Friday, September 17, 2004

Homeless and Hopeless

This article reminded me of an idea I had some time back (which means someone else probably though of it first). People don't want the homeless living on the streets, yet the homeless themselves can't exactly afford to rent hotels, or even parks much of the time. Why not a barracks?

Residents are given a bed, three meals a day, periodic coffee and snacks, a small amount of storage space, and basic medical and dental care (very basic). They are given a weekly allowance of, say, $50. A small library and basic laundry service is provided, as are basic substance abuse and other counseling programs. They can stay as long as they like (sorry, no retirement plan).

The catch? Residents must register with as much information as possible (name, birthday, SSN, etc.). Everyone must wear a uniform (provided) and some form of ID (dog tags or the implanted ID chip everyone goes on about). They have a curfew. Drugs and alcohol are prohibited, as is smoking inside. Residents take shifts in cleaning the premises and helping in the kitchen and laundry, and all jobs are inspected afterward. Residents have basic, low-education jobs during the day. Janitorial work, recycling centers, garbage collection, sewerage plant, maybe even a small farm. Attendance and tardiness are recorded.

Enough infractions (three minor, one major) results in expulsion. After six months of good ratings, they are allowed to use the barracks as a job reference to get an outside job and are eligible for basic education (financial and home management). Three months after gaining an external job, residents must find outside housing.

Personally, I think it would be a good idea. I admit my ignorance when it comes to the homeless, however. The most interaction I seem to have with them is them hitting me up for money (and even then, I don't know that they are in fact homeless). It seems that this would help put them on a schedule and get them used to working in the "real world" once again. They have someplace to live, yet they also help contribute to society.


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