]]]]]]]]]]]           HELPING THE HOMELESS          [[[[[[[[[[[[[[
           Why Private Care Is Far Superior to Public   (2/6/1989)

        [From Human Events, 4 February 1989, pp. 5:2-6:2]
            [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 10602PANC]

   [First and second paragraphs omitted.]
   In  a remarkable  series on  the homeless  aired on  WRC-TV in
Washington, reported Jack Cloherty investigated services provided
to  the  homeless  by  two privately  run  and  two  publicly run
shelters (Pierce and Blaire).  The series went on to win an award
given by Washington Monthly,  a neo-liberal magazine published in
the Nation's Capital.
   As the WRC cameras showed,  the words ``service'' and ``care''
could  not  even  be  applied  to  the  two  city-run  government
shelters.   Entering the  Pierce  shelter was  like  entering the
outer rings of hell, while  conditions in the Blaire shelter were
so disgraceful Cloherty and his camera crew were not even allowed
   At Pierce, the camera revealed urine-soaked mattresses with no
sheets and broken toilets  overflowing with human filth.  Showers
--  just four  of them  for the  roughly 200  men the  shelter is
supposed to hold  each night --  were clogged with  rust and were
barely functional.  Soap was scarcer than in the Soviet Union and
towels were never provided.  The place was infested with rats.
   One homeless man interviewed by  Cloherty said he got lice and
scabies from spending a night  at the shelter, while another said
he would rather spend the night  on the streets than in either of
the city-run facilities.
   In  addition  to  the  fear  of  catching  lice  and  scabies,
according to Sister Ronnie Daniels,  a nurse who tries to provide
some health care to those  desperate enough to use the government
shelters, men tend to shun the city-run facilities because ``they
are afraid  that when  they get  here, they  will be antagonized.
Violence  here  is  very  high.''   That's  because  by  law, the
shelters  cannot turn  anyone away,  even those  acting violently
towards other residents.
   What makes  this situation  even more  outrageous is  its $1.2
million annual pricetag.  Under  D.C. law, maintenance and repair
of  the  two shelters  must  be  done by  the  city,  while their
day-to-day operations are  contracted out to  the D.C. Council of
Churches.   But  virtually none  of  that $1.2  million  goes for
maintenance   and   repairs,   as   Cloherty   discovered   after
interviewing a  number of city  officials.  The great  bulk of it
goes  to pay  the  salaries of  the  52 workers  assigned  to the
   When Cloherty asked the head of the shelter program whether it
has ``become a situation where  the shelter serves the staff more
than the [homeless] men,'' the official denied it.
     But the denial was hollow.  In the name of compassion and
   caring for  the homeless,  D.C. taxpayers  are being bilked
   annually of $1.2 million to  line the pockets of government
   In  startling  contrast,  Cloherty  visited  shelters  run  by
private   groups.     At   the    Central   Union    Mission,   a
non-denominational Christian rescue  mission, the facilities were
spotless.  All men coming  to the shelter are  required to take a
shower and  they are  provided with towels  and their  own set of
toiletries.  Those  needing it  are treated  for lice.  Bedsheets
are cleaned and changed every day.  Hot meals are provided.
   All this is remarkable enough.   But the Central Union Mission
provided such  sanitary and high-quality  care for  about 100 men
per night  at a cost  of approximately  $300,000 annually.  While
the city shelters supposedly offer a place to sleep for about 200
men each  night, they  do so  at a  cost four  times that  of the
private mission and its surroundings are worse than medieval.
   Furthermore,  as Dr.  Robert Rich,  executive director  of the
Central Union Mission told HUMAN EVENTS, the shelter for homeless
men  is just  one  of 19  social  service ministries  the mission
provides.   The  total  annual cost  of  these  19  ministries is
$900,000 -- still  less than what  the city pays  to run just two
decrepit shelters.
   A similar story can be told of other private homeless shelters
that  Cloherty  visited  at  the  Luther  Place  Memorial Church.
According to shelter director  Pam Hollander, the church provides
a  number of  shelters that  can  accommodate about  100 homeless
women  each  night at  an  annual  cost of  about  $450,000.  The
shelters are  able to  provide the  homeless women  with showers,
laundry facilities, clean clothes, clean beds and hot meals.
   Rich, who is also an ordained minister, told HUMAN EVENTS that
one  of the  main reasons  his  group has  been so  successful in
providing such outstanding care for  the homeless is that ``we're
not bureaucrats.  We  have a staff  of 18 who  are salaried.  But
for  us  it's not  a  job, it's  a  ministry.  That  makes  a big
difference in the  way you treat  people.''  Hollander gave HUMAN
EVENTS a  similar assessment.  ``The  key is  attitude.  It's not
just  a job,  it's  a calling  based on  the  belief that  we are
children of God and that those we serve are children of God.''
   The Luther Place  shelter accepts a small  amount of local and
federal  funds, but  the  bulk of  its  money comes  from private
   Rich, on the other hand,  refuses to take any government funds
because  he  fears  the  restrictions  this  would  place  on his
programs.  According  to Rich,  ``The government  tries to change
your curriculum, telling you what you can do and cannot do.''
   The most important restriction that accepting government money
would entail, Rich explained, is ``that there could be no chapel,
no religious  service.  We have  chapel service   every night for
the men.  You  can't have a  spiritual aspect for  any program in
the public sector.  It's not allowed.''
   But this  aspect, forbidden  in public  shelters, is  vital to
helping the homeless overcome their plight, Rich believes.
   ``It's not  just physical,  it's also  emotional and spiritual
care,'' Rich told HUMAN  EVENTS.  ``You can give  a man who comes
in here good food  and clean clothes, which  we do.  You can give
him a shower  and a shave  and a clean  bed.  He can  walk out of
here looking like a million dollars  in the morning and then come
back the same night looking like he did the first time.
   ``But when you get to the soul and the heart and the mind, and
that man sees that he can do something better and with the Lord's
help he will, then you are on the road to recovery.''
   Both the  Central Union Mission  and the  Luther Place shelter
reserve the right to refuse to accommodate violent and disruptive
individuals.   As Rich  told HUMAN  EVENTS, public  shelters also
``should be allowed  to take a  man who won't  keep the peace and
show him  the door.   When a man  is shown  the door  in a public
shelter, he must be down to line zero in his conduct and he needs
to be made to think about that.''
     Hollander expressed a similar view.  ``In our shelter, if
   people are violent  they are asked to  leave.  No drugs, no
   alcohol, no weapons, no violence.   Whether it is public or
   non-public, you must at some  point make a decision for the
   good of the community as opposed to the individual.''
   President Bush is on record as supporting full funding for the
McKinney Act for the Homeless, which authorizes money for various
homeless  programs  that  are   scattered  through  a  number  of
government agencies.
   But full  funding for  that act  would throw  almost a billion
dollars at ill-planned and  ill-conceived programs.  As currently
conceived,  these government  programs  come with  any  number of
restrictions that work against model efforts of private providers
of homeless care such as Dr. Rich.
   There is  a lesson  for the  Bush Administration  in the stark
contrast between public and private  sector care for the homeless
here in Washington.   Indeed, Bush has  a golden opportunity with
the  homeless  issue to  forge  a true  conservative  agenda that
stresses   private   initiative   over   patronizing   government
bureaucracy in helping the poor.
   If government is to spend money  on the homeless, it should do
so in  a way  that encourages,  not hinders,  the private sector.
The object  is to  ignite a thousand  points of  light, not snuff
them out.

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