In my professional position, I often see people granted disability because of a mental illness or because they have destroyed themselves with drugs/alcohol. For some reason or another, they have been deemed incapable of maintaining employment.
WAY too often, here’s what happens…
There is NO OVERSIGHT over the money they have been granted, zip, zero, nada. They get their check, and what do you suppose it goes to? You guessed it- drugs and alcohol. Many of these folks choose to live free at the CHUM so they can spend their money on drugs/alcohol. Pretty soon that runs out, and they’re panhandling, begging, stealing, or living without basic needs. They also get their money stolen from them, or others manipulate it out of them.
Some manage to get into subsidized housing, where a third of their income goes to rent. What do you suppose they do with the rest of the money? Hmm. Go ahead – guess.
Speaking of subsidized housing…it takes many months, sometimes even years, for people to get a place once they’re on the housing list.
I would like to see a program (preferably via making use of the closed Central High School) where people could actually get REAL help. Not just a check and a place to flop.
It would be a place where anyone choosing to participate would need to agree that they would remain sober, get treatment for their chemical abuse and/or mental illness, and contribute to themselves and the community in some fashion, be it washing dishes, pushing a broom, taking out the trash, planting/weeding/harvesting from the garden- whatever. Additionally, they would be required to participate in a vocational/employment program and a life skills program where they would learn about how to budget money, cook, clean and be responsible citizens.
A program like this one could provide people with an opportunity to get shelter from the elements, a place to clean up, a place to get sober, learn actual life skills, cultivate respect for themselves and others and start living life!
Social workers and social service agencies are useful in many ways, but they can’t do everything and most of them have huge caseloads. The answer isn’t in hiring more social workers. It’s in giving them the tools (such as the one I mentioned) and resources to refer their clients to. The closed Central High School would be an ideal location for such a program.
There are many naysayers who reject this idea because the school district has promoted the notion that the place is beyond repair and was built with asbestos. I went to that school, along with thousands of other people, asbestos, and all.
The school was not closed for those reasons. I have seen great big dumps (in my opinion) that are supposed to have “historical value” worked on and corrected such issues. If the school district failed to maintain the facility to the point where it now even has mold issues, then the taxpayers should sue the district for a rebate on their property taxes, and the school district should donate the facility/grounds to another entity because it is obvious they are incompetent at taking care of it.
The school district allowed the place to fall into disrepair. They neglected their duties. Basic maintenance could have prevented many of the issues that developed with the facility.
Asbestos could have been removed, if not by the school district, but by the buyers. The district promotes the notion that the facility is not salvageable. If that’s the case, it would stand to reason that demolishing it would be very expensive, and they are asking too much for the place. When they did have the opportunity to sell it for even more than the asking price, they refused to sell it because of their petty “no competition” clause. If the school district was actually doing a good job, it would have no fear of competition.
Whether or not the building sits there, abandoned, falling into disrepair is not their concern. They aren’t paying for it. The taxpayers are, and the only concern they have over taxpayers is what they can extort from taxpayers’ wallets.
Much like the city council. They should be ashamed of themselves.
Regardless, we have a homeless and illicit drug problem that can’t be ignored. We need to take action, sound action. It would take lots of effort, but I think funding to create and run this program could come from places other than the city.
It could be a collaborative effort with the school district, business developers, social service agencies, law enforcement, private individuals and the community working towards viable solutions instead of putting bandaids on these wounds. We need to get to the source of these issues. The wounds have been infected with despair.
The closed central High School is paid for with our tax dollars. It effectively and for all intents and purposes belongs to the taxpayers. It’s time we seize the right to take hold of what is rightfully ours.