Big Sky Blogger Still Ignorant About Homelessness

by William Skink

It appears another post is necessary because willful ignorance does not rest. Where to start?

A year ago Greg Strandberg was trying to depict the homeless situation in Missoula as unique to the state of Montana, specifically blaming the new homeless shelter for “drawing them in”:

I feel the main problem is our homeless shelter’s policies which draw them in. We built it, and they come. Strangely, many other Montana cities with homeless shelters – such as in Helena, the numbers of which I put up last night – are not having these problems.

Why is it just Missoula?

I think GS may have taken my advice to Google “Billings transient problem” because now, a year later, he’s broadened the problem to being a Montana one:

Homelessness is a big problem in Montana.

From 2009 to 2011, for instance, the homeless population in America decreased by 1%…but in Montana it increased by 48%.

I would really like to know where these numbers are coming from because there is no link to a source to substantiate this claim. Is this Greg Strandberg just making shit up? Until I see the source, I’m going to assume yes.

When it comes to homelessness I know first hand that getting solid numbers is very difficult because homelessness is not an easy phenomenon to quantify, especially considering there are different definitions of what it means to be homeless.

That said, I feel pretty comfortable making the following assertion: homelessness is still a big problem in America and progress in the right direction is slow.

Next door, in the State of Washington, things are also not going so well. This article is from earlier this year:

OLYMPIA – An effort to get homeless people off the streets and into shelters seems headed for revisions after critics said it would criminalize homelessness in Washington and put extra burdens on police.

Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, called homelessness “a statewide emergency.” He’s introduced a bill with several key changes to the state laws, including new restrictions on encampments and declaring homeless heroin users who refuse treatment “gravely disabled.” Parents who fail to report a runaway youth in 48 hours could also be charged with a misdemeanor.

“Things are getting worse, no matter what we’ve done,” he said, adding the state has spent about $1 billion on the problem.

There is a lot more I’d like to say, but I really am trying to get other things accomplished, so I’ll conclude with this simple observation: Greg Strandberg’s opinions are not original, and not informed.

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About William Skink

I'm a poet and political cynic living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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