Sunday, March 29, 2015

More handouts for the homeless

By Fraser Shilling and Marintha Iverson

Our kids often joke about the number of Priuses with Obama stickers one can spot in Davis. Sometimes they have faith-related stickers on them, too. Out-of-towners make fun of, or are jealous of, our liberal reputation, the “Republic of Davis.”

Apparently someone forgot to tell the heretofore anonymous “stakeholder group” on “how to deal with the homeless” about our liberal nature. The police are waffling about whether and when there might have been an increase in panhandling and the people “who simply appear to be homeless,” as The Enterprise so eloquently put it. The surge in “aggressive panhandling” and taking advantage of our generous liberal nature has some up in arms.

In conversation last night with some people standing around looking homeless, we found out that services are inconsistent, sometimes by lottery, and often with hidden strings attached. We found this out after eating a nice $50 meal at de Vere’s Irish Pub and catching a movie and gelato ($26) at the Varsity Theatre. Would it really have killed our pocketbook to give a handout?

By displacing our handouts through “service organizations,” as the “stakeholder group” suggests, we would never have to connect with our fellow humans on the street. No one has to get their hands dirty. We can stop being a town that is reportedly attractive to homeless people for its generous spirit. We can clean up invisible camps on the edge of the city in vacant lots. We can make sure that dehumanizing service relationships replace the handout, the donation by hand from one human to another, that seems to upset the ghostly “stakeholders.”

From our respective professions as a scientist involved in actual stakeholder processes and a mental health professional, we say that the suggestions of the so-called “stakeholder group” (who are they, anyway?) are vile.

This whole thing seems like a nefarious scheme, a cover, a façade so that the Davis community does not have to interact with homeless people. Well, we are the Davis community and we want to interact with people. We are not “faith-based,” but we imagine that Jesus would rant and holler at the idea that “faith-based groups” were involved in this scheme.

Our apparently homeless person contact said that this whole deal may be a deterrent for homeless people to come to Davis, which maybe is the subterranean goal of these “city representatives.” Whatever their squalid goals and whoever they are, they are not us and we will continue to give out handouts and we invite fellow Davisites to wear their humanity proudly and join us in our giving.

— Fraser Shilling and Marintha Iverson are Davis residents.



Special to The Enterprise

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