Charging Rent To The Homeless

Here’s a new twist on just how far we as a society go to wring the very last penny out of some of our most destitute:

CNN covered the issue of New York”s decision to charge rent to the homeless staying in shelters – but only if they’re working.  It’s a perfect storm of bur-idiocy (translation: bureaucratic idiocy, a coin termed by a former hard-working bureaucrat – namely, Doc Gurley). First, it has the gut-punch of punishing those who do the right thing (struggle to

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work while homeless, often with kids to care for simultaneously). Second, it has the Law-of-Unintended-Consequences poorly-thought-out result of encouraging “failure.” Finally, it has a double outrage factor – a) who doesn’t see that this move means that it will take every working person even LONGER to move out of the shelter and into permanent housing? The biggest obstacle to most working homeless is the overwhelming barrier of saving first-last-security deposits. We’ve taken families in limbo and trapped them there longer. Plus we have b) the outrage  that someone’s being charged to stay (with their kids) in this type of permanent-temporary place. Why is that an outrage? Spend a night in any shelter, however well run, and I dare you to tell me someone should have to PAY to stay there. What? You don’t think communal snoring, mandatory day-time-evictions, lack of basic OSHA standards for minimal housing regs, oh, and constant infections from every cold/flu that goes around isn’t a perk?

The comments to the CNN article are almost as provocative as the topic. If you’re a bit offended by this move to charge the homeless rent, consider sending an email to Mayor Michael Bloomberg – the person who has decided to enforce this iffy penalty on the desperately poor.

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