Today we were summoned to a local meeting room for a discussion of homelessness here in southwest MN. Turns out the discussion was rather one sided, as ’twas just a media event for HUD to proclaim that chronic homelessness had been eliminated here, at least according to their count and definition. Having patted themselves on the back and brown nosed the local social service agency staff present, HUD offered a few minutes press availability before high tailing it outa town.
That was my opening, took off my imaginary city council member hat, put on the press hat, and asked the question they didn’t want to hear: We’ve had homeless people in my little town of 39, I know of a mayor of a small town in southwest MN that’s struggled with homelessness, so how come our numbers don’t jive?
Turns out HUD is counting chronic homelessness only, which they define as being homeless for a year or more amongst other measures. Now what homeless person here on the tundra is going to stay the winter? That makes it damn easy to have no homeless people in Southwest Minnesota when if they as much wander south to Iowa or get an apartment for a month they aren’t officially homeless anymore. And for a Trump administration that’s trying to look like they’ve accomplished something, anything, it’s a low bar to meet. So sadly a lot of good democrats that know otherwise and concerned local folks were co-opted by HUD into this self congratulating media event.
Truth is, we’ve got homeless people here and everywhere, often for want of simple needs like transportation to a 20 mile away job or funds to fix up their house. Yup, I’ve actually met homeless people out here that own homes free and clear but can’t afford repairs to make them habitable. As for the transportation problems, I brought this up with “roads and bridges” advocate and legislator Chris Swedinski and he tried to talk it down. This is the same legislator who thinks everyone should have their own snowplow instead of those “socialized” government snowplows. When I mentioned to him the basement flooding many of our citizens experienced these last few days and my attempts to acquire a heavy duty pump for our town, he told me we each need to buy our own pumps, generators, etc.. Sorry Chris, most of our citizens already have those big box store generators and such, and most of them weren’t up to the job if we could even get them started. And Chris, hows that pickup truck plow working on snowcrete drifts? Yup, this is the mentality we’re up against…