Thursday, October 4, 2007

Mayor Roberts of Hoboken Wants to Rid the City of the Homeless?

At first I thought a new social program for the homeless, someone willing to take on a major problem in the urban landscape, but I was sadly mistaken. Mayor Roberts said in the Jersey Journal yesterday:

Roberts says he's fed up with "vagrants" - i.e. homeless people - panhandling, relieving themselves in public and using Pier A as their own urban resort when they bathe in the fountain and sleep on the park's benches.

He says the city has ordinances on the books that prohibit such behavior, but Police Chief Carmen LaBruno has not made enforcing these public nuisance laws a priority.

"I believe we can do better a job," Roberts said. "I am a supporter of the homeless and have supported the city's homeless shelter, but that doesn't mean our residents should have to put up with what they have to put up with."

Roberts said a number of factors make the Mile Square City a favorite spot for the region's homeless, including the lack of homeless shelters in nearby towns, NJ Transit's push to remove squatters from its old train terminal property and the "generosity" of local residents toward panhandlers.

The issue has been covered at Hoboken 411 ad nauseum. The readers over there seem to agree with the Mayor, that the homeless are vagrants, criminals, drunks, thugs, etc. Name a slanderous comment and it has been used at Hoboken 411. But, for a Mayor, a public official to make comments such as this is embarrassing for him and for our community. He is the Subversive Garden assclown of the week.

Many of the homeless have long histories in the community (we can call it Hudson County): they have cycled for years between foster homes, DYFS, YCS (as youths) and shelters, correctional facilities, marginal housing and low-income neighborhoods. "Many have also experienced abusive family lives and relationships, and as a result they often lack role models and have difficulty sustaining motivation. Most have never in their lives known opportunity or stability. All have known repeated failure."

The homeless also often have inadequate education and lack the basic job skills, work experience, social supports and life and coping skills necessary to succeed independently in the community. Lasting success for the homeless is difficult without first receiving assistance in addressing these issues.

This is well known. Above are not radical ideas, but clearly accepted fact by advocates and legal services organizations around the community, the state and the country. Why, then would a Mayor of a major metropolitan area say such a thing. Who is he pandering to? Is he this stupid? Is he trying to get the Hoboken 411 vote?

Should not the dialogue focus on why we have so many homeless in our community? What is long-term homelessness or chronic homelessness? Is this because of a lack of affordable housing in New Jersey (the 2nd. most expensive state in the country), the sub prime market, poverty, the recent economic downturn, divorce, domestic violence, the lack of family support, chronic health problems, mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, and of course natural disasters? Being homeless is the end of the line, it is the last stop unless somehow one can climb out of the suffocating poverty and sickness many face.

Does the mayor really believe ticketing a homeless person will make him/her not sleep in the park? Not have to go to the bathroom? Is this Mayor Giuliani all over again? There were a lot of candidates for assclown this week, but Mayor Roberts earned it. In an American environment that is constantly treating human life with disdain, the Mayor should be ashamed of such comments. Assclown.

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