Friday, July 17, 2009

Homeless in Cincinnati

The number of homeless in Cincinnati has been on the rise, as it has nationwide, and council members and county commissions are, apparently, quite put-out by it all.

“It’s clearly unacceptable for it to be used this way,” Pepper (Hamilton County Commissioner) told The Enquirer [in reference to the homeless sleeping at the courthouse] . “The building needs to be clean and safe and perceived that way.”


Not: "It's clearly unacceptable for it to be this way. These are people, fellow human beings, and need to be shown a better way to live."

Not: "It's clearly unacceptable for it to be this way. These are my fellow human beings and are, obviously, the ones suffering in the most challenging ways due to the current economic conditions."

Not: "It's clearly unacceptable for it to be this way. Obviously we need to be seeking new ways to help these people live in a healthy manner."

Nope. He just doesn't want to trip over them.

However, he's a step behind Council member Jeff Berding. While I'm far from an expert on homelessness, I had to laugh at the obvious stupidity of a recent motion initiated by this amusing council member.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, "Cincinnati panhandlers would have to pay a fee to register, pay earnings tax on their collections and toss their hand-written “Please Help” signs under a plan to be proposed next month.

Saying panhandling is as much of a business as, say, selling hot dogs, Councilman Jeff Berding is working on a plan he says will help make the city more appealing to residents and tourists. The plan also would require panhandlers, including those who walk up to people and those who sit holding their signs, to carry a standard sign issued by the city. That sign would say how much money the city has approved for agencies that help homeless people – more than $11 million this year, Berding said."

Now, I could use this opportunity to point out that it must be true that Democrats always think taxes solve problems. But I won't make that joke.

Berding, who has probably offended hot dog and water vendors around the city, claims that this will force the homeless to access the legitimate services that the city offers, however, I think we all know what it will do. It will push the homeless out of the city and then Pepper and Berding will no longer need to deal with them.

I'm not advocating a pitying attitude toward the homeless that enables them to continue to live in an unhealthy manner and place other citizens at various risks. However, how in the world are you going to get a 60+ year old mentally ill substance abuser to actually register with the county, obtain a license.... what, are they supposed to file self-employment tax too? Where do they keep their paperwork? I'm sure the police and courts are going to love all the additional work, as will the social workers who have to try to walk them through the process of getting a license. The 2% tax won't even pay for the costs of trying to administer this idea.

Recently a list was created that listed the 10 worst cities in which to be homeless. These cities are known for having the cruelest policies towards homelessness (which, to be noted, doesn't decrease homelessness). Cincinnati didn't make that list. Give it time, though.

No comments: