Posts Tagged ‘homeless


Homeless Man Learns to Code His Way Out of Poverty


Leo and Patrick

Whether or not we like to admit it we all have our perceptions of homelessness. Some of us feel so bad that we always give them food or money. Others will not even look at them. I personally have had some experiences with homeless people that have led me to what I now believe about them.

In this article found below, a man has given a homeless man the option of $100 outright or to teach him how to code. The homeless man, Leo, chose to learn how to code. I am simply amazed to see that people are against such an idea.

I don’t understand why people are against the idea of teaching someone a skill instead of giving them a handout. First off, Leo chose the training over the money. Secondly, IMHO the training will go much further than $100. Let’s just say that someone sees his coding and hires him on for a project or for something more. Sure the $100 is a sure thing, but if he works at it and has heart then he can potentially turn that training into a new life. Look at some of the greats of our time – Michael Jordan was told that he couldn’t play. It was his training and his heart that made him into arguably the best basketball player of all time. Numerous CEOs made their starts as nobodies – Bill Gates started as a dropout in his garage and made it work because he trained and he had heart. Nikola Tesla and other scientists were called crazy but their training and heart drove them to create things that we still use today on a daily basis.

And what about you? Have you tried to get a job lately? More than likely if you have then you have seen the “experience required.” If Leo just took the $100 then that wouldn’t have got him any closer to the required experience for him to be hired, to get the house, to get meals for the rest of his life, or to get his message sent out to the world about the environment. All that $100 would have got him was a few meals, a trip, or maybe something unconstructive such as drugs or alcohol.

People are comparing this to the “teach the man to fish…” story – and rightly so. If you give a man a fish… after he is done he has nothing – he still relies on you to fish for him. If you teach a man to fish then he now knows how to provide for himself.

In my experience there are two types of homeless – those who want the handout and those who want to be back on their feet. I think Leo is the latter. Shame on you who think it is a bad idea to give a homeless man a choice between a handout and a possible way out of poverty.

Patrick McConlogue is a lot like the many others working in the New York tech scene. Every morning, he walks to work, passing a few homeless people on the streets, and then spends the rest of his day at a computer, writing software code for a 35-person startup.

But the 23-year-old engineer didn’t think those two parts of his day had to stay separate. Earlier this week, he made an offer to one of those homeless men.

“I walk by a homeless guy every day on the way to work and I get this feeling every day that he is a smart guy — he has books and he writes,” McConlogue told ABC News. “I was trying to think of a way to engage him and help him.”

McConlogue approached Leo, a 36-year man who lives on the streets of lower Manhattan, on Thursday and gave him two options.

The first was $100 in cash.

“I figured that was enough for a ticket some place or a few meals, if that’s what he wanted,” McConlogue said.
The second option on the table was a laptop, three JavaScript books and two months of coding instruction from McConlogue.

After hearing the offer, Leo, who McConlogue described as very articulate and gifted, especially in on the topic of environmental issues, decided to take the coding option. “I want to spread knowledge and information about climate change and global warming,” Leo told ABC News in a phone interview facilitated by McConlogue.

Soon, McConlogue will deliver him a Samsung Chromebook with 3G connectivity, three JavaScript books, a solar charger for the laptop and something to conceal the laptop in. He will spend an hour before work every morning teaching him the basics of software coding.

McConlogue began documenting his plans to help Leo on the blogging platform Medium earlier this week and has seen a mix of reactions.

The technology community, in particular, was critical of his first post, which was titled, “Finding the unjustly homeless, and teaching them to code.” Many commenters criticized McConlogue for using the word “unjust,” which he admitted was a poor word choice.

Still, some writers heavily criticized McConlogue’s effort beyond that.

Techcrunch editor-in-chief Alexia Tsotsis said McConlogue was “tone-deaf” and that his plan demonstrated “a profound cluelessness about poverty and the disenfranchised.”

Slate’s Matthew Yglesias argued that housing, not coding, is the first step in fixing homelessness.

Then, Slate’s Will Oremus called him a “naive techie.”

“My thought is that technology will do a better job connecting him, in the long term, to what he wants.”
But along with the critics, there were those who supported his effort. More than 1,200 people have liked the “Journeyman” Facebook page McConlogue has set up about the project and he said he has even heard from some previously homeless individuals who see the effort as useful.

Leo himself, who is aware of the online chatter, said that he is understanding of the criticism. “It’s America, people have the right to have their opinions,” he said. “It’s the Internet, people have the right to post what they want. I agree to disagree.” When asked about housing Leo said that he thought “housing was great for people who want to be put in housing, for people who want and need it.”

Ultimately, McConlogue says he is offering what he can right now to help.

“Being able to code will help him do some of the things he wants to do,” McConlogue said. “The negative feedback is that you should give him housing and food. My thought is that technology will do a better job connecting him, in the long term, to what he wants.”

McConlogue plans to keep blogging about the experience on Medium and Leo himself will write the next post. He said he doesn’t have plans to do anything with the larger homeless community at this point, however.

“I’ve tried to build products for the many before, but I wonder if this new generation is building projects for the power of one,” he said. “I am going to do a really good job with this guy. I will learn from him, maybe even more than he learns from me.”


Homeless Advocates Must Face Facts

by C.J. Carnacchio (Original here)

Back in the 1980s, homeless advocates were often fond of telling their media lapdogs that there were anywhere from two to three million homless in the United States. But, both the Urban Institute and the U.S. Census Bureau estimate the number of homeless to be in the neighborhood of 300,000 to 600,000. Despite this hard evidence, many American still believe that there are millions of homeless and consequently there is a “homeless crisis” in the U.S.

Liberals and homeless advocates have succeeded in manufacturing this so-called crisis not only by exaggerating numbers but also by distorting the truth about the roots of homelessness. The media has served as an all too willing accomplice in the advocates Machiavellian charade. In his book Rude Awakenings, Richard W. White Jr. points out that “homelessness became a crisis to most Americans after the media introduced the term and labeled it a crisis. Before then it was not a crisis or even a problem.” Reporters never questioned the statisitic or the claims of the homeless advocacy’s propaganda.

Both advocates and the media portray the homeless as simply ordinary Americans down on their luck; victims of cruel economic forces and a housing crisis. They delight in telling us that we are all just one paycheck away from living ont he streets. But the pure down-on-my-luck group is relatively small; about 15 percent. They are highly visible in media stories about the homeless because advocates learned long ago that this group elicts the most support for their cause.

Ignored is the prominence of substance abuse, criminal behavior, and mental illness which highlights the majority of the homeless. Advocates and the media neglect to tell us that seven out of ten homeless have been institutionalized at one time or another; this includes mental hospitals, detoxification centers, and prison.

Advocates and the media always argue that it is external forces, not individual choices, that lead to homelessness. Personal repsonsibility is never an issue. They place the blame on face-less corporations, evil Republicans, and a selfish society.

Consequently, many homeless have become more offensive and even violent in their behavior as they have come to believe that everyone who passes them owes them something. They used to beleive that their plight was their own fault but as White observes, “Now, because of what they [homeless] hear in protest songs, read in newspapers, see on television, hear from advocates, or learn from the social system, they think that their condition is someone else’s fault. Some act as if they are morally superior to people who work and raise a family.” But, the fact is, that in the majority of cases, the homeless are either directly repsonsible for their plight or some individual-based problem is at work.

Advocates refuse to acknowledge that there is a certain percentage of homeless who CHOOSE to live that way. They are not willing to assume the responsibilities associated with maintaining a job and a permanent residence. They prefer the mythical “freedom” of the streets and turn down shelter even when its offered to them.

Next, current estimates indicate that roughly a third or more of the homeless are drug addicts or alcoholics. Homeless advocates argue that substance abuse is a result, not a cause, of homelessness. They reason that such substances are used by the homeless to escape the reality of their wretched lives thereby absolving them of any responsibility or blame.

But, as White points out, “In Los Angeles’ inner city, Paul Koegel and M. Audrey Burnam found that nearly 80 percent of alcoholics in their sample of homeless adults ‘reported that their first alcoholic symptom occurred before they were first homeless’ and that in 57 percent of the cases this occurred at least five years before their first episode of homelessness.”

Alcoholism and drug abuse are the result of individual choices such as a willingness to sacrifice career, family, and health in favor of getting high. Human beings are capable of both good and bad decisions, but no matter which road is taken, responsbility must always be assigned to the individual choice-maker.

Many homeless advocates have failed to see that their aid programs have in fact perpetuated substance abuse. As Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, a clinical and research psyciatrist, pointed out, “When one is addicted to alcohol or drugs, the highest priority is to save as much money as possible to feed that addiction. Present homeless policies, which in some cities have guaranteed free beds and food for everyone who asks, have probably exacerbated rather than relieved the problem of homeless substance abuse.” These free services coupled with the homeless’ panhandling incomes (and in some cases welfare benefits) allow them to fund their self-destructive habits and perpetuate a cycle of dependency.

The frequency of criminal behavior is another aspect of the homeless population advocates fail to mention. In his book Without Shelter: Homelessness in the 1980s, Peter H. Rossi found that 42 percent of the homeless, catalogued in 16 studies, spent some amount of time in jail or prison. Again, advocates argue that desperation forces the homeless into criminal activity. But a 1986 study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 61 percent of homeless’ jail time occurred before their homelessness and even “suggested that [unsuccessful] crime leads to homelessness.”

Experts also estimate that another third of the homeless suffer from severe mental illness. While clearly this is not the result of bad individual choices, it is still a problem confined to the individual and not in anyway society’s fault. But, advocates argue that it is the stress of homeless life which causes these mental problems. But, in the book Homelessness, Health, and Human Needs, the Institute of Medicine found that severe mental illnesses “are unlikely to result from the trauma of homelessness.” In fact, few psychiatrists still subscribe to the notion that menatal illnesses such as schizophrenia can happen to anyone given the right environmental conditions; no matter how stressful.

The mentally ill homeless should either be institutionalized, put into the care of family members or legal guardians, or forced, as a condition of being allowed into society, to take the necessary medications to control their illness. Many of the homeless could function in society if only they took their medication. But groups like the American Civil Liberties Union will not allow these measures because they would infringe upon the homeless’ civil rights.

But, as psychiatrist/columnist Charles Krauthammer retorted, “For the severely mentally ill, however, liberty is not just an empty word nut a cruel hoax. Free to do what? What does freedom mean for a paranoid schizophrenic who is ruled by voices commanded by his persecutors and rattling around in his head?” The ACLU is more interested in defending their right to sleep in parks and bus terminals than actiully salvaging their lives. It is precisely this kind of feeble thinking that has led to the idiocy of the “homeless rights” movement.

People who pay taxes to support the streets and parks ought to be able to enjoy them in relative safety and comfort. But Supreme Court decisions such as Papachristu v. United States, which delcared vagrany laws unconstitutional, and a New York City judge’s protection of panhandling as a form of free speech have taken away the ability to maintain order. Public places have been surrendered to people who take no responsibility for them or themselves. New York columnist John Leo observed the result: “Sandboxes become urinals. Swings are broken. Evey park bench seems to be owned by a dozing schizophrenic. When the cycle is complete, the community withdraws, serious druggies and criminals move in.”

Contray to popular belief, it is not selfish to demand the unharassed use of public facilities. The exercise of individual liberties in public places is not unlimited. It is in fact contingent upon the maintenance of public order. Others must be free to enjoy the commons in peace. But, groups like the ACLU have shown little interest in relating rights to responsibilites.

As William Donohue stated in his book The New Freedom, “Push one person’s rights too far and the result is the emasculation of someone else’s rights. Elevate rights to a status of an absolute and the result is the destruction of other values.” Rights must always be balanced by responsibilities; individual liberties with the commonweal.

One last point that homeless advocates and the media fail to mention, is that much of the homeless population is a testament to the failure of liberal government housing policies. These so-called reform have destroyed the majority of the single-room-occupancy-hotels or “flophouses” the homeless used to live in.

While these places sometimes lacked bedding, heat, and water and were not very comfortable, they did provide a night’s shelter for a very low cost. Sociologist Ernest van den Haag summed up the reforms’ results: “Policians, bureaucrats, and bleeding hearts waxed indigant about the deprivations people suffered in cheap lodgins which lacked amenities. Their solution? Get rid of these cheap lodgings. The former customers, unable to afford more expensive lodgings, now have to sleep on the streets. In effect the government decided that it was better for people to have no roof over their head than to live in places that do not have hot water.”

All things considered, the Left has no real interest in an honest and frank discussion about the true roots of homelessness or the role of personal responsibility. Why should they? The homeless provide them with living political symbols of what they claim is the failure and injustice of capitalism coupled with the cruelty of the wealthy. They are paraded before the media as vicitims of evil Republican policies. Such images fuel feelings of guilt in many voters who consider themselves well off by comparison. This guilt transaltes into calls for increased State action which in turn generates a larger electoral base for the Democrats and the further growth of the behemoth State. By all accounts it is to the Left’s advantage that the homeless stay homeless. Compassion indeed.


Even the Homeless Don’t Like Pizza Hut?

Homeless ManOK, so I am pretty sure that they like Pizza Hut – but they don’t like it.

So during my lunch break I got some pizza hut. I think it was a #2, so it was a pepperoni pizza and bread sticks. I went outside to eat since it was nice outside and a homeless lady was making her rounds asking for change. Now, for the most part, and from what I could hear, people were pretty courteous. They simply said, “No, I don’t have any change. Sorry.” There was only one person that acted like they didn’t even hear the homeless. I personally think that is wrong – to ignore a human being like that. When she came to me, I politely told her that I didn’t have any change – and I didn’t. But even if I did, I still wouldn’t give them change. I know, I know… what a bastard since he won’t give them any money. But let me explain…

I have never ignored a homeless person. I’ve always politely told them that I don’t have any money for them. I’ve even said “hi” to them when they were just sitting there. There simply, in my mind, no reason to act as if they don’t exist. I used to give them money if I had it, but not anymore. And here is why. I had a friend that knew where some homeless people lived. He decided that he wanted to befriend them. Ya know, be their friend when everyone else ignored them. So I joined this friend and decided that I too was going to be their friend. When I went to go see them, they instantly got all crazy and told me that they were going to kill me. They said that the “pigs” were out to get them and that I was a nark here to spy on them. They thought that it would be easier to just kill me and eliminate a possible stoolie than to accept my word – that I just wanted to be their friend. I actually feared for my life that night as they seemed fairly determined to fulfill that desire for my blood. It was a pretty crazy night and that is just a condensed version of it. Point of this story? Those homeless people wanted to be homeless. They did not want anyone except fellow homeless people in their life.

Today’s story went something like this. I ate my entire pizza but still had 2 bread sticks left over that I didn’t even touch (3 in a pack). I saw that same lady that was making her rounds earlier, so I took those break sticks over to her and offered them to her. So what did she do? She got pissed that I was offering her that. She asked me why I wouldn’t give her money, and then busted out in tears. What? So I just tossed the food away. I was pretty disturbed at this. I went out of my way, out of the kindness of my heart, to give her something she didn’t have. And she had the audacity to try to make a scene of me (crying), refuse my gift, and then got mad at me. I don’t get it.

So that is my question to all you out there… We want to get the government involved to help these people? Why is it that these people will take money from my hand in a heart beat, but refuse my food like they don’t need it? What is it that the government is going to do for these people that I didn’t? And will they take that? And if they do take what the government gives them, why will they take it from the government and not me?

With that said, I don’t have a problem with homeless in general. I was at a Wendy’s one time and a homeless lady was scraping change to get a burger. She didn’t have enough, so she walked away with nothing. I ordered her a burger and fries and went and gave it to her, and she was grateful. I have no problem with homeless people like that. People like her are probably the homeless person that will do anything to not be homeless. The rest of them – forget it, I truthfully think that they have chosen that life and want nothing to do with society other than getting their donations.

But with that said, do I need to pay more taxes that will go to these people that want to be homeless? Your thoughts?


The American Dream

American Dream ManWhen one mentions the “American Dream,” many people think of owning a home, having a spouse, a dog, and white picket fence. However, I think the American dream is much bigger than that – it is a dream that anyone can be anything they want to be – all with a little hard work, of course.

So a young man set out with a gym bag, the clothes on his back, $25, and moved down to the homeless shelter to test this theory. He abandoned all his old contacts and even his degree – so that when he went to find a job he would have to tell them that he had no address, no education, no means of communication (cell phone).

Ten months later he had moved into an apartment, bought a pickup truck, and had saved close to $5,000. Ten! Ten months!

How is that for living the American Dream?

So, as for poverty in America, is it really impossible for people to crawl out from the poverty line? Or is this just a myth? What do you think?

Original Article: Homeless: Can you build a life from $25?


"We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth... For my part, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst; and to provide for it." - Patrick Henry

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