Chapel Hill Town Council Member Sally Greene has tons of great info on the local community efforts to "end homelessness" on her blog. After the most recent homelessness forum, she posted the text of Mayor Kevin Foy's remarks, which attempted to put this economic struggle in context with the recent debacle in New Orleans and to encourage out community to strive for something better. Foy said, "it is possible to have a society as rich as ours based on moral values that does not accept that some people just will be homeless."
After reading her report on the second Homelessness Roundtable back in February 2005, I was impressed by the effort, but confused at the presence of Philip Mangano, the federal "homelessness czar," touting the Bush Administration's efforts. He was back again this time.
In her report on the third roundtable in May, Sally talked about the impending changes in state government that will take a lot of funds away from these programs, and the need for a focus on actual stable housing to help people. Bush lackey Philip Mangano made this bold statement "Spare change is not enough. . . . We need real change." Which makes me feel about as good as Bush saying he's making America safer. The same guy had this to say at the latest forum "There's nothing that drives political will in our country more now than cost-benefit analysis." How heart warnming.
On the other hand, local efforts really seem to be coming together as the Partnership to End Homelessness in Orange County gets off the ground, as well as other innovative programs. These initiatives are all the more impressive at a time when the state and federal government are decimating social services and mental health budgets. I'm glad these advocates for the homeless are ambitious and energetic about their work. They are badly needed. But as I've said before, no-one is going to END homelessness without a massive restructuring of our economic system.
That's a change I would welcome, but I don't see these activists tackling the casuses of poverty (and I don't blame them). They are trying to better help their neighbors and I applaud them for their compassion and hard work. But as long as we keep living this way, we will keep having to take care of people who are in some ways the spent fuel of our capitalist economy.