Get ’em off the streets

No legal right to harass citizens
and befoul the environment

No babies were eaten
in the production of today’s carbon-neutral blogge

Nothing is a better bet in guilt-ridden Madison than more tax money for the homeless. No government budget is complete without new initiatives to combat homelessness. Go ahead, cut the police and starve the fire department but do not step on my blue suede shoes.

It is progressive holy writ that “homelessness is a housing problem, it is involuntary, and it persists because of inadequate public spending.” That’s the nut graph from the essential Heather Mac Donald, the Manhattan Institute scholar whose work, from the evidence, is prohibited in the City-County Building in Madison. 

More free stuff 

Downtown Ald. Mike Verveer told Isthmus this summer businesses and residents have long complained about aggressive panhandling, drug dealing and fighting at the busy intersection where the Square meets State Street. “This has been an ongoing problem for several summers now,” Verveer says.

From the Badger Herald 10-01-19: Madison stakeholders are coming together to address homelessness in the State Street and downtown entertainment areas by initiating government activity and working with shelters.

Gov. Tony Evers, Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority Executive Director Joaquin Altoro and Wisconsin Interagency Council on Homelessness Director Michael Basford announced Sept. 18 funds will be allocated to projects that help the homeless.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway announced changes in July aimed at increasing the quality of life on State Street, and local officials and organizations are routinely pitching in on the effort. Solutions include installing port-a-potties and allocating lockers for belongings.


Credit: Associated Press

Free needles and beef jerky

Ms. Mac Donald examined San Francisco, which made a choice to tolerate vagrancy and encourage drug use, with dire results.” The social scientist writes:

The Health Department distributes 4.5 million syringes a year, along with alcohol swabs, vitamin C to dissolve heroin and crack, and instructions on how to tie one’s arm for a hit. Officials have installed 17 needle-disposal boxes and kiosks throughout the city, signaling to children that drug use is a normal part of adult life. Only 60% of the city’s free needles are returned; the rest end up on the sidewalks or in the sewers.

Outreach workers hand out beef jerky, crackers and other snacks. …

Guess what? “Free services and food—along with maximal tolerance for antisocial behavior — act as magnets.” In effect, Big Gummint is subsidizing your substance abuse.

Moving the needle?

In Dane county, In Dane County, 42% of homeless people are mentally ill; 29% abuse substances; 18% are victims of domestic violence. That’s according to an annual survey conducted by the Homeless Services Consortium of Dane County. 

Over the last five years, government spending has managed to reduce family housing by 37% compared to five years ago. But the needle hasn’t moved (so to speak) on the number of chronically homeless single adults. And over the last 12 months, chronic homelessness increased by 17%.

Solution: secure sheltered workshops

Comment, respond, what do you thinkMs. Mac Donald offers a solution that Blaska Policy Werkes has long supported (and is a rebuke to the “wet” housing at Rethke Court and Tree Lane):

Clean and sober campuses, serving an entire region, could be built on abandoned or undeveloped land in industrial zones and rural areas. Cities and counties should pool resources for these facilities, since the vagrancy problem is fluid — people move from one place to another. The bare-bones campuses must be immaculately maintained, safe and disciplined, so residents learn habits of self-control. Everyone should work.

Calling Speaker Vos

State legislation is needed to set up expedited judicial custody courts that would allow municipalities to intervene on behalf of chronic vagrants who are a danger to themselves and/or others. And the will to defend it in court. Set minimum but reasonable parameters, something like three citations for disorderly conduct; one or two instances of sleeping on a grate on a sub-zero night; 30 days in a 12-month period of roosting on a public bench; a psychiatric diagnosis that the person is a danger to self or society.

Fox News 6 in Milwaukee reports that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has given notices to those staying at a Milwaukee homeless encampment known as “Tent City” under the Marquette Interchange in Milwaukee to remove themselves and their property by the end of this month.

Heather’s Bottom Line“No one has a right to live in the most expensive real-estate market in the country, certainly not on the public’s dime. It isn’t clear why any city is morally obligated to provide housing to someone who starts living on its streets.” 

Blaska’s Bonus Bottom Line: Let’s not forget, street people are also prime victims — usually of other street people but also from punks who enjoy hurting others.

What do YOU think?


About David Blaska

Madison WI
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11 Responses to Get ’em off the streets

  1. Gary L. Kriewald says:

    “This has been an ongoing problem for several summers now,” observes Ald. Verveer (I imagine that line being delivered in a tone of Olympian complacency.) Guess what, Mike. The sky is blue and the grass is green, even in Madison. This dolt has been in office for decades and was probably voted for by the very business owners who are suffering from the blight of homelessness that’s metastasizing by the week. (Also, the problem isn’t just a seasonal one.) The fact that decent citizens can’t enjoy or feel safe in the public spaces their tax dollars pay for is a disgrace, but allowing bums, misfits, winos, addicts, psychos and assorted ne’er-do-wells to set up housekeeping wherever they wish (and to be designated a ‘protected class’ into the bargain) is clear evidence of the boundless compassion of the liberal elites who run this town. Ms. McDonald’s solution is eminently sensible, which is why it doesn’t stand a chance in Madison. Am I the only one who doesn’t hear the squeals of “Concentration camps!” and Gulags!”? I might–might–have some sympathy for these people if they weren’t living in a city where the unemployment rate is zero–meaning that anyone who really wants a job can find one–and where every social service under the sun is available free for the asking. If you’re living on the street and degrading the quality of life for everyone else, you deserve a one-way bus ticket out of town (maybe to SF, Portland, Seattle) delivered with a stern warning never to show your face here again.


  2. M. Olson says:

    A lot of stones flying here, wow! The remedy requires “everyone works,” at what? Where? How about getting to the campus. The answer is the 60% you cite as victims or ill. This issue isn’t new, quit sounding like it is.


    • Paula Fitz says:

      Depending on the severity and type of disease, most people with mental illnesses CAN work AND lead productive lives if given the RIGHT resources.

      Porta-potties and free housing placed smack dab in the middle of stable neighborhoods are not the RIGHT RESOURCES, however. Citizens have a right to feel safe in their own neighborhoods without feeling guilty about it. People have a right to go downtown without fear of getting knocked over the head, and business owners shouldn’t have to put up with people shooting up in their public restrooms. And they have a right to feel that their government gives a flying shit about them.

      What I do understand is that mentally ill have fewer resources than in the past. If you have a disabling illness and no support system, it’s easy to end up on the streets. I SO get this, I really do.

      Nobody in a political leadership capacity is working on REAL solutions, though. Case in point: the MPD detentions issue; can’t tell you how many times several of us have brought up this broken process to decision-makers. This could have been something that was solvable, but no, they’d rather work on bullshit.

      It’s sickening.


    • Sprocket says:

      The issue isn’t new, neither is the solution. Those with debilitating mental illnesses should be institutionalized, everyone else should get a foot in the ass and a bus ticket to the west coast. There is a portion of the homeless population that suffers from severe mental illness, things like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They are incapable of managing their lives and require constant supervision to keep them from living miserable squalid lives. There is much larger portion that, while having psychological issues, primary suffer from being drug addled losers.

      Campuses for the homeless sound like a disaster. Why should the average citizen have his pocket picked because his life plans include going to work rather than sit on a stoop and huffing spray paint? The government is not a taxpayer funded self actualization retreat. Anyone who is not working in this economy is either unwilling to work or fundamentally unemployable. To think that there is an end to the amount of resources these people, and the government grifters employed to manage them, will consume is delusional. San Francisco spends $250 million per year on the homeless and all they have to show for it are streets littered with passed out junkies and human feces.


    • dad29 says:

      “Everyone works……at What? How?”

      You may be far too young to remember the Milwaukee County orphan asylum. Parts of it are still standing on the County Grounds just north of Watertown Plank Road and just east of Hy. 100. Very nice buildings!!

      Anyhow, the orphans ALL worked. Planted and harvested their own food. Raised livestock for the same reason. Cooked, cleaned, went to school–all right there on the grounds.

      There. That wasn’t hard, was it? Any other questions??


      • Cornelius Gotchberg says:


        “Any other questions??”

        Just one; what will Lefty do if they can’t work the victimhoodie angle and its attendant more More MORE free $#!T (funded with Other People’s Money) solution…?

        The Gotch


  3. Paula Fitz says:

    “Guess what? “Free services and food—along with maximal tolerance for antisocial behavior — act as magnets.” In effect, Big Gummint is subsidizing your substance abuse.”

    Couldn’t agree more!

    There are people, my God, who through no fault of their own, have challenges in life, like a disabling mental illness. If you have no support system or no way to get treatment, you’re stuck on the streets. This nation has let the mentally ill (and veterans and elderly, while we’re at it) down in an epic way. There by God’s good Grace go any of us. So yes, I want my tax dollars to fund programs to help these people.

    But, and this is a huge but. What the Progressives aren’t doing is helping or philanthropic or caring, It’s ENABLING, and there’s a big difference.

    Are their programs well thought out and planned, considering the needs of both the indigent as well as the regular taxpaying citizen? Hell, no.

    Giving people free stuff without expecting accountability is more about making the giver (of OUR money) feel good about themselves and socking it to responsible citizens, who I’ve come to believe Progressives hate with every fiber of their being. I have thoughts on why this, but will save that for another day.

    Tree Lane, for example: The City essentially forced people to accept the free housing project in their solid neighborhood, like it or not. It’s absolutely insane to me that we’re giving away free residence without any expectations of employment or staying out of trouble. How, precisely is this helping anyone?

    By the way, depending on the severity and type of disease, most people with mental illnesses can work AND lead productive lives if given the right resources.


  4. Tom Paine says:

    Heroin is a gateway drug to liberalism. Though some may argue that liberalism is a gateway drug to heroin. No matter. More pot. Future generations cannot be denied. Start’m young. Then, perhaps, utopian outcomes will be plain for all to see.


  5. Cornelius Gotchberg says:

    The good news? It could BE a WHOLE lot worse!

    The bad news? It could GET a WHOLE lot worse!

    To wit:

    Seattle is dying; this is long, but the gist is in the 1st Two Minutes.

    A MUST READ, by a Seattle cop: Hey, Everybody, Let’s Go to Freeattle!

    File this with the rest of the Nothing To See Here reality: Municipalities with the biggest homeless problems consider themselves the most Progressive and have historically been “governed” (a term I use advisedly) with that in mind.

    The Gotch


  6. dad29 says:

    because of inadequate public spending.
    Indeed. The inadequacy is exclusively on mental asylums, due to the ACLU (natch.)
    The solution you propose is close enough….


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