E-R LTE / Harm Reduction

This letter refers to the article located at http://www.chicoer.com/social-affairs/20170811/harm-reduction-center-gathers-community-input 

The far-right E-R continues to hype Michael Madieros and that’s no surprise. 

One man’s opinion: 

Dear Editor, 

As Lloyd Pendleton so eloquently argued, you cannot solve the problem of homelessness without providing homes.  Pendleton’s “housing first” model prescribes individual housing units for the chronically homeless, because this works best.  Once housed, people can be assisted in managing disabilities. 

All of the above requires a federal solution and it’s certainly affordable: with 5% of one year’s military budget, we could build housing for every chronically homeless person in America. 

As much as we might like to think the Stairways “harm reduction” micro-program is some kind of answer, it isn’t.  Stairways Director Michael Madieros has a history of supporting criminalization laws, which ensnare the homeless in the criminal justice system. Madieros and his allies are drawing on right-wing methodology: spend next to nothing, except on police and criminalization, and claim we are on the high road. 

The possible harm in an over-exuberant description of harm reduction, is that it leads your readers to imagine wonderful things are being done for the poorest, disabled people. That is, in the absence of adequately funded, real solutions.  Consequently, your readers might just continue to make the mistake of voting for social program slashing, trickle-down politicians, thereby abetting failure. 

Ironically, those who complain loudest (commercial landlords) about the presence of the visible poor, are those who most vigorously support failing policies. The wealthiest among us get exponentially wealthier, while insisting on disowning failure. Voters should stop enabling them. 

Patrick Newman 

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