The original posting of text covered in this video is located here: Poverty Survivor Pride: No Shame In Being Poor | Adora Myers
The video presentation Solving Extreme Poverty and Homelessness in the USA can be seen on YouTube:
Commentary on Quora can be accessed here: https://qr.ae/pG5f5w
PDF of all slides in the presentation:
The text of the presentation with slide titles in bold:
Solving Extreme Poverty and Homelessness in the USA
This presentation describes a potential solution from a big picture perspective. These ideas are being presented as a starting point for discussions on poverty and homelessness. I am inviting fellow poverty survivors – people with lived experience surviving poverty, particularly homelessness – to participate in this discussion. If you have never experience poverty directly, your support is appreciated but please be respectful and allow people with lived experience take the lead in this conversation.
Big Picture, Big Steps
Three (3) different plans with overlapping goals implemented simultaneously. This presentation covers the objectives of all three plans and then looks at the five-year plan in more detail.
5-Year Plan: Objective
The 5-year plan.
The objective is to meet the immediate needs of people currently surviving extreme poverty or homelessness, those in danger of slipping into poverty and people escaping catastrophic events,
To this end, the 5-year plan focuses on providing emergency support to those surviving poverty, universal support to everyone and the establishment of emergency facilities and basic infrastructure to support providing for a large population a catastrophic event.
50-Year Plan: Objective
The 50-year plan.
The objective is to address the root causes of social inequality, financial inequality, global warming and environmental destruction.
This requires digging deep into complicated issues like systemic racism, global warming, environmental destruction and crumbling infrastructure.
500-Year Plan: Objective
The objective is to address long-term problems through multigenerational planning.
The 500-year plan lays the groundwork for making changes while fostering a culture of identifying and evaluating potential risks and consequences across many generations.
5 Year Plan
Now for a more detailed look at the five-year plan.
On its own, this is an ambitious band-aid for out-of-control homelessness and poverty in the United States, designed to keeps people alive while facilitating a transition into the 50-year plan.
Emergency support is a lifeboat, not a final destination. It consists of an expansion of both the resources available and the number of people eligible, while simplifying the process for accessing necessary resources.
Food, housing, transportation and childcare make up the most basic benefits already available. They also address some of the most basic necessities.
Modifying the existing program is simple: 1) increase the amount o all resources made available to each person, 2) increase the annual income requirements to include the middle class,
3) simplify access – For example: automatically enrolling everyone whose tax returns indicate eligibility
And 4) Expand benefits to cover more key issues faced by people surviving poverty, such as student loan forgiveness and free legal assistance
As the title implies, these resources would be immediately available to everyone.
Universal Basic Income (UBI)
Universal Basic Income or UBI checks providing a reliable monthly payment to everyone over a certain age, regardless of income, living status or participation in other government assistance programs. Cash in hand goes a long way towards establishing nationwide financial stability and ensuring the basic needs of the population are met.
Universal Health Care
Five (5) years of Universal health care, covering all aspects of mental and physical health care at no cost to the patient, including medical programs normally addressed outside of hospitals, like dental, eye and chiropractic care.
Universal Photo IDs
The universal ID would be designed to be entirely free of charge, reasonably easy to create, centrally managed and regularly updated. To that end, a new ID could be based on anything from standard identification documentation to information provided by the individual verbally or select biometric data types.
Universal Photo IDs
The objective is to get everyone into the official universal photo ID system, including people who already have other forms of government ID, thereby making it commonly available and useful.
Universal Photo IDs
This may require connecting it to a specific purpose, such as voter identification, a centralized medical records system, or the universal medical benefits program.
Emergency facilities are distinctly different from existing resources available to people during a crisis. They are designed to provide refuge to a very large population of people, pets and property during anything from a personal emergency to a catastrophic event or a mass evacuation.
The resources currently available have three (3) possible formats: 1) a cold site, 2) a warm site, and 3) a hot site.
A cold site takes time and effort to set up and may require additional supplies to get up and running. Examples include bomb shelters, remote summer cabins or an RV only used for vacations.
A warm site is used on a limited basis or has a primary purpose that makes it reasonably easy to modify quickly. Either way it is partially up and running and mostly operational. Examples include schools, community centers, churches and stadiums.
A hot site is fully functioning and continually operating. Examples include hospitals, hotels and homeless shelters. Unfortunately, currently operating hot sites are not equipped to handle a large-scale emergency.
Homeless shelters struggle to meet the needs of people surviving poverty on an average day.
Hospitals and hotels are neither designed nor equipped to handle a large population for an extended time.
Emergency Facilities are hot sites specifically designed to handle the worst-case-scenario by meeting the long-term needs of an extremely large population during a crisis – whether that crisis affects a single person or involves a mass-evacuation.
Emergency facilities provide a place to live, a place to die, the resources necessary to live, and the ability to access at least one facility from anywhere in any state in the country.
They are 100% handicap accessible because an evacuation event requires fast and simple processes. Able bodied people can used handicapped accessible housing without modification or difficulty. The same cannot be said about people who are handicapped or injured being placed in standard non-accessible housing.
A facility that is 100% handicapped accessible can provide housing and basic resources to anyone at any time – without delay. Simple. Fast. Efficient.
The facilities, supplies and the public transportation connecting them MUST be designed to meet the needs of 150% of the total known population of the entire state.
That number includes the housed, unhoused, and temporary residents.
Why 150%? First, it’s an emergency facility. During an evacuation, everyone is moved out of the danger zone and into a safe place no questions asked – there MUST NEVER be a moment when people are stopped and evaluated for access.
Second, if the entire population is evacuated to these facilities at the same time and the total population count is off by 10%-25% or more, then there’s still plenty of room for everyone, including emergency transfers from other facilities.
Which brings us to Emergency transfers. These are pre-established plans for moving people to different emergency facilities when the local facility is compromised, destroyed or at capacity.
To illustrate, Try to imagine the states of California, Oregon and Washington on a map. All three states share an ocean coastline and problems with regular natural disasters, such as earthquakes, wildfires, floods and drought.
In this fictitious scenario…California has three (3) emergency facilities, Oregon has one (1) and Washington State has two (2). A wildfire rips through Oregon, forcing the evacuation of a large portion of its population to the emergency facility. This works until the fire changes course and starts heading for the facility itself
Despite planning, prevention and firefighting efforts, the fire gets dangerously close, and the Oregon facility must be evacuated. Per the plans already in place, the entire displaced population is sent to emergency facilities in California and Washington State via specially designed public transportation, such as a high-speed rail.
When transfers arrive, they are immediately provided living arrangements and access to all resources. Housing and assistance continues for as long as each person or family needs.
When the Oregon facility re-opens, those who remain at the emergency transfer locations are given the option of being transferred back to Oregon. Transfers are always free of charge and, outside of an emergency evacuation, they are voluntary.
An emergency facility requires comprehensive medical resources. Because this is a continuously operating facility, those resources are available – free of charge – to anyone who needs them 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Nursing Homes and Hospice Care
A mass evacuation event is going to generate serious injuries, some of them fatal and others requiring long-term care. Evacuations also include nursing home residents and hospice patients in other regions of the state. Therefore, the emergency facility must be prepared to handle the needs of these patients.
Nursing Homes and Hospice Care
Homelessness among the elderly is becoming more and more common. Serious illness often causes financial ruin that leaves individuals and families at the mercy of the welfare system and homeless shelters. Therefore, facilities must be prepared to continuously accommodate the needs of people dealing with a family or personal crisis.
Catastrophic events do not adhere to a political calendar. Citizens evacuated to an emergency facility still have the right to vote in all elections – local and national. Voting options must, by necessity, be made available to all citizens residing at a facility for any length of time.
Basic communication resources include reliable high speed internet connections and universal cell phone towers designed to allow the entire population the ability to contact family and friends, or to remotely connect to work and school.
This facilitates communication between individuals, families and government agencies during a disaster. It also helps to encourage people to leave an area in anticipation of a known pending disaster, like a hurricane.
Education and More
Getting back to normal after a disaster takes time. Most likely, people forced to rely on an emergency facility will live there for several months or even years. Life continues.
Education and More
Children must be educated, and college students need to finish school.
Education and More
There are religious events and cultural holidays to observe.
Education and More
Athletes and arm-chair warriors alike need to continue their training.
Education and More
Opportunities to participate in both sports and the arts relieves stress, builds community and helps people continue living their lives. Which, in turn, helps people recover from a traumatic experience and get their lives back on track.
Laws and policies governing emergency facilities must be consistent across the entire network to ensure that a flood of people traveling between facilities during an emergency transfer can complete the move as smoothly as possible. The fewer details people are trying to figure out during an emergency, the better.
Community and Culture
Many people will stay at a facility temporarily. Some will take a job and settle down permanently. There will be students who come seeking a free education and individuals who simply choose to remain long-term – these are all good things.
Community and Culture
Anticipating the establishment of a permanent community and actively working to foster a culture that is conducive to the unique nature of life at an emergency facility will help ensure smooth operation over the long-term.
Big Picture, Big Steps
That’s the basic overview of the primary components of the five-year plan à Emergency support, universal support and emergency facilities.
Solving Extreme Poverty and Homelessness in the USA
Thank you for listening!
The country would be better served if we allow both people to speak with fewer interruptions. I’m appealing to you to do that.Chris Wallace, Moderator 2020 Presidential Debate, 9/29/2020
The problem with the first presidential debate can be solved with technology. This is a rare moment when a distinctly human communication problem can be effectively solved through technological solutions.
The problem: Constant interruptions of both the moderator and the opponent during a live broadcast debate.
Step 1: Place candidates in separate rooms or in clear glass, soundproof boxes on the same physical stage. Separate rooms requires reliable video and audio and clear boxes require reliable audio, thereby allowing the participants to hear both questions and responses.
Step 2: Make it clear at the outset that microphones will be muted when questions are asked and when the opponent has the floor.
Step 3: When it is their turn to speak open the microphone. When they are out of time mute them.
Step 4: If a live mic is in the room recording everything said but not broadcast during the debate, then those recordings may be released and commented on the following day. It must not be made available during the debate itself.
Homelessness is unhealthy. In the United States poverty, extreme or otherwise, is unhealthy. For many middle-class families, simply being underinsured in unhealthy. Health care is a wide-reaching issue but the cost of health care, with or without insurance, is frequently financially devastating and potentially deadly.
Doctors don’t work for free. If you can’t pay the bill and the insurance company (assuming you have one) won’t cover the expenses, then medical care and medication are cut off. That’s the way things work.
- American Medical Association (AMA) Journal of Ethics: Refusal of Emergency Care and Patient Dumping
For people trying to survive extreme poverty (homelessness), the conditions of day-to-day life exacerbate medical issues. The lack of health insurance all but eliminates health care. Trying to find work or other resources necessary to get off the streets is difficult under the best of circumstances, add an illness into that scenario and ‘extremely difficult’ becomes ‘near impossible.’
Universal Health Care
- World Health Organisation (WHO): Universal Health Coverage (UHC)
- Harvard Public Health Review (HPHR): Universal Health Care, The Affordable Dream
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): Universal health coverage from multiple perspectives: a synthesis of conceptual literature and global debates
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): California Universal Health Care: An economic stimulus and life-saving proposal
Universal health care would address the financial devastation that pushes middle-class families into extreme poverty (homelessness) when a loved one falls ill.
Universal health care would provide extremely poor people access to much-needed resources and services. Simply being able to address an illness or injury makes finding a job significantly more possible, which makes escaping homelessness possible – not easy or guaranteed but possible.
Universal healthcare would begin the long and arduous process of addressing the medical resource caste-system currently built around government-provided Medicaid and Medicare programs. People who receive health insurance through an employer have significantly more options and receive markedly better care. There are large numbers of doctors and medical care providers who refuse to accept patients reliant on government-provided benefits – unless they are government employees, in which case they receive the same care as people in the private sector. Since extremely poor people are overwhelmingly dependent upon these programs, this creates a prejudiced resource distribution wherein people at the bottom are treated very differently from people who have more social and financial ‘value.’
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): Reports of Insurance-Based Discrimination in Health Care and Its Association With Access to Care
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): The Role of Stigma in Access to Health Care for the Poor
- The Heritage Foundation: Studies Show: Medicaid Patients Have Worse Access and Outcomes than the Privately Insured
A true universal healthcare system would help to place all Americans on equal footing within the medical care system. It would place every person under the same medical payment system, giving all citizens access to the same medical resources without fear of financial devastation.
The social stigma surrounding extremely poor people will take significantly more time and resources to change. Medical professionals who harbor an aversion to interacting with extremely poor people (homeless or housed) will continue to shun these individuals, provide substandard care or participate in abusing vulnerable populations for the same reasons that racists treat the objects of their hate in the same manner.
- Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington
The cascading effects of hatred towards extremely poor (homeless) people will have to be addressed in another way.
Legal problems can, and often do, force people into extreme poverty, homelessness included. A court case can take over a person’s life, draining time, resources and funds. Depending on the reasons behind the case, it can cost a person their reputation, job and family – justifiably or not. Any involvement with the legal system is costly and winning is often the result of simply having more resources to devote to the process. If the issue at stake is important enough, people will (and have) devote every last resource to the fight, leaving them financially destitute.
Surviving extreme poverty (homeless or housed) is a legal quagmire of vagrancy laws; restrictions based on lack of a permanent address; illegal evictions; and accusations of theft, fraud, trespassing and simply existing (e.g.: sleeping in public). Attempting to report violent attacks or rapes is practically impossible and police brutality is not uncommon.
Those are just the most commonly known legal issues facing people trying to escape extreme poverty.
Any form of legal entanglement is devastating to impoverished families. Criminal cases are common and many of them are based on racial profiling or ridiculous laws specifically designed (and selectively enforced) to criminalize the existence of poor people because those with power don’t like seeing extreme poverty in public spaces.
I wish I could say that last sentence was an exaggeration or an analogy or even representation of worst-case-scenarios that pop-up through the country. Sadly, it is the cold-hard-reality faced by people surviving extreme poverty everywhere in the United States.
There are free legal aid programs, but they are inundated with requests for help, run by a small staff of volunteers and universally refuse to even discuss anything that is considered criminal. Legal representation provided within the court system is also overloaded and poorly managed.
As the experts in mass incarceration have pointed out, simply being part of a targeted racial group almost guarantees problems with the criminal justice system, regardless of your commitment to living a good and honest life. The same can be said for people surviving poverty – particularly those faced with extreme poverty and homelessness.
Extreme poverty and homelessness will not be significantly reduced, much less solved, until prejudiced and predatory laws are eliminated, all people are provided access to quality legal assistance and addressing an issue through the court system does not require being either extremely wealthy or a willingness to face complete financial devastation.
There’s a lot of work to be done here.
I don’t have a clean or easy answer.
It must change.
Mass Incarceration and Vagrancy Law Resources:
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): Mass Incarceration
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): Statement to Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Human Rights Council, 38thSession
- Equal Justice Initiative (EJI): Mass Incarceration
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH): Challenges to Vagrancy, Loitering and Curfew Laws
“Get a job!” is one for the most common insults screamed into the faces of homeless people and individuals begging for change. Extremely poor people are stereotyped as being lazy, unreliable and unwilling to hold down a regular job. In reality, a significant number of extremely poor (homeless and housed) people hold down multiple jobs, working between 40 and 80 hours a week, month-after-month and year-after-year. The problem is not the ability or willingness to work – it’s the extremely low wages being paid by the vast majority of available jobs.
- Invisible People: Homeless Man Looking for Work Cannot Find Employment
- National Public Radio (NPR): Working While Homeless: A Tough Job For Thousands Of Californians
All over the country, the struggle is the same. Good paying jobs are inundated with applicants and almost every other opportunity pays less than the cost of living. Simply paying rent on a full-time minimum wage paycheck is impossible. Add in other expenses and holding down 2-3 jobs may not bring in enough cash to simply live.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Living Wage Calculator
The irony of this is the fact that there is plenty of work to be done and plenty of resources to go around. Take a walk around your neighborhood. How much would the 2-3 blocks surrounding your home benefit from a crew of people dedicated to simply cleaning, maintaining and fixing things? Expand that to the entire town or city. How much work needs to be done? How much of it get’s pushed aside year after year?
Then consider the number of small family businesses and start-up companies that struggle to survive in a market where large corporation not only dominate but reduce prices to the point where it’s impossible to compete. Providing people to work at small, local, businesses at a reduced cost to the business while paying the worker a living wage could help boost the local business economy.
A very simple program that simply provided a living wage job to any and every person who applied would go a long way toward reducing poverty (extreme or otherwise), preventing homelessness, and providing homeless people a much-needed opportunity to move into long-term housing.
- History Channel: Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) provides living wage work during the Great Depression.
Couple this program with standard employment assistance services and people who have been out of work for a long time will be provided a much-needed opportunity to return to the workforce. Even if every person working is doing low-skill manual labor, the possibility of being hired for completely different work significantly increases because it’s always easier to get a job when you have a job.
Also, presenting yourself in an interview becomes both difficult and complicated when you are stressed about finding your next meal, a place to sleep, the possibility of being evicted, or the overall safety of your children. These are things that employers consider liabilities and reasons to remove a person from consideration – if they should find out. They are also things that make remaining cheerful and pleasant a challenge.
A significant number of the seemingly insurmountable hurdles faced by extremely poor people could be addressed by simply providing a job that pays enough to cover the cost of living to anyone who wants one, regardless of their work history, background, criminal history, skill set or age.
This program would have to provide opportunities for teenagers, including those who are trying to help their family pay the bills, trying to care for siblings on their own or simply surviving without the help of a family. An education is crucial, but being open to helping these kids cover the cost of living through a job (full or part-time) presents a multitude of opportunities to address things like obtaining a GED.
- Washington Post: An alarming number of teenagers are quitting school to work
Providing people with a criminal record or a less-than-perfect background with work that covers the cost living – guaranteed – helps to reduce criminal activity because it makes crime less necessary. When people have the ability to choose to live a good honest life, then making the decision to pursue criminal activity is more complicated because they really and truly do not have to break the law just to survive.
Making work available to anyone who needs it, at all times, also acts as a safety net for individuals who:
- Lose their job due to cutbacks or a large corporation shutting down.
- Quit a job due to a hostile work environment.
- Leave their spouse due to abuse or a crumbling relationship.
- Were forced to close a small business.
- Are faced with the loss of work and/or income for any reason.
- Many more…
The bottom line is simply this, providing a living-wage-job to anyone both willing and able to work benefits everyone in a specific geographic region and goes a long way toward reducing homelessness overall.
I am going to tell you as well as I can the story of the French Canadian textile worker; what brought him here; how he came, lived, worked, played and suffered until he was recognized as a patriotic, useful and respected citizen, no longer a ‘frog’ and ‘pea soup eater,’ a despised Canuck. And it’s the story of all the French Canadians who settled in New England mill towns. The picture of one French Canadian textile worker and the picture of another are just as much alike as deux gouttes d’eau, or, as we have learned to say in English, like two peas in a pod.
French Canadian Textile Worker, U.S. Work Projects Administration, Federal Writers’ Project, Library of Congress, a Narrative by Lemay, Philippe (Author) and Pare, Louis (Reporter), series: Folklore Project, Life Histories, 1936-39, MSS55715: BOX A718
Happy Easter from the Myers family.
In Missouri, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $815. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities — without paying more than 30% of
income on housing — a household must earn $2,716 monthly or $32,588 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into
an hourly Housing Wage of: $15.67
As a security professional within a corporate environment, I am tasked with identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities or threats. Information Security (InfoSec) effectively comes down to this: 1) know what you have (valuables), where it’s located and who has access to it, 2) identify potential vulnerabilities/weaknesses coming from both inside and outside the company (or DMZ), and 3) eliminate/reduce all vulnerabilities and weaknesses to the fullest extent possible, while carefully monitoring those that you choose to allow to remain unaddressed (there are many reasons for making this decision).
Take this process and apply it to a community of people. For the sake of argument:
- Make 10% of that population homeless.
- Create an economic structure wherein people are constantly flowing in and out of homelessness. The population keeps changing.
- The total % of people who are homeless increases, slowly, over time.
- 25% of the people who experience homelessness spend the rest of their lives living with a mental or physical illness (disability?) acquired as a direct result of being homeless.
- 75% of the people experiencing homelessness, at any point in time, are children.
- The protection afforded to housed people is not provided to homeless, making them perfect targets for criminals, predators and ‘recruiters’ of all kinds.
- Surviving homelessness requires surviving violence.
If this community has 100,000 people, then a minimum of 10,000 people are being forced to live underground at any given moment in time. 7500 of these individuals are children whose education is being interrupted and/or negatively impacted by the experience. There are also a minimum of 2500 people who are dealing with illnesses and disabilities as a direct result of being forced to live underground while surviving extreme poverty.
Those 7500 children and 2500 permanently injured/disabled adults (we’ll assume they are all adults) are (re)entering society with training, experience, perspective and skills that may or may not positively contribute to the safety, security and positive function of society.
As a security professional, I shake my head in disgust because those 7500 unknowns (at this point, they are not officially threats) were completely avoidable. I did not have to be concerned about them at all. It is a situation that could (should) be eliminated through housing, access to basic resources/necessities, respectful and effective assistance from police forces and safe, quality, reliable and free education.
Now, let’s introduce some known threats.
- Psychopaths make up 1% of the total population (How to Spot Psychopaths: Speech Patterns Give Them Away): 1000
- Sociopaths make up 4% of the total population (What percentage of people are psychopaths/sociopaths?): 4000
- Violent criminals make up 1% of the total population (The 1 % of the population accountable for 63 % of all violent crime convictions): 1000
- Organized crime holds influencing control over 10% of the total population (https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/organized-crime): 10,000 (Notes: 1) ‘influencing’ control covers everything, including: owing a small debt, having a distant blood relation directly involved, being blackmailed and being a fully involved member and 2) I could not find a published population % of involvement, so I went with an easy-to-calculate number – when compared to actual influence of organized crime, I suspect this number is extremely low.)
- Sexual predators make up .2% of the total population: 200 (https://www.statisticbrain.com/sex-offender-statistics/)
All of these threats could consist of a grand total of 10,000 people due to overlap (read: the highest number listed above), but it also could consist of a total threat base of 16,200 people – assuming no overlap. So my known threat base ranges from 10,000 to 16,000 people in the total population. Assuming %s remain consistent and all known threats are adults, then it can be assumed 250–400 experienced homelessness at some point.
I’m guessing that you are looking at that relatively low number of homeless predators and wondering: how does this illustrate compounding vulnerability exploitation? Allow me to illustrate…
Compounding force #1: One vulnerability leads to a strengthening of a threat which, in turn, creates another vulnerability.
10,000 perpetrators/threats (10% of the total population) are committing crimes against 10,000 vulnerable (homeless) people (10% of the total population) either by preference or as a form of practice. The homeless are not provided police protection and they cannot defend themselves due to extreme poverty and social stigma. Therefore, a potential criminal who has not crossed the line into full-blown criminal activity, is provided a ‘sandbox’ where these behaviors can be acted out and perfected before perpetrating them against people who ‘matter.’
Compounding force #2: The purposeful allowance of an exploitation, and the refusal to take proper action in response, increases both the threat and the vulnerability.
The widespread acceptance surrounding the degradation, marginalization and violent treatment of poverty survivors (homeless people in particular), creates a pervading social construct (culture) that is less able (unable?) to identify and address these same behaviors perpetrated against the general population. The community has become ‘numb’ to criminal activity and lost a significant (important) portion of it’s willingness and/or ability to properly address these actions.
The culture of a community/environment must be such that threats can be identified and addressed, promptly, properly and effectively. If the culture is negatively affected in one circumstance, allowing a known threat/criminal act to go unaddressed (unpunished), then that same threat will not only continue, but will grow stronger and begin to expand (aggressively).
Compounding force #3: Threats that are mitigated ad-hoc and separate from the whole often generate more vulnerabilities and create new categories of threats.
The widespread refusal to treat poverty survivors (homeless in particular) with the basic respect due to any human being, combined with an aggressively enforced caste system that forces people into permanent association with a ‘lesser-than’ category, directly and negatively affects all poverty survivor’s ability to improve their lives both financially and socially. They are placed between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place.’
Desperation and lack of options can force people to find creative solutions (this is good), but it can also push them into making alliances and decisions that place them into the community threat category (this is bad).
The homeless are the absolute bottom, they are not the entire community of poverty survivors. Those who are surviving poverty while remaining housed (however tenuous that situation may be) will see what is happening to those trying to survive homelessness. The actions taken against the homeless will directly and profoundly effect the decisions made by those who are ‘merely poor.’
The two communities combined are placed in a state of desperation, trying to improve their situation. This makes them all particularly vulnerable to everything from relatively light criminal activity (e.g.: shoplifting) to criminal association (e.g.: joining a gang or a criminal network) and radicalization (e.g.: joining terrorist organizations like the KKK or ISIL and participating in hate crimes or terrorist attacks).
By isolating and ignoring the safety and welfare of one segment of the community, the threat level is increased for another segment of the community. Due to the ostracism and marginalization of poverty survivors, the actions taken by poverty survivors, in reaction to their situation, are separate from the actions taken by the police and similar organizations in protections of the community as a whole. This disconnect creates an increased number of threats seeking to exploit vulnerabilities found throughout the community.
Compounding force #4: The creation of exploitable vulnerabilities increases with the acceptance of those exploitations.
When the only thing separating those vulnerable to degradation, vicious social behavior and open violence is financial standing, moving a targeted individual into a state of absolute vulnerability hinges on destroying their financial standing.
In other words, everyone is vulnerable, because anyone can have a financial crisis at any moment.
It’s easy to assume that you are immune to such experiences. But it is even easier to examine the life and habits of any individual or family and identify that ways in which they could go from housed and financially secure to living out of shelter – in a stunningly short period of time.
For criminals and predators, this is an important loophole. It permanently establishes a vulnerability within every single household, that can be exploited to reduce or eliminate a threat to criminal operations. Because the vulnerability is entirely financial, exploiting it presents minimal risk to criminals and predators. After all, arranging for a family member for come down with a mysterious illness that requires a lengthy hospital stay, or simply ensuring the primary breadwinner looses his or her job, is relatively easy.
There is no such thing as an isolated threat. Every ecology or environment (e.g.: computer systems, the environment, human social networks, towns and cities, etc.) operates within the push-and-pull of threats-vs-vulnerabilities. Every threat has the potential to grow strong and every vulnerability has the potential to grow larger. Both have the ability to spread to other systems, ecological environments, communities, etc.
Dividing the world into absolute, unchanging, categories of US and THEM is a dangerous habit. A truly effective system of threat identification and mitigation recognizes that there is no them – there is only us.