Fascinating Clash of Ideology and Reality

Fascinating Clash of Ideology and Reality December 23, 2013

The old joke used to be about the Marxist who, presented with some plan for reviving the economy that held huge promise, replied, “Oh sure it will work in fact.  But will it work in theory?”  Here is a plan that seems to be doing very good things to help the homeless in Utah, but which goes against just about every trope and assumption of the Thing that Used to be Conservatism.

Utah has reduced its rate of chronic homelessness by 78 percent over the past eight years, moving 2000 people off the street and putting the state on track to eradicate homelessness altogether by 2015. How’d they do it? The state is giving away apartments, no strings attached. In 2005, Utah calculated the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for an average homeless person was $16,670, while the cost of providing an apartment and social worker would be $11,000. Each participant works with a caseworker to become self-sufficient, but if they fail, they still get to keep their apartment.

On Facebook, I wondered if FOX consumers and Talk Radio ideologues would likewise let their theories and slogans get in the way of what works?  Right on cue, lots of people showed up to denounce Utah (!?) as the most left-wing state in the Union (?!), to fret about “unforeseen consequences”, to quote “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (because everybody just knows the homeless “will not work”) and to ignore “give to him who asks”, to spout social Darwinist doctrines about how helping the poor does not allow them to toughen up and how charity to the weakest is an insult to the hard working (because, again, we just know somehow that the poor “won’t work” and therefore deserve to sleep on the street), and to insist that–even if it saves money–it is better to punish the poor with homelessness than give them shelter.

Why? This comment pretty much sums up the triumph of the Hannitized mind over both charity *and* fiscal common sense:

Where are these apartments coming from again? This is what was done in the Soviet Union too. I was told by several fellows who loved the Social Justice paradise so much they left as soon as they could find a method of escape. Next step will be to criticize the “dignity” of these “free” apartments and demand better conditions until I pay $1200 a month, from an already taxed income, for a 3 bedroom apartment that a “homeless” family gets for free because I’m not a drugged out parasite that refuses to be productive! Social Justice!

Social Darwinism, not anything like the gospel, is the guiding light of that comment.

Oh, and also, of course, involving the state in *any* way to ensure the common good, even if it means getting people out of  freezing Utah night is a crushing impingement on true Christian charity since any move by the state to ensure the common good renders Christians paralyzed to do their own works of mercy.  Bottom line: for a not inconsiderable percentage of commenters, even if it saves the public money, we should still be sure to punish the poor (I’m sorry, “parasites”) with homelessness whenever possible.  Besides, the only reason it saves money is that the homeless go to ER with fake medical complaints on freezing nights and ER has to treat them at no cost.  Obviously, the real solution is not to make it so they don’t have to lie in order to find a warm bed on a cold night, but to tighten up ER regs so that people have to stay outside and freeze.

Fascinating to watch the Hannitized mind of the Thing that Used to be Conservatism do this kind of stuff and still imagine that God has anointed it to protect the Church from the pope without the slightest notion that it has something to learn from him–or from reality.  It really is striking how much like a rigid doctrinaire Marxist the Hannitized mind is.

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  • Stu

    I think I’ll defend the naysayer a little bit. Just a little We are so accustomed to the Big Government “solution” to everything that it has become ingrained to reject any help that the government should provide even when it is being done on a more local basis. That’s our challenge, as proponents of subsidiarity and solidarity, to convince people that just because Big Government has overstretched its bounds, it doesn’t meant that all government is bad.

    It’s certainly too early to tell whether this program is the “answer” and claims that they will eradicate homelessness are a bit overplayed but what a great way to reconceptualize the problem at the local level and do some good.

    • Dan F.

      Agreed. I think the challenge for those of us of a conservative bent who can still see this as a fantastic idea and a great application of subsidiarity to a real problem isohow to successfully help our friends whose kneejerk reaction to government programs (for not unreasonable reasons) is expressed by the commenter in mark’s block quote. If we’re going to have any kind of success at simultaneously taming the beast of too large government and also restoring how government ought to act we need those people. Not necessarily Hannity but all of those people who are listening to “The thing that used to be Conservatism”. Probably cant do that in a combox but we all likely have people in our lives who qualify.

      • Stu


        These folks have a lot of thrust as do the Occupy Wall Street kids. What they need is vectoring.

    • Dan C

      “Subsidiary” meaning “not the government” and market solutions suffer from a lack of stability. I would love that it was not the case. However, reality invades my dreams. Small not for profit groups are often uneven in service delivery and have funding vagaries. Subsidiary in America, the example of which is local school districts suffer strongly from uneven performance, which come from many problems, the greatest of which includes uneven resources.

      Market solutions have proved difficult in compliance and troublesome in terms of stability for education and health solutions. I suspect market solutions for homeless assistance, while feasible in theory somewhere, would still have difficulties as one lurches from quarter to quarter and cycle to cycle awaiting “profitability” that is substantive enough to match the stock market indices.

      • Stu

        No, subsidiarity meaning that challenges be handled at the lowest level of organization that can handle them and that the higher level of organization stay out unless absolutely needed. Lack of such discipline is why we have the Big Government/Big Business behemoth now and ultimately miss on solidarity.

        • Dan C

          I noted that the biggest social subsidiarity experiment is education and that it has many holes. All which follow income levels. State management of local execution of education been frought with all the infighting and rejection of support that is present in the national discourse on welfare and assistance.

          The problem is, the best examples of success for these matters are more nationalized than localized globally.

          • Stu

            Yes, let’s be thankful that Federal management of anything hasn’t been plagued by infighting and mismanagement,etc.

            I don’t subscribe to a utilitarian viewpoint that the most successful approach (by whatever measure you choose) is necessarily the right approach. Nor do I believe in the pretext that everything has to be equal in outcome.

            Instead of a Big Government/Big Business solution to such perceived problems, it would be nice to see higher levels of government to support the more local levels towards success.

          • Raymond

            If they are the best examples of success, why is that a problem?

            • Dan C

              Nationalized programs in America are somehow forbidden by religion.

              Except the military.

              • Stu

                Not forbidden. Overused and too often the option of first resort.

                Time to regain the balance of subsidiarity and only then will get solidarity.

            • chezami

              Because they involve the state and the Thing that Used to be Conservatism deeply believes that this is evil and that the only thing the state does with unbelievable efficiency is exercise military force. So there’s no problem in backing a catastrophica and stupid war, but the Republic is done for if you get a few freezing people off the street, even if it saves money.

  • JmcBoots

    You realize Governor Herbert is a Republican right?

    • Dan C

      Only Nixon as a Republican could go to China, could start the EPA, etc.

    • IRVCath

      Yet the Faux News ideologues would throw this upstanding conservative under the bus for operating policies on a real world basis.

  • Dan C

    1). That this has happened in Europe (Germany and Scandinavian countries for example) and has resulted in similar results was never a reasonable example, them being godless Euroweenies and all.

    2). That this is exactly like what the social encyclicals of the popes obviously leaned towards since the 1970’s was never a reasonable template, the writers and the Vatican being Euroweenies and all.

    This is only news in the US.

    “Improved resources, supervision, and assistance improves outcomes for the desperately poor” would not be a headline in many Western countries.

    What is it about the US that needs to deny what has worked?

    • Dan F.

      What is this “rest of the world” of which you speak? ‘Murica! 😉

    • Stu

      Because Europe isn’t exactly a social utopia itself. I’m confident that people in Europe reject things here in the States which work better as well.

    • Mariana Baca

      I don’t know about Germany — but getting housing in Scandinavia if you are middle class is extremely difficult and not exactly cheap. It takes literally years of waiting — these are people who *can* afford apartments. It makes this extremely difficult for young people trying to live in different cities for a better job, to go to university, etc. It is actually a major barrier for young families trying to have kids, and makes society very insular for migrants.

      And I’m not sure on the no “homeless” there — there are many Roma in cities who certainly seem homeless and are at the very least panhandles, even in small cities. I’m sure there is selective accounting going on here as in many things.

      ETA: some of the problems there could be solved by a happy medium solution making things more like there are here. But they can also be stubborn just like people here are.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Because your country is so obviously superior to all those European countries that it expects to teach them how to do things, and considers that it has absolutely nothing to learn from these socialists… Good ideas only originate in the US, don’t you know?

    • What is it about the US that needs to deny what has worked?

      I think it’s because the US is the most Classically Liberal of all modern nations. Look, what we’re talking about is “justice”, giving people what they deserve. And often people need other things than merely money. They need guidance; they need advice; they need help only in a particular form; sometimes they just need a kick in the ass. But the US hesitates to do this kind of thing because any act of justice presupposes an ideal way of life towards which you’re helping them, and the official doctrine of this nation, as promulgated by the magisterium, is that no one has the right to tell anyone else what his or her life “ought” to be like. Anthony Kennedy said it most notoriously, but every combox discussion ever will evince the exact same presupposition.

      So if a program like this “works”, that means it successfully directs people towards certain goals – based on certain understandings about what it means to live a good life – and so, yes, as Mark said, the average American sees the glaring inconsistency between the principles they claim to hold at the center of their liberty-lovin’ hearts and what they’re being asked to contribute money to. It apparently doesn’t work in theory, and if it doesn’t work in theory, that means America doesn’t work in practice.

  • Mindy Goorchenko

    This reminds me of a controversial program in Anchorage which is proving successful: http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20131015/karluk-manor-residents-anchorage-drinking-less-staying-streets

    • Brandon Jaloway

      This is really cool. Maybe after a couple of years they could move to even more stable housing if they wanted to. It could be a goal for them, something to look forward to. And it might save taxpayers even more money.

    • Elmwood

      Nobody needs homes more than the homeless in Alaska, where the poor often freeze to death outside. Parnell cut oil taxes by billions of dollars, imagine if he spent this extra tax money on homes for the poor.

  • kenofken

    Why is any of this surprising? Social Darwinism has been a core principle of conservatism (and the religious right) in this country, just as paternalism has been a core principle of the left.

    • Social Darwinism is absolutely not a “core principle” of conservatism. It is rather a conclusion that inescapably follows from several presuppositions that actually are core, some of which presuppositions are bad, some of which are good.

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    I am glad to read that Wyoming is following suit. I hope the program here includes drug rehab for those who need it. Of economy is stronger than most and we can hopefully find jobs for everyone who can work.

  • What everyone should really do is start getting to know homeless people. Then you’ll find out who they are.

    Few are ‘working the system’. Many are crazy. Many have made themselves crazy. Many are simply mentally or physically disabled. We, ‘Christians’, need to get out on the streets and make friends with the outcast and marginalized.

    But the real issue is: purpose, the loss of purpose. Our high-tech society has eliminated the options of purpose for people who didn’t grow up in the right class, don’t have the right mind, didn’t make the right choices and are now outside the margin, don’t have enough teeth, can’t think properly any longer and never ever will be able to use Excel spreadsheets.

    When even a bright mind loses purposes, that bright mind goes nutso.

    How do we revamp purpose in society? 1) We must know the humility of our beloved Christ Jesus. 2) We must become more low-tech. 3) We must become poor again.

    How do we become poor? We stop stealing from the poor. Yes, most of us really do steal from the poor. It’s really easy to do. Usury is what does it. Usury steals from the poor because it stretches the upper margin of wealth. Jesus tells us to give without expecting return. That is how to lend money. If you get it back from them, great. If not, God will reward you.

    • The Next to Last Samurai

      Dave, you are a wise man.

    • Eve Fisher

      Dave, You are right on the money. I’ve worked in the criminal justice system and in education, and there is just no room in our society right now for those who simply cannot, and will never be able to graduate from high school, much less college – and yet they are God’s beloved people, and used to be able to find jobs that would support them and their families. Agricultural work, factory work, mechanical work, all kinds of jobs that have simply evaporated as everything has been mechanized and computerized to a fare-thee-well, and now it’s all, “Well, you just have to retrain.” Some people can’t. And to let them fall through the cracks and then call them lazy or criminal or anything else… Whew. Thanks for an excellent post.

  • Lee Johnson

    I’m so glad you’ve worked yourself into a Seattle-based lather talking about how to spend other people’s money and the awfulness of those Unclean Foxnews Viewers. While you have some lather going, my advice is take a bath, hippie.

    • chezami

      Seattle-based? Dude, the program saves money *and* gets people off the streets. So what’s the problem? And that closing line? Priceless. Way to get rid of that stereotype of the FOX viewer as a brainless ideologue mouthing slogans fed him by the Right Wing Noise Machine.

      • Lee Johnson

        I don’t have a problem with the program … it’s just sometimes you sound like you want to declare your bona fides to your long-haired, pot-smoking, fish-tossing, goddess-worshiping neighbors.

        • chezami

          And see, here’s the thing: thinking it’s good thing that poor people don’t freeze to death used to be what was called “Catholic” not “liberal”. So stop talking like somebody whose thinking is formed by FOX and you won’t make such an asinine assumption.

          • Lee Johnson

            Oh please. Your argument amounts to, “I brake for puppies” and those awful FoxNews viewers don’t.

            • chezami

              My argument amounts to “Some people won’t let reality impinge on ideology.” You provide a living illustration and have done nothing but call me names as a substitute for thought.

        • Elmwood

          Jesus had long hair. Pot is just another drug that is abused like alcohol, i’m sure it has some benefits. Not sure what fish tossing is (pike’s market?)

        • Dan C

          Because the culture war doesn’t have enough insults hurled back and forth.

          If only we spent more of yours and everyone’s money. I am all for more taxes.

          Walker Percy had an image of an AmChurch that was in schism with Catholicism. It celebrated Property Rights Sunday.

          • Lee Johnson

            “If only we spent more of yours and everyone’s money. I am all for more taxes.” LOL. Indeed.

            As far as insults, I didn’t start it. He did. 🙂

        • Dan C

          In terms of social justice, you are clearly not thinking with the Church. No commentary over the past 50 years has much consideration for lower taxes or a calculus that is libertarian or even one that has as an opening gambit: since you are out to spend other people’s money…

          This approach to Christianity, if you haven’t been paying attention for the past 30 years, has not won any positive attention or converts.

          In fact, it undermines all discussions that folks like Robert George has in terms of the role of government in a just and ordered society.

          You are not doing conservativism any favors.

          • Lee Johnson

            OK, now I am serious for a moment: I am so glad you are here in the comment box to tell me what I think and what the church thinks is an appropriate tax policy.

            I wrote my first series of stories on homelessness in 1986 and wrote on New Community Corporation in Newark (google it) 25 years ago. I am well aware of what it takes to deal with homelessness, thank you, as well as what is required to stitch together a broken community and broken lives.

            Re: Gambit? Be wary of too much rhetoric.

        • Jow

          How about mackerel-snapping? Mustn’t forget that.

          • Joe (not Jow)

            Oop. Joe not “Jow.”

        • orual’s kindred

          This is kind of like the Spaghetti Monster and Old Man Sky-Fairy stuff. The intent is there, but it just doesn’t really feel bad. A lot (if not most) of the damage being done is to the person who says and thinks these things.

  • Tim H

    I don’t know . . . hasn’t this all been done before in say Chicago with Cabrini Green or the recently torn down Robert Taylor homes? Guess I’m just a brainwashed old so and so though.

    On the other hand I spent last Sunday making beds at the Pacfic Garden Mission just south of the loop in downtown Chicago and I met a couple of guys making a real effort to turn their life around. The place has beds and a hot meal for about a thousand fellas each night. They’ve been going strong since 1877.

    Not sure social workers are going to be the answer when the crime starts, but a word about God who loves each of us so much he sent his only son to save us might.

  • Liam

    We in Seattle are very aggressive about these things as well. One of our more controversial programs seeks out the worst offenders and gives them free housing in a building run by the Downtown Emergency Service Center at 1811 Eastlake. The Journal of the American Medical association studied its effectiveness. The highlights from the study are found here:


    I’m a fireman and 1811 Eastlake is in my first due district. I’d be lying if I said I enjoy going there. 911 abuse still happens and most of the “emergencies” there are due to self neglect. That being said, the program works. I get in arguments about it with co-workers. They hate it, but you can’t argue with the numbers. The only way I can think of to save money without giving them housing or sending them out of town is to deny them emergency medical care, which is evil. If we were not allowed to provide emergency medical care to the homeless I would be forced to jeopardize my EMT certification by disobeying.

    Our aggression has produced an unintended effect. Other cities flood us with their homeless. Cities across the country give them bus tickets and tell them about all the services available here. It’s structured into their budgets. The Greyhound station is also in my first due. Almost every shift I go there and find someone who just got into town and wants to get plugged into our system at the county ER so they call 911. We’re already taking care of the nation’s homeless. We’re already subsidizing other towns who don’t care to do it themselves. We certainly deserve federal funding for it.

    • Cities across the country give [the homeless] bus tickets and tell them about all the services available here.

      That’s fascinating. I’ve never heard that part of it.

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    There is no “homeless problem.” There are “homeless problems.” One of the first principles taught in problem solving, the Pareto Principle, is that big problems are often multiple smaller problems that have been lumped together under a convenient label, and each of these problems is the result of different causes. The reason global solutions seldom work is that there is no global cause, but a host of particular causes. So the grandiose plans often work in theory — and sometimes work in practice for a short time. Then reality gets its boots laced up and the race is on.

    There was a project built the next block over from my childhood home and the residents of German Hill complained that it would breed crime. They were told they were prejudiced, and the projects were built by the Besserwissers. And the first generation to live there did okay. Many lifted themselves out of poverty. But as time went on, the professionally poor gradually aced out the temporarily poor; the druggies moved in and did not “move on up.” Crime skyrocketed and the neighborhood became unsafe. Gunfire was a regular occurrence, and the police siren a daily lullaby.

    A few years ago, the projects were torn down and the crime went away. Then after a respite, new “Section 8” housing was built that was a mixture of owner-occupied, rentals, single-and-multi-family dwellings. Housing for elderly, and so on. This time, they hope to create a community and not simply a warehouse for poor people. Maybe it will work.

    The Cuomo Commission, headed by the now-governor of New York, found back in the 80s (iirc) that the homeless in New York state consisted largely of the mentally ill (I think it was 80%). Another large chunk was composed of drug addicts. The third largest group was working poor who had lost their homes along with their jobs. (There was also a small number who simply liked being homeless, much as the hobos of my youth.) It is clear from this Pareto breakdown that providing affordable housing does not address the bulk of the problem. It helps group 3, but group 2 will abuse it and group 1 will be unable to keep it. Rehab might help group 2, but not 1 and 3. And so on. NYC started an apartment program under Mayor Koch as a way of refurbishing abandoned buildings and offering the apartments to homeless living in hotels and shelters. NYC still has homeless people, so this is clearly not a panacea. One solution does not cover all causes.

    • Liam

      Big fan of your blog, Ye Olde. I wish I could force (benevolently) all of Seattle to read your pieces on the Scientific Revolution and Galileo.

      I don’t know that the conclusions you draw from the Pareto breakdown are clear. Stress aggravates mental illness and addiction. The JAMA did a study finding that once people had secure food and housing they were more likely to address their more deep seated issues. People on the streets are always in crisis mode. They feel they need their night nurse (or 9AM nurse) to deal with the stress. Managing addiction and mental illness takes intense focus which is more likely to occur in a stable environment.

      Producing housing does not create homeless people. I don’t think you can incentivise homelessness. Oftentimes homelessness is a transitionary period. I would be surprised if NYC’s homeless population did not contain a large amount of people sent by other cities not wanting to take care of their own poor. We in Seattle see that constantly. Certain cities become the tip of the spear in addressing national homelessness.

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        Agreed, there is overlap among the categories, and much depends on the root cause. After all, by modern definitions, my father and his family were homeless for five years. That’s because you are counted as homeless if you are living with relatives, in this case, living with my mother’s parents for the first five years of their marriage. We were up to three brothers when we finally moved into our own house. Cases like that are why one always needs to understand the operational definition used in counting or measuring a thing.

    • Dan C

      So… Many homeless men are addicts and/ or mentally ill. Some women who are homeless are addicts or mentally ill. Women with children have been a substantively growing portion of the homeless due to less money in such budgets for alleviating the emergency of homeless families- something in the 1980’s that would be corrected and alleviated almost immediately-like out of the shelter system into some apartment pretty quickly. Those resources have been sliced in recent years.

      Low income housing is difficult. True.

      One of the previous barriers was that most housing for the addicted and the mentally ill required first one be treated or clean and sober. A more recent approach has experimented with less perfect behavior called risk reduction or harm reduction as opposed to clean and sober. It does change goal posts, but as described- many unwanted behaviors decline and communal health is often increased ( less drinking , less homeless folks on the streets, less expenses).

      But the thought our poor need to earn their “stuff” in some way is part of American approach to poverty. It is not a global or even Catholic approach.

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        A more recent approach has experimented with less perfect behavior
        called risk reduction or harm reduction as opposed to clean and sober.

        Let me know when this is set up in the neighborhoods of the policy-makers.

        “Earning one’s stuff” is typically required for building self-esteem, so you can start with an act of kindness, but you can’t let that go on. You’ve got to let people stand up for themselves and contribute. You can do this without either infantilizing them or shoving them out to do or die.

        A friend of mine works in a county welfare office, and I say two groups of people should be forced to work there for a time:
        a) conservatives, so they lean that the vast majority of clients are people in genuine need through no fault of their own.
        b) liberals, so they learn that there really are freeloaders and scam artists.

        • Dan C

          Your approach is what? Plan A again, but with more feeling?

          The approach that leaves addicts on the street and frequenting soup kitchens and shooting galleries etc has been one that has not left neighborhoods devastated? That has worked?

          What has worked for most municipalities is to drive their homeless into the nearest big urban city and just drop them off.

          And lest you think I have any delusions about the “holy poor” or believe that these exist in large numbers, you are trading in stereotypes.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Instead of leaving addicts on the streets, why not put them in treatment and detox? Perhaps try to learn why they became addicted in the first place. Maybe a rural atmosphere, where they can work forestry or some other useful task, learn a social skill, while they dry out.

            Enabling behavior seems contraindicated.

            For the mentally ill, those that are in clearly bad shape, some sort of commitment program like Mayor Koch tried with “Billie Boggs” before the courts decided she had a right to live on a heat vent and smear herself with her own feces. The homeless problem was far less before the asylums were closed. And it may well be that the mental hospitals were in need of better supervision and reform — much as many old age homes are today — but dumping them on the street as the libertarian solution was no favor to them.

            For the working poor, Habitats for Humanity works well. They built five or six houses on the next block from me. This is where affordable housing works best.

            • Dan C

              1. I am all for compulsory treatment of the psychotic which would absolutely erode civil liberties, providing power over citizens (albeit mentally ill citizens) to psychiatrists and governmental authorities in order to administer long term anti-psychotic pharmaceuticals (really the greatest gift to the stabilization of the chronically mentally ill). How well will that go over?

              2. The asylums (beginning to have certain humane but expensive demands laid upon them) were closed by a rare combination of conservatives and civll libertarians and activists. Conservatives wanted to end payment for these expensive psych institutes, and civil libertarians wanted these patients free. No laternatives were created or paid for.

              3. Now…treatment for the addict- these require insurance often. Detox and rehab are part of the great unfunding of the social safety net. We have far fewer than years ago. Waiting lists are long. And recidivism is high. I suspect compulsory rehab is meaningless yet tempting to desire for those of us who have struggled with the addict.

            • Dan C

              Relocating the minority poor- to anywhere. This is one of the challenges. Jobs are available and JobCorps placement is often successful-but service industry jobs outside a major city is the routine. So….travel and transportation (which in so many places is awful outside DC and NYC) is required. Suburban arrangements for low income housing is sometimes helpful to bring folks closer to their jobs, but not an apartment separate from their family is required.

  • Kirt Higdon

    I wonder if this is related to the fact that Utah has the lowest coefficient on the GINI Index of any US state at .419. New York and DC, strongholds of the financial and political elites, are the highest at .499 and .532 respectively. For those unfamiliar with the GINI index, it is a measure of relative equality or inequality in income distribution where 0.0 would be absolute equality and 1.0 would be absolute inequality (all the income goes to one person).


    For practical purposes at the national level, coefficients tend to run between .25 and .55. Virtually all countries fall somewhere in this range.

    The unmentioned elephant in this particular room is the Utah based LDS. It is scorned by the elites for its social conservatism, but both liberal and conservative Christians, Protestant and Catholic, treat it with suspicion. But Mormons are big on that solidarity thing which Blessed John-Paul II emphasized so much in Catholic social doctrine.

    Kirt Hidden

    • Kirt Higdon

      Should be “Higdon” – I managed to spell my own name incorrectly.

    • Elmwood

      This is interesting, but not surprising because the Mormon church requires 10% tithing, which is somewhat distributed among all Mormons plus they tend to help each other out with employment preferentially hiring other Mormons. It also may reflect the fact that they were an isolated cult-like community for many years in Utah which created their own social safety net.

  • Marthe Lépine

    It seems to me that the success of this program does not come only from providing housing to homeless people, but also with providing case workers. The story does not say what kind of help those case workers actually do bring, and it may depend on each case. But it means a certain kind of supervision that could go some way to prevent some of the “unexpected consequences” that are described by some of the comments, such as criminal elements eventually moving into those neighbourhoods, and other worries.Another element is probably the kind of solidarity among Mormons as described below by Elmwood. If more Catholics practiced that kind of solidarity, instead of putting their emphasis on a form of “subsidiarity” that sounds to me a lot like “passing the buck”, maybe poverty would considerably decrease. To those who claim that such initiatives are ways to “spend other peoples’ money”, or “stealing money from those who work in order to give it to those who are too lazy to work”, or other such arguments, I would reply that I have often been under the impression from reading various books about Christianity that whatever we think we own actually belongs to God, who gives us the freedom to do whatever we want with it, or something to that effect… But to be honest, that idea had always frightened me too.

  • Michael N

    “The Thing that Used to be Conservatism”

    Yes in the good ole days conservatism was immersed in Marxist philosophy, oh my what has happened to it?

  • What I always find interesting is how the talk radio conservatisim is never actually practiced anywhere. They always say “Look at the success of conservative governors in the states!” Yet the governors do things that the talk radio crowd despises, this idea being one of them. They are conservatives, but they also realize they have to actually govern, so we might as well do as much as we can to provide a conservative influence.

    They did something like this under the Bush years in a lot of cities, and its why homelessness has mostly stagnated, even during one of the worst financial crises in modern history. Yes, we need to teach self-sufficiency and work, but when you don’t have a roof under your head, it’s really hard to do any of those things.