The Reality of Homelessness

Forrest Stump
The ignorant media elites and other liberal elements of society are so enamored of that viral photo of the homeless man, the cop, and the shoes that they are blind to all that is so very, very wrong about the situation.

A starting point to what is wrong is the very fact of the man's homelessness, and why it is that he is homeless. 

We cannot know this man's circumstances, but fifty years ago, many such individuals, in all likelihood, would have been in an institution and not on the street.

However, the liberal "geniuses" and "do-gooders" of the time decided that a mindless program called "deinstitutionalization" would allow "individuals who suffer with mental illness [to] lead more normal lives in the community then [sic] they could confined to an institution."

Like so many such liberal notions (emphasis added):

Many problems would develop from [it] ... [such as] ... the community outreach support centers that ... were not built ... , [and] individuals ... were not ensured the medication and rehabilitation services necessary for them to live successfully in the community.

There was also a lack of readiness for those who would develop a mental illness in the future. Many ... patients were left homeless in the streets with some displaying erratic and anomalous behaviors, aggregating apprehensions, stigmas, and discontent in the communities[.] ... [Others] ended up incarcerated or sent to emergency rooms[,] ... pos[ing] a huge burden and quandary on the jail systems.

The communities were not the only ones to suffer. Those who suffered with mental illness were the ones who were ultimately affected.

To be sure, there were serious inequities and inadequacies inherent in the "old" system of mental institutions.  These were best detailed in the documentary Titicut Follies:

Frederick Wiseman made his documentary debut with this controversial 84-minute survey of conditions that existed during the mid-'60s at the State Prison for the Criminally Insane in Bridgewater, Massachusetts[.] ... The film goes behind the walls to show stark and graphic images exposing the treatment of inmates by guards, social workers, and psychiatrists.

Yet deinstitutionalization did not resolve many of these shortcomings and problems, as further discussed here:

The movement ... began back in the early 1960's. Changes in civil rights legislation and the introduction of more effective medications converged, resulting in a massive movement of mentally ill people. It seemed like the most humane thing to do at the time.

In retrospect we can see that this decision, however well-intended, left many people in far worse conditions than they had endured back in the asylums. When discharged from the large institutions homelessness, poverty, inadequate treatment, stigma, and social isolation awaited far too many of them.

Deinstitutionalization, those many changes in civil rights and other legislation, and the junk science behind many liberal obsessions bring such things as the story of the mall security people who released a person who was apparently attempting to abduct a child.  It perfectly says it all (emphasis added):

Bell noted that most malls in America hire unarmed security forces and that officers "are schooled in the notion that they are liable for the ways they handle customers[."]

Similarly, in the case at point, the law restricts the cop's ability to arrest the man for vagrancy or for being a public nuisance so that the man could be put in a warm jail cell.  The law even restricts the cop from putting the man in the cop's cruiser for transport to a shelter -- even if the circumstances make such a person a danger to him- or herself.

The story may be, as many put it (with no intended irony), "heartwarming," but it surely is an example of the kind of liberal-think that gives us barefoot and homeless men lying on sidewalks, and it instantly brings to mind the image of Snoopy perched upon his doghouse, typing: "It was a cold and dark NY night."

Color me unimpressed, because the entire episode misses the whole point of why the man is barefoot, homeless, and lying in the street in the first place -- and why the cop's helpful but inadequate act was the only tool he had at hand.

Forrest Stump is the pen name of the author, who has firsthand knowledge of mental health and other social welfare issues.

The ignorant media elites and other liberal elements of society are so enamored of that viral photo of the homeless man, the cop, and the shoes that they are blind to all that is so very, very wrong about the situation.

A starting point to what is wrong is the very fact of the man's homelessness, and why it is that he is homeless. 

We cannot know this man's circumstances, but fifty years ago, many such individuals, in all likelihood, would have been in an institution and not on the street.

However, the liberal "geniuses" and "do-gooders" of the time decided that a mindless program called "deinstitutionalization" would allow "individuals who suffer with mental illness [to] lead more normal lives in the community then [sic] they could confined to an institution."

Like so many such liberal notions (emphasis added):

Many problems would develop from [it] ... [such as] ... the community outreach support centers that ... were not built ... , [and] individuals ... were not ensured the medication and rehabilitation services necessary for them to live successfully in the community.

There was also a lack of readiness for those who would develop a mental illness in the future. Many ... patients were left homeless in the streets with some displaying erratic and anomalous behaviors, aggregating apprehensions, stigmas, and discontent in the communities[.] ... [Others] ended up incarcerated or sent to emergency rooms[,] ... pos[ing] a huge burden and quandary on the jail systems.

The communities were not the only ones to suffer. Those who suffered with mental illness were the ones who were ultimately affected.

To be sure, there were serious inequities and inadequacies inherent in the "old" system of mental institutions.  These were best detailed in the documentary Titicut Follies:

Frederick Wiseman made his documentary debut with this controversial 84-minute survey of conditions that existed during the mid-'60s at the State Prison for the Criminally Insane in Bridgewater, Massachusetts[.] ... The film goes behind the walls to show stark and graphic images exposing the treatment of inmates by guards, social workers, and psychiatrists.

Yet deinstitutionalization did not resolve many of these shortcomings and problems, as further discussed here:

The movement ... began back in the early 1960's. Changes in civil rights legislation and the introduction of more effective medications converged, resulting in a massive movement of mentally ill people. It seemed like the most humane thing to do at the time.

In retrospect we can see that this decision, however well-intended, left many people in far worse conditions than they had endured back in the asylums. When discharged from the large institutions homelessness, poverty, inadequate treatment, stigma, and social isolation awaited far too many of them.

Deinstitutionalization, those many changes in civil rights and other legislation, and the junk science behind many liberal obsessions bring such things as the story of the mall security people who released a person who was apparently attempting to abduct a child.  It perfectly says it all (emphasis added):

Bell noted that most malls in America hire unarmed security forces and that officers "are schooled in the notion that they are liable for the ways they handle customers[."]

Similarly, in the case at point, the law restricts the cop's ability to arrest the man for vagrancy or for being a public nuisance so that the man could be put in a warm jail cell.  The law even restricts the cop from putting the man in the cop's cruiser for transport to a shelter -- even if the circumstances make such a person a danger to him- or herself.

The story may be, as many put it (with no intended irony), "heartwarming," but it surely is an example of the kind of liberal-think that gives us barefoot and homeless men lying on sidewalks, and it instantly brings to mind the image of Snoopy perched upon his doghouse, typing: "It was a cold and dark NY night."

Color me unimpressed, because the entire episode misses the whole point of why the man is barefoot, homeless, and lying in the street in the first place -- and why the cop's helpful but inadequate act was the only tool he had at hand.

Forrest Stump is the pen name of the author, who has firsthand knowledge of mental health and other social welfare issues.