarding the empty beds at shelters.  

 

Here is is one source:  https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Cold-facts-about-being-homeless-12495069.php. If the beds aren’t full on the coldest night of the year, then hint; there is always a bed.  Further, I have volunteered at or donated to various charities that serve the homeless, the mentally ill, and the addicts (3 distinct groups of folks).  The managers/directors of the charities I have been involved with again suggest that (paraphrasing) “nobody is turned away and beds go empty”.  Close personal friends of mine who also volunteer at other charities indicate the same thing..... empty beds.....

 

oh, and Turner as inept as his tailoring.  I will find a Democrat or Republican that I can support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Turner is a failure on so many fronts, but I will give him and the city one qualified bit of credit in trying to eliminate the campsites via an ordinance some years back. Apparently a judge found a constitutional right to camp on public rights of ways, so the city stopped enforcement. It appears that they threw in the towel after the judgement though, so my credit stops there.  The idea was part of a larger effort to move these camps away from downtown to minimally restrictive sites with a few basic services to keep the spread of disease to a minimum and keep downtown's trajectory as a place that the rest of us, from dish washers to CEO's, actually want to be. 

 

"Affordable housing" and people living in underpass campsites do not belong in the same discussion.  It's hijacking one visible emotional problem to serve another, completely separate issue. People that can not manage the most basic parts of a social compact are not a subsidized apartment away from benign, but apparently we can't legally institutionalize them or clear out their filth until there is some definitive public health hazard.  There are dozens of private charities in Houston in addition government services that these people are not utilizing. As pointed out, cities with better climates and more generous public services have the problem far worse than Houston, we might want to use that as a marker for our next steps as a city.

 

Panhandling every day around busy pedestrian areas nets enough cash for their addiction/self-medicating on occasion until they are either arrested, taken to a hospital or tragically die on our streets.  This is not compassionate and it's not "grit", it's shameful. 

 

One case in point...

 

 

Edited by Nate99
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26 minutes ago, Nate99 said:

Turner is a failure on so many fronts, but I will give him and the city one qualified bit of credit in trying to eliminate the campsites via an ordinance some years back. Apparently a judge found a constitutional right to camp on public rights of ways, so the city stopped enforcement. It appears that they threw in the towel after the judgement though, so my credit stops there.  The idea was part of a larger effort to move these camps away from downtown to minimally restrictive sites with a few basic services to keep the spread of disease to a minimum and keep downtown's trajectory as a place that the rest of us, from dish washers to CEO's, actually want to be. 

 

"Affordable housing" and people living in underpass campsites do not belong in the same discussion.  It's hijacking one visible emotional problem to serve another, completely separate issue. People that can not manage the most basic parts of a social compact are not a subsidized apartment away from benign, but apparently we can't legally institutionalize them or clear out their filth until there is some definitive public health hazard.  There are dozens of private charities in Houston in addition government services that these people are not utilizing. As pointed out, cities with better climates and more generous public services have the problem far worse than Houston, we might want to use that as a marker for our next steps as a city.

 

Panhandling every day around busy pedestrian areas nets enough cash for their addiction/self-medicating on occasion until they are either arrested, taken to a hospital or tragically die on our streets.  This is not compassionate and it's not "grit", it's shameful. 

 

One case in point...

 

 

I watched that documentary about a month ago.  Really well done and shows what happens when lax laws and red tape hamstring the system meant to help keep this problem from getting so bad.

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It definitely seems better to me. I moved into Midtown in January 2000, lived there until April 2004. Any time day or night I wanted to walk from my apartment into Downtown, I had to pass under the Pierce Elevated and all the homeless camps. Turning all that into fenced parking lots some time after I moved was an obvious solution, one that was about 30 years overdue.

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"Affordable housing" and people living in underpass campsites do not belong in the same discussion.  It's hijacking one visible emotional problem to serve another, completely separate issue. People that can not manage the most basic parts of a social compact are not a subsidized apartment away from benign, but apparently we can't legally institutionalize them or clear out their filth until there is some definitive public health hazar

 

 

Where were these people before they were homeless, or when they were not homeless or in shelters or institutions or jail? Did they live with relatives or friends? A dilapadated motel? Also where do we expect them to go if/when they become clean? Seattle doesn't have an equivalent to Aldine or Cloverleaf, so where are the kind of people living in those wrecked trailers clustered together in the woods living?

 

Also giving them housing doesn't mean we give them full sized apartments. What about some kind of dorm with on-site security?

 

I don't think institutionalization is necessarily the right answer because taking away a person's freedoms is not a casual matter. Think about what it takes to put someone in prison, and those are criminals who actually hurt someone. You want to give someone a life sentence behind bars just because they were a public nuisance? How would you enforce these rules and apply 'strikes' against a person leading to them being locked up? Sounds like something that could be abused or subject to bias. If we are going to put people in institutions then their liberties must only be restricted by the absolute minimum degree necessary, with frequent reviews where the restrictions would be lifted. Instead of imprisoning people in mental wards what about hybrid outpatient options where people aren't locked up?

 

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On 5/21/2019 at 10:50 AM, Reefmonkey said:

It definitely seems better to me. I moved into Midtown in January 2000, lived there until April 2004. Any time day or night I wanted to walk from my apartment into Downtown, I had to pass under the Pierce Elevated and all the homeless camps. Turning all that into fenced parking lots some time after I moved was an obvious solution, one that was about 30 years overdue.

I am glad that you feel that midtown is better.  

 

I have lived in downtown for 5 years and I can say that it is significantly worse today than 5 years ago.

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19 hours ago, zaphod said:

 

 

Where were these people before they were homeless, or when they were not homeless or in shelters or institutions or jail? Did they live with relatives or friends? A dilapadated motel? Also where do we expect them to go if/when they become clean? Seattle doesn't have an equivalent to Aldine or Cloverleaf, so where are the kind of people living in those wrecked trailers clustered together in the woods living?

 

Also giving them housing doesn't mean we give them full sized apartments. What about some kind of dorm with on-site security?

 

I don't think institutionalization is necessarily the right answer because taking away a person's freedoms is not a casual matter. Think about what it takes to put someone in prison, and those are criminals who actually hurt someone. You want to give someone a life sentence behind bars just because they were a public nuisance? How would you enforce these rules and apply 'strikes' against a person leading to them being locked up? Sounds like something that could be abused or subject to bias. If we are going to put people in institutions then their liberties must only be restricted by the absolute minimum degree necessary, with frequent reviews where the restrictions would be lifted. Instead of imprisoning people in mental wards what about hybrid outpatient options where people aren't locked up?

 

 

I didn't mean to imply that institutionalization was the answer, just that it's not even an option until they do something worse than chronically ruin others' property.   A reasonable expectation might be to use sites like what the city proposed, but it's not enough of a draw because it has some restrictions and/or they can't get cash for drugs as easily. Seattle, Los Angeles, Vancouver (BC), and San Francisco have provided varying levels of housing and that just attracts more people away from the Aldines and Cloverleafs across the US and Canada.  One can live quite cheaply in all kinds of places if you don't cause trouble, but access to drugs is fairly limited off in the sticks, and it's even harder to panhandle to the wildlife.  

 

There are better/safer options already available for these people, but they can't hold it together long enough to use them.  The secured dorm model is the shelter model that we have, and these people don't want that, unless you want to relax the rules, which I don't get the impression is at all workable, but maybe there is a middle ground. 

 

Peripheral personal experience and reading anecdotes are really all I have to go on, but I get the impression that people may end up in shelters for a short period of time due to bad luck, but unless they press that bad luck with addiction or mental health issues, they find somewhere to subsist off the streets, and there are a lot of resources to help people do that. If these programs are successful but overwhelmed, by all means, lets do more of that. But in the other case, it can be a full time job of a couple of people to keep just one person with addiction and/or mental health issues from harming themselves. That's a ton of resources, and the more resources cities use to provide accommodation, comparatively, the worse the local problem seems to get, and that's just easy economics.  

 

It's another one of those "hearts and minds" type issues that I think you have to fix over generations, but the drivers that land people on the streets seem to be getting worse, not better.  As you point out, prison is very expensive and not at all proportional to the crimes committed, but literally crapping on the city is something I would start making compromises to individual liberties to address, but anything can be abused.   No easy answers when people have nothing to lose. Maybe there are more success stories out there, lots of different cities dealing with this in different ways. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/22/2019 at 8:33 PM, UtterlyUrban said:

I am glad that you feel that midtown is better.  

 

I have lived in downtown for 5 years and I can say that it is significantly worse today than 5 years ago.

On what do your base your opinion that it is worse? I'm looking at the statistics, which show that homeless numbers have significantly decreased over the last several years. This comes from the Coalition for the Homeless's 2018 report on the Point-in-Time Homeless Count & Survey for the Houston area, which is required by HUD. It shows a 51% decrease in overall homelessness since 2011, and a 63% decrease in unsheltered homelessness in that time. There has been a slight uptick since Harvey, but it's still significantly lower than it was 5 years ago.

Edited by Reefmonkey

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7 minutes ago, Reefmonkey said:

On what do your base your opinion that it is worse? I'm looking at the statistics, which show that homeless numbers have significantly decreased over the last several years. This comes from the Coalition for the Homeless's 2018 report on the Point-in-Time Homeless Count & Survey for the Houston area, which is required by HUD. It shows a 51% decrease in overall homelessness since 2011, and a 63% decrease in unsheltered homelessness in that time. There has been a slight uptick since Harvey, but it's still lower than it was 5 years ago.

 

I don't want to speak for @UtterlyUrban, but I think I may know what he means.

 

In the past 2-3 years since I've lived in Houston, and again, this is just my personal experience (no real way to quantify anything), I've noticed an increased aggression in panhandlers in my most recent ventures downtown. Now I'm not sure if it's just desperation, mental health issues, withdrawal from drugs or all of the above, but I've been called out by people on the streets asking if I can give them money. No conversation starters, no small talk, just straight to the point. It's uncomfortable and it's difficult when you have to navigate strategically around them as you walk through town. You could look at this situation, again, as a norm in most major cities, in fact we probably have it easy down here. But with a growing downtown population, many of whom have families, I'm sure many of them do not look favorably on the situation when those who are homeless congregate in areas of high activity (Market Square, Minute Maid Park, Main Street, etc.)

 

Also, the tent cities keep shifting locations after each city clean-up, and recently they've moved to more visible locations.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, CaptainJilliams said:

 

I don't want to speak for @UtterlyUrban, but I think I may know what he means.

 

In the past 2-3 years since I've lived in Houston, and again, this is just my personal experience (no real way to quantify anything), I've noticed an increased aggression in panhandlers in my most recent ventures downtown. Now I'm not sure if it's just desperation, mental health issues, withdrawal from drugs or all of the above, but I've been called out by people on the streets asking if I can give them money. No conversation starters, no small talk, just straight to the point. It's uncomfortable and it's difficult when you have to navigate strategically around them as you walk through town. You could look at this situation, again, as a norm in most major cities, in fact we probably have it easy down here. But with a growing downtown population, many of whom have families, I'm sure many of them do not look favorably on the situation when those who are homeless congregate in areas of high activity (Market Square, Minute Maid Park, Main Street, etc.)

 

Also, the tent cities keep shifting locations after each city clean-up, and recently they've moved to more visible locations.

 

I get it, it sucks to have to deal with it on a daily basis, I remember it well. Just trying to walk to stores from my apartments down there in the early 00s I was constantly being pursued by aggressive panhandlers, and I do mean pursued, I had them shout at me from a block away, and start following me, it was spooky. I remember shopping in that Randall's in midtown when it was all shiny and new and being accosted by a panhandler in the frozen food section. When I lived in the Camden Midtown circa 2003, across from the Cadillac dealership, my view from my 2nd story balcony was of the homeless woman who wore plastic grocery bags for socks and always sat on the bench right below me. Couldn't even be free of their badgering when I was in my own apartment - one sunny Saturday afternoon I was grilling on my little hibachi out on my balcony and a homeless person (can't remember if it was her or another one) calling up to me for money. I haven't lived there in 15 years, but I do go down there a lot on weekends, park and walk around, eat at restaurants, shop, etc, and it's a lot better than it was 15 years ago. There is so much more development and activity now than there was back then, homeless people can't exist there in the concentrations they did back then, and when you get hit up by a homeless person on a busy street with a lot of other normal people, and a lot of brightly lit businesses, it's a lot less threatening than when it is just you and a homeless person on the lonely street between your apartment and the nearest store. And the corridor between midtown and downtown under the Pierce Elevated back then, having to pass through a Hooverville, it was a real psychological barrier between the Fourth Ward and the First Ward. Making that area gated parking was great. Again, it sucks when you're dealng with it on a daily basis, and I understand how that is going to affect someone's perspective, and I am sure there are certain times and certain areas where things get to be more like they used to be for a while, but from a longer perspective of 20 years, it looks much better overall.

Edited by Reefmonkey
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The big problem downtown started when they closed the Midtown Sears store because that's where major homeless camps were.

You can't keep shuffling homeless from one part of town to another, what they need is affordable housing near transportation centers.

 

 

Houston's problem isn't nearly as bad as LA or San Francisco- you have to make 350k a year to afford a house in SF. Housing out there is super expensive, and it's going to be that way here soon. 
 

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1 hour ago, Reefmonkey said:

 

I get it, it sucks to have to deal with it on a daily basis, I remember it well. Just trying to walk to stores from my apartments down there in the early 00s I was constantly being pursued by aggressive panhandlers, and I do mean pursued, I had then shout at me from a block away, and start following me, it was spooky. I remember shopping in that Randall's in midtown when it was all shiny and new and being accosted by a panhandler in the frozen food section. When I lived in the Camden Midtown circa 2003, across from the Cadillac dealership, my view from my 2nd story balcony was of the homeless woman who wore plastic grocery bags for socks and always sat on the bench right below me. Couldn't even be free of their badgering when I was in my own apartment - one sunny Saturday afternoon I was grilling on my little hibachi out on my balcony and a homeless person (can't remember if it was her or another one) calling up to me for money. I haven't lived there in 15 years, but I do go down there a lot on weekends, park and walk around, eat at restaurants, shop, etc, and it's a lot better than it was 15 years ago. There is so much more development and activity now than there was back then, homeless people can't exist there in the concentrations they did back then, and when you get hit up by a homeless person on a busy street with a lot of other normal people, and a lot of brightly lit businesses, it's a lot less threatening than when it is just you and a homeless person on the lonely street between your apartment and the nearest store. And the corridor between midtown and downtown under the Pierce Elevated back then, having to pass through a Hooverville, it was a real psychological barrier between the Fourth Ward and the First Ward. Making that area gated parking was great. Again, it sucks when you're dealng with it on a daily basis, and I understand how that is going to affect someone's perspective, and I am sure there are certain times and certain areas where things get to be more like they used to be for a while, but from a longer perspective of 20 years, it looks much better overall.

 

Well, it's certainly encouraging to hear a perspective from someone who has been here longer than me and has seen the improvement firsthand. I'm hoping continued Downtown and Midtown development will create greater connectivity and community, decreasing blight and the areas where people have been gathering. I'm also hoping the Pierce Elevated rebuild along with the sinking of 69 near downtown helps break up more tent cities. 

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2 hours ago, CaptainJilliams said:

 

I don't want to speak for @UtterlyUrban, but I think I may know what he means.

 

In the past 2-3 years since I've lived in Houston, and again, this is just my personal experience (no real way to quantify anything), I've noticed an increased aggression in panhandlers in my most recent ventures downtown. Now I'm not sure if it's just desperation, mental health issues, withdrawal from drugs or all of the above, but I've been called out by people on the streets asking if I can give them money. No conversation starters, no small talk, just straight to the point. It's uncomfortable and it's difficult when you have to navigate strategically around them as you walk through town. You could look at this situation, again, as a norm in most major cities, in fact we probably have it easy down here. But with a growing downtown population, many of whom have families, I'm sure many of them do not look favorably on the situation when those who are homeless congregate in areas of high activity (Market Square, Minute Maid Park, Main Street, etc.)

 

Also, the tent cities keep shifting locations after each city clean-up, and recently they've moved to more visible locations.

Generally correct.  The addicts (again, using my preferred nomenclature:  they are not homeless.....they are addicts) are both more prevalent downtown AND far more aggressive.  I have been yelled at, cursed at, and  called a racist, and a pig,  by addicts for simply saying a polite  “no” to their aggressive request for money to buy “food” (a euphemism for “my drug of choice”).  I have seen entire families(mom, Dad, small kids) verbally accosted by the addicts.

 

Want an image?  imagine this:  a middle aged woman of Hispanic ethnicity getting off a bus wearing a uniform that would imply that she works at a chain restaurant.  She was going to work.  She also had a completely withered arm (birth defect?) and walked with a pronounced limp.  But, she was going to work to support herself and her family.  Then the addict started to harass her, scream at her .....  call her terrible things....when she said ‘no’ to his request for “money for food”  She was visibly shaken.  I hustled over to her, told the ADDICT to beat it and helped the woman across the street.  She was thankful.

 

downtown is my neighborhood.  I live here.  Turner has fixed zip in my neighborhood.  Any bets what would happen if the 100 addicts that populate the streets of downtown where magically transported to the residential streets of Turners neighborhood to set up their tents, do their drugs, harass hardworking women for money, and ask all the pedestrians/residents in Turners neighborhood for money too every time they walked outside?

 

hint:  turner would figure out a way to fix the problem if it existed in HIS neighborhood.  But, it doesn’t.  So, it only gets worse in downtown. Turner won’t get my vote.

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Which section of downtown is this in? I'm curious because I had never seen anything that digressive in south downtown (where I lived for 6 years) or on the main street corridor

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i have had an office downtown for over 16 years.  I really haven't seen any significant change in the homeless population other than changes in where they congregate (which is mostly due to the location of soup kitchens, where mobile services drop off food and redevelopment of buildings that used to be spots to sleep at night like the Le Meridien).  I think there are more visible homeless encampments because a lot of vacant property in and around downtown and inside the loop has been redeveloped or just torn down.  So, the squatters have nowhere to go and are forced into the various tent encampments.  


I think this article is a pretty good analysis of the causes behind homelessness in the US.  I have always thought that there should be a federal housing assistance program to provide rent or mortgage payments for a period of time when people lose a job.  On occasion, I have had to go to JP court and had to sit through the eviction docket.  I would say that 75% of the people who show up tell the judge they lost their job or got hurt/sick and missed a lot of work.  Compared to the costs of incarceration, rehab, and other social services that are needed to deal with homeless, paying someone's rent or mortgage for a while to give them a chance to get back on their feet seems like a very inexpensive way to prevent a lot of homelessness.  It would also be a good way to promote affordable housing because landlords would save a ton of money not having to deal with so many evictions and could keep rents low and afford to build new units.  

 

 

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/homeless-utah-end-america-salt-lake-city_n_5cd1cac0e4b04e275d511aba

 

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I have worked downtown for essentially my entire adult life, and I've been out and about a couple of times a week in the evening for pretty much that entire time.  Yes, there are a number of mentally ill people and those with substance problems who don't have anywhere else to go - I'll defer to whoever is doing some actual counting about whether it's more or less than some other point in time.  However, unlike during the 80s and early 90s, I generally feel safe walking at pretty much any time.  Redoing the Texaco building took out the last of the public pissoirs (the Rice was even worse when it was vacant).  In my experience, a dose of situation awareness coupled with following Miss Manners' advice and responding to panhandlers with a shake of the head and a quiet "sorry" without breaking stride generally works pretty well.

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3 hours ago, UtterlyUrban said:

Generally correct.  The addicts (again, using my preferred nomenclature:  they are not homeless.....they are addicts) are both more prevalent downtown AND far more aggressive.  I have been yelled at, cursed at, and  called a racist, and a pig,  by addicts for simply saying a polite  “no” to their aggressive request for money to buy “food” (a euphemism for “my drug of choice”).  I have seen entire families(mom, Dad, small kids) verbally accosted by the addicts.

 

Want an image?  imagine this:  a middle aged woman of Hispanic ethnicity getting off a bus wearing a uniform that would imply that she works at a chain restaurant.  She was going to work.  She also had a completely withered arm (birth defect?) and walked with a pronounced limp.  But, she was going to work to support herself and her family.  Then the addict started to harass her, scream at her .....  call her terrible things....when she said ‘no’ to his request for “money for food”  She was visibly shaken.  I hustled over to her, told the ADDICT to beat it and helped the woman across the street.  She was thankful.

 

downtown is my neighborhood.  I live here.  Turner has fixed zip in my neighborhood.  Any bets what would happen if the 100 addicts that populate the streets of downtown where magically transported to the residential streets of Turners neighborhood to set up their tents, do their drugs, harass hardworking women for money, and ask all the pedestrians/residents in Turners neighborhood for money too every time they walked outside?

 

hint:  turner would figure out a way to fix the problem if it existed in HIS neighborhood.  But, it doesn’t.  So, it only gets worse in downtown. Turner won’t get my vote.

Just what do you think Turner can do? He can't lock up the aggressive panhandlers, he can't make the tent livers move into any sort of housing, heck, every time he has the City workers clean up an area of trash and biological waste, the freaking do gooders claim he's trying to kill the homeless. If you think King or Buzbee will do any better, you are deluded.

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16 hours ago, UtterlyUrban said:

 

 

hint:  turner would figure out a way to fix the problem if it existed in HIS neighborhood.  But, it doesn’t.  So, it only gets worse in downtown. Turner won’t get my vote.

 

The city has tried, but ACLU keeps trying to block them

https://www.khou.com/article/news/local/judge-rules-on-houstons-homeless-encampment-issue/285-503062539

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On 5/21/2019 at 8:19 AM, Nate99 said:

Turner is a failure on so many fronts, but I will give him and the city one qualified bit of credit in trying to eliminate the campsites via an ordinance some years back. Apparently a judge found a constitutional right to camp on public rights of ways, so the city stopped enforcement. It appears that they threw in the towel after the judgement though, so my credit stops there.  The idea was part of a larger effort to move these camps away from downtown to minimally restrictive sites with a few basic services to keep the spread of disease to a minimum and keep downtown's trajectory as a place that the rest of us, from dish washers to CEO's, actually want to be. 

 

"Affordable housing" and people living in underpass campsites do not belong in the same discussion.  It's hijacking one visible emotional problem to serve another, completely separate issue. People that can not manage the most basic parts of a social compact are not a subsidized apartment away from benign, but apparently we can't legally institutionalize them or clear out their filth until there is some definitive public health hazard.  There are dozens of private charities in Houston in addition government services that these people are not utilizing. As pointed out, cities with better climates and more generous public services have the problem far worse than Houston, we might want to use that as a marker for our next steps as a city.

 

Panhandling every day around busy pedestrian areas nets enough cash for their addiction/self-medicating on occasion until they are either arrested, taken to a hospital or tragically die on our streets.  This is not compassionate and it's not "grit", it's shameful. 

 

One case in point...

 

 

 

I just saw this! Fantastic video.

 

Particularly the "MAT" program. For the few homeless we do have this would be an potential game changer in solving the issue. This idea of combining Prisons into Medical treatment centers is interesting and could be the solution.

 

I also agree with the reporter. "Compassion", as a term, has been warped and twisted for a long time, which once meant to be a kind of tough love, has now devolved into apathy. Its gone from a word that inspires intervention to a word that inspires ignorance. Compassion was once an engaging word or active word, and now its become one of disengaging or passive. Compassion used to be used to try and make people into better versions of themselves, and now its used to "just accept people for the way they are", to "just be yourself", and "you are great just the way they are".

 

...yeah I'm sure the people that do wander those streets are "great just the way they are".

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Just spent a week in Chicago and interacting with homeless in their downtown vs ours is a cakewalk.  Most of the homeless there had signs or asked if I could spare any change without being aggressive.  Does anyone know of any specific policy or unspoken rule as to how Chicago has panhandlers everywhere but they don't make traversing downtown unbearable?  

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22 hours ago, BeerNut said:

Just spent a week in Chicago and interacting with homeless in their downtown vs ours is a cakewalk.  Most of the homeless there had signs or asked if I could spare any change without being aggressive.  Does anyone know of any specific policy or unspoken rule as to how Chicago has panhandlers everywhere but they don't make traversing downtown unbearable?  

 

I don't know of any specific policy. Also, I would differ on Chicago v. Houston homelessness. I would say Chicago is worse. Keep in mind there needs to be a distinction. Like illigal immigrant v. legal immigrant. True homeless people, that is people/families without a home but want one, are different from people who chose to live on the streets for all sorts of reasons. Of the latter, I would say it is far worse in Chicago. The CTA subway stations in downtown are absolutely disgusting and filled with many aggressive panhandlers. My wife and I made the mistake last month of taking the blue line from the downtown subway station. We had a baby stroller with us, so we needed to take the elevator down to reach the platform. The stench of urine on the elevator was pungent. Once on the CTA train, the amount of panhandlers and just plain cray people is unlike anything in Houston. 

Also, if you were here last week, then you may have not seen that many because it's still cold up here. We were in the low 50s this morning. Last weeks I remember some days being in the 40s. Point is, they come out more in the warmer summer months. 

You have to be very situationally aware on Chicago's CTA bus and subway/El lines. It's so bad there's a new tv show about the Red Line. https://www.cbs.com/shows/the-red-line/

 

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Yeah it was still cool enough to need a jacket.   I didn't ride any buses but did use the subway/El lines to get around.  I spent most of my time inside Chicago Loop except when I ventured out to a different neighborhood.   Did have an interaction with this guy faking being mentally disabled pushing a walker on the subway.  After everyone ignored him he grabbed his walker and ran to the next car when the subway stopped, silent car erupted in laughter.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, BeerNut said:

Yeah it was still cool enough to need a jacket.   I didn't ride any buses but did use the subway/El lines to get around.  I spent most of my time inside Chicago Loop except when I ventured out to a different neighborhood.   Did have an interaction with this guy faking being mentally disabled pushing a walker on the subway.  After everyone ignored him he grabbed his walker and ran to the next car when the subway stopped, silent car erupted in laughter.

 

Speaking of homelessness and faking disabilities, they recently arrested a homeless man who punched an elderly lady outside of HEB on Buffalo Speedway:

https://www.click2houston.com/news/homeless-man-accused-of-punching-woman-outside-h-e-b-arrested-charged

 

The guy was sitting in a wheelchair and just gets up and pushes it away after he hits the woman. I'm not sure if he was trying to fake disability or if he just wanted a seat to panhandle. From reading the article it sounds like he has a history of unprovoked assault having been arrested 3-4 times for it. 

 

That being said, I shop at this HEB frequently and really haven't seen any panhandlers outside of I-59 nearby. 

Edited by CaptainJilliams

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For context, the link a few posts above regarding the ACLU injunction is referring to Kohr v. City of Houston, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212428.

 

The ACLU has a page dedicated to the case https://www.aclutx.org/en/cases/tammy-kohr-et-al-vs-city-houston

 

Especially useful (if you're a panhandler) is their "Houston Encampment Know Your Rights Flyer"  https://www.aclutx.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/houston_encampment_kyr_w_rj_logo.pdf

 

In my opinion I actually think the Mayor is doing a good job on this issue. The city attorneys office is actually making legal headwinds against the ACLU. In the case above the judge denied the injunction while the case is allowed to proceed to trial. 

 

For further context, ever since Pottinger v. city of Miami, the ACLU has tried to apply its winning argument in as many jurisdictions as possible including Texas. Keep in mind it is not a supreme court case, just a case from Florida. However, it's been relied upon by many other jurisdictions. Essentially Pottinger says that anti-homeless ordinances are unconstitutional because they punish involuntary conduct that necessarily arises from an immutable status (being homeless). 

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7 hours ago, 102IAHexpress said:

For context, the link a few posts above regarding the ACLU injunction is referring to Kohr v. City of Houston, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212428.

 

The ACLU has a page dedicated to the case https://www.aclutx.org/en/cases/tammy-kohr-et-al-vs-city-houston

 

Especially useful (if you're a panhandler) is their "Houston Encampment Know Your Rights Flyer"  https://www.aclutx.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/houston_encampment_kyr_w_rj_logo.pdf

 

In my opinion I actually think the Mayor is doing a good job on this issue. The city attorneys office is actually making legal headwinds against the ACLU. In the case above the judge denied the injunction while the case is allowed to proceed to trial. 

 

For further context, ever since Pottinger v. city of Miami, the ACLU has tried to apply its winning argument in as many jurisdictions as possible including Texas. Keep in mind it is not a supreme court case, just a case from Florida. However, it's been relied upon by many other jurisdictions. Essentially Pottinger says that anti-homeless ordinances are unconstitutional because they punish involuntary conduct that necessarily arises from an immutable status (being homeless). 

 

Good info, thanks. 

 

Interesting that the "immutable" angle gets any traction when the City is offering them an alternative location. 

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We give them free food, showers, clothes. Why should they want to do anything at all? If they collect cans or stand on a corner, they can get enough to buy the things that Star of Hope and others don’t give them. We make it easy. 

Put them in a camp, make them perform 20 hours of community service, give something back for all the charity that they take. Yeah, yeah: I’m the as$hole for saying it but I stand by what I said. 

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9 hours ago, chrispy said:

We give them free food, showers, clothes. Why should they want to do anything at all? 

 

It's a dilemma. If communities try to help by making the camps more "livable" you discourage the homeless from trying to improve their situation. Do nothing and you run the risk of them pitching a tent in front of your lawn/or crapping on your lawn.

There is an article in the LA Times today discussing the blowback from taxpayers on the costs of providing mobile toilets for homeless people.

https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-homeless-bathroom-restroom-feces-skid-row-pit-stop-20190610-story.html

 

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9 hours ago, 102IAHexpress said:

 

It's a dilemma. If communities try to help by making the camps more "livable" you discourage the homeless from trying to improve their situation. Do nothing and you run the risk of them pitching a tent in front of your lawn/or crapping on your lawn.

There is an article in the LA Times today discussing the blowback from taxpayers on the costs of providing mobile toilets for homeless people.

https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-homeless-bathroom-restroom-feces-skid-row-pit-stop-20190610-story.html

 

 

Interesting article and it gives some of the costs of alternatives. Not surprisingly, the main cost driver is staffing because apparently, unsupervised toilets get trashed and/or people get attacked in them. 

 

Seems like the kind of thing that should be prosecuted.

 

The phrasing of LA times pop-up ad at the end of that particular article was unfortunate.  Let's see, skyrocketing homelss too violent to manage a public toilet...

 

 

Capture.PNG

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1 hour ago, Nate99 said:

 

Interesting article and it gives some of the costs of alternatives. Not surprisingly, the main cost driver is staffing because apparently, unsupervised toilets get trashed and/or people get attacked in them. 

 

Seems like the kind of thing that should be prosecuted.

 

The phrasing of LA times pop-up ad at the end of that particular article was unfortunate.  Let's see, skyrocketing homelss too violent to manage a public toilet...

 

 

Capture.PNG

 

It gets even worse when you read articles saying the following:

https://www.dailywire.com/news/47888/bubonic-plague-likely-already-present-los-angeles-joseph-curl

 

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/06/04/los-angeles-homeless-population-up-12-amid-affordable-housing-crisis/1336734001/

 

I've seen skid row, but I never realized how bad the problem was in Los Angeles. The threat of medieval diseases mixed with a growing population spells trouble for the city. 

 

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On 6/4/2019 at 11:21 PM, 102IAHexpress said:

For context, the link a few posts above regarding the ACLU injunction is referring to Kohr v. City of Houston, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212428.

 

The ACLU has a page dedicated to the case https://www.aclutx.org/en/cases/tammy-kohr-et-al-vs-city-houston

 

Especially useful (if you're a panhandler) is their "Houston Encampment Know Your Rights Flyer"  https://www.aclutx.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/houston_encampment_kyr_w_rj_logo.pdf

 

In my opinion I actually think the Mayor is doing a good job on this issue. The city attorneys office is actually making legal headwinds against the ACLU. In the case above the judge denied the injunction while the case is allowed to proceed to trial. 

 

For further context, ever since Pottinger v. city of Miami, the ACLU has tried to apply its winning argument in as many jurisdictions as possible including Texas. Keep in mind it is not a supreme court case, just a case from Florida. However, it's been relied upon by many other jurisdictions. Essentially Pottinger says that anti-homeless ordinances are unconstitutional because they punish involuntary conduct that necessarily arises from an immutable status (being homeless). 

 

Thanks for those references.  To be clear, the court in Pottinger did not base its opinion on homelessness being an immutable status (and it would have been foolish to do so; homelessness is not an immutable status).

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, CaptainJilliams said:

 

It gets even worse when you read articles saying the following:

https://www.dailywire.com/news/47888/bubonic-plague-likely-already-present-los-angeles-joseph-curl

 

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/06/04/los-angeles-homeless-population-up-12-amid-affordable-housing-crisis/1336734001/

 

I've seen skid row, but I never realized how bad the problem was in Los Angeles. The threat of medieval diseases mixed with a growing population spells trouble for the city. 

 

 

Saw this while watching some of Tim Pool's videos (whom I've come to rely on for news from a Left perspective, Defranco from the Center, and Shapiro for the Right). Tim Pool said it right in one of his videos about these problems; essentially its not necessarily because California is Left or favors more social democratic policies its that they implement it in a lazy and corrupt fashion. Some social democratic policies can be very useful if implemented correctly and per the context of the state (Cali is trying to be a Denmark or Sweden, but its a vastly different economy and people). What he also hits home from discussing such topics is that Cali is suffering from a lack of political competition or a lack of competition from differing viewpoints that can help balance the scales a bit (I dare say a "diversity" of opinion). Here was one video where he goes more into this:

 

 

2 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

 

Thanks for those references.  To be clear, the court in Pottinger did not base its opinion on homelessness being an immutable status (and it would have been foolish to do so; homelessness is not an immutable status).

 

In other words the ACLU exhibits what has come to be called the "bigotry of low expectations". It would be dangerous and idiotic to claim that homeless is "immutable". To say it is would be to subscribe to the "bigotry of low expectations" that those who are homeless will forever be homeless. In a sense the "false" compassion that I stated prior.

 

All of these things yall have discuss are great though. I'll have to look into this particular court case at some point and have a look. Great info.

Edited by Luminare
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11 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

 

Thanks for those references.  To be clear, the court in Pottinger did not base its opinion on homelessness being an immutable status (and it would have been foolish to do so; homelessness is not an immutable status).

 

To be clear it did. "In sum, class members rarely choose to be homeless. They become homeless due to a variety of factors that are beyond their control. In addition, plaintiffs do not have the choice, much less the luxury, of being in the privacy of their own homes. Because of the unavailability of low-income housing or alternative shelter, plaintiffs have no choice but to conduct involuntary, life-sustaining activities in public places. The harmless conduct for which they are arrested is inseparable from their involuntary condition of being homeless. Consequently, arresting homeless people for harmless acts they are forced to perform in public effectively punishes them for being homeless." Pottinger v. Miami, 810 F. Supp. 1551, 1564 (S.D. Fla. 1992)

 

To be clearer, ever since Robinson v. California, status offenses have been unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. That is, criminalizing someone for who they are and not what they do. 

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12 hours ago, 102IAHexpress said:

 

To be clear it did. "In sum, class members rarely choose to be homeless. They become homeless due to a variety of factors that are beyond their control. In addition, plaintiffs do not have the choice, much less the luxury, of being in the privacy of their own homes. Because of the unavailability of low-income housing or alternative shelter, plaintiffs have no choice but to conduct involuntary, life-sustaining activities in public places. The harmless conduct for which they are arrested is inseparable from their involuntary condition of being homeless. Consequently, arresting homeless people for harmless acts they are forced to perform in public effectively punishes them for being homeless." Pottinger v. Miami, 810 F. Supp. 1551, 1564 (S.D. Fla. 1992)

 

To be clearer, ever since Robinson v. California, status offenses have been unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. That is, criminalizing someone for who they are and not what they do. 

 

 

This seems like a good place to post the definition of "immutable":

 

Dictionary.com:  not mutable; unchangeable; changeless.

 

Merriam-Websternot capable of or susceptible to change.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Houston19514 said:

 

 

This seems like a good place to post the definition of "immutable":

 

Dictionary.com:  not mutable; unchangeable; changeless.

 

Merriam-Websternot capable of or susceptible to change.

 

 

 

 

 

And this is a good place to post the actual City of Houston Case...

 

Quote

The plaintiffs have failed to establish a substantial likelihood of success on the merits. The plaintiffs maintain that §§ 21-61 to 21-62 of the encampment ordinance violate their Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, as applicable through the Fourteenth Amendment, because it punishes persons by virtue of their "homeless" status. As support for their position, the plaintiffs rely upon Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660, 666, 82 S. Ct. 1417, 8 L. Ed. 2d 758 (1962) as well as Pottinger v. City of Miami, 810 F. Supp. 1551 (S.D. Fla. 1992), for the proposition that the ordinance is unconstitutional because it punishes involuntary conduct that necessarily arises from immutable status.

Kohr v. City of Houston, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212428, *9, 2017 WL 6619336 (S.D. Tex. December 28, 2017)

 

Good try. It's fun to play an attorney sometimes. If you enjoy it, look into going to law school? 

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1 hour ago, 102IAHexpress said:

 

And this is a good place to post the actual City of Houston Case...

 

 

Good try. It's fun to play an attorney sometimes. If you enjoy it, look into going to law school? 

 

Odd that you chose to end your quote right there.  The very next words in the Houston case:  "This Court does not agree." 

 

A plaintiff attorney's misuse of a word does not change the word's meaning.  Or perhaps the attorney really believes that homelessness is an immutable status (once homeless, forever homeless).

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@Houston19514 The "plaintiff's" attorneys as you call them are the ACLU. Whatever I think of their politics, they are clearly more versed in the law than you. They made the immutable status argument. They based it on years of precedent. It's not fake news. I didn't make it up. You can check. The internet exists for free. Can we move on "counselor?" 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, 102IAHexpress said:

@Houston19514 The "plaintiff's" attorneys as you call them are the ACLU. Whatever I think of their politics, they are clearly more versed in the law than you. They made the immutable status argument. They based it on years of precedent. It's not fake news. I didn't make it up. You can check. The internet exists for free. Can we move on "counselor?" 

 

 

 

LOL  Yes, they made the argument (drawing invalid conclusions from the Florida case and misusing the word "immutable"...   Whatever the ACLU's expertise, it is a simple matter of fact that homelessness is NOT an immutable condition.)

 

And the Court shot the argument down.  They LOST.

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When you decide to go to law school, you can take a course on equitable relief. After that, you will understand, that they haven't "lost." The case is still PENDING. Personally, I hope they do lose. It will be great for the city. However, they have clearly been winning all across the country, see, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, etc...

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