Tuesday, July 22, 2014
street news, views and stories of justice and injustice
Follow me on Twitter

Search WitnessLA:

Recent Posts

Categories

Archives

Meta


My Name is Richard. And I’m Homeless…… Part IV

July 3rd, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

homeless3_243213028_std.jpg

My computer is having a psychotic break and I’m on my son’s laptop
so I’ll make this brief. But I wanted to bring you up to date on Richard.

For the short term anyway, things are better. A few very kind WitnessLA commenters sent Richard some funds, which he was able to use to get back into the Motel 6. He says he will send more detailed updates soon. In the meantime, here is a short, interim journal entry from Richard, sent late last week before he got the funds, but after I suggested in an email that one day he might want to write a book about his experience and he mused a bit in response.

Thanks for the kind words. I doubt a memoir is in me. I come from a long line of taciturn Yankee Italians (yes, there is such a breed) and find talking about myself as pleasant as a root canal. I only dropped these bits on you because it was getting hard to hide my condition. As I said, I’m largely responsible for being where I am. That’s not because I’ll let society off the hook. But anyone who has been living in this country the past twenty or so years knows that the margin for error has been drastically reduced and it doesn’t take much to plunge into disaster—bad health, lost job, you can see the ways. I note for one factoid the Reagan administration cut housing assistance by 89 per cent. Now what do you think that did to the availability of SROs?

When I was young, homelessness was an invisible issue. If you wanted to see street people here in LA your best bet was to go down to “The Nickel”—fifth St or our local “Skid Row” and look at the “Wino’s”. Michael Harrington was even more blunt – in his landmark book The Other America (credited with inspiring the “War on Poverty”) the first chapter is entitled “The Invisible Poor”. Harrington meant that in our affluent age (remember we’re talking 1960 now) we don’t really see poverty. We drive by the poor on the freeway or ride by them on commuter trains. So it’s a shock when we learn that they are still among us. Not anymore. I don’t know when it first hit me. Maybe the early 80s. But, all of a sudden, in places like Huntington Beach and Santa Monica I saw people living on the streets.


And now, of course, Richard himself is living on the street
. He says that, more than anything, he longs for a job—maybe something in front of a computer—that would allow him to work in his present physical condition, in return for a roof over his head.

PART V: The path from university teacher to joining the ranks of the homeless

Posted in Homelessness, public assistance, Public Health, Street Stories | 29 Comments »

29 Responses

  1. Woody Says:

    I should have known that President Reagan would get blamed. It’s funny how homelessness is only an issue when Republicans are running things but instantly go off the headlines when a Democrat is in office.

    I don’t know about that part “that the margin for error has been drastically reduced.” It’s possible, but if that’s true it might be made worse with millions of illegal immigrants taking jobs that Americans could take. It’s very likely that burdens of starting a small company have been made too great by Democrats with laws to beat up employers in favor of employees, overbearing government paperwork requirements, and labor unions. It’s probable that illegal immigrants are eating up social assistance funds.

    But, I thought that the Great Society’s war on poverty was supposed to cure poverty for all time. At least the war in Iraq is seeing substantial success.

    One thing that screws people of few means is a credit check. Companies wanting to hire fall back on those and bad credit kills job opportunities. I’ve always been against using that information to screen out applicants, as I don’t see it pertinent to job requirements. Insurance companies use it, too, to jack up rates on those who can least afford it. Of course, credit card and loan companies are notorious for that. Try to get a car loan with no address, and try getting most jobs without a car. Note, though, that those issues are not a result of government–even the Democrats.

    Still, while I very much sympathize with Richard, pointing fingers at others for what may be a lifetime of missteps isn’t necessarily correct and is not helpful. What is he doing to improve decisions that he makes so that this doesn’t become a cycle? This help and attention can make a permanent difference rather than be a temporary patch, if Richard takes advantage of it to do that.

  2. richard locicero Says:

    While not an excuse Woody I think it is way past time to set the record straight on the Great Society and the War on Povery. One factoid – in 1960 one person in five was under the poverty line. By 1970 that number was one in ten. You figure it out.

  3. Woody Says:

    rlc, I’ve been over those statistics and found that the federal spending was not the cure. But, if it really could do what you claim, we wouldn’t have any poor and everyone would drive a Rolls.

  4. Randy Paul Says:

    rlc, I’ve been over those statistics and found that the federal spending was not the cure.

    Why not enlighten us with your analysis?

  5. "reg" Says:

    “Why not enlighten us with your analysis?”

    As has been written of Woody by one of his erstwhile comrades “elsewhere”, Quote – “I have yet to get a sane answer from him.”

  6. Woody Says:

    I’ve done it before and I’m not wasting time again on people who believe what they want–especially you.

  7. "reg" Says:

    rlc – everyone knows the reason poverty rates fell dramatically between 1960 and 1970 is because Reagan pledged to cut taxes in 1980.

  8. Randy Paul Says:

    I’ve done it before and I’m not wasting time again on people who believe what they want–especially you.

    Poppycock. You’ve done nothing of the kind. You have nothing cogent to add but hot air.

  9. "reg" Says:

    “You have nothing cogent to add but hot air”

    Wouldn’t this site be more fun if we could harness Woody’s output to make popcorn…

  10. Woody Says:

    Here the topic is about Richard and you guys want to argue about statistics and misleading conclusions from the 1960′s. Richard is or was an author on your site yet you did nothing but feel “helpless” when you knew his plight. Today, you still divert attention from helping him in favor of arguing. So much for compassionate liberals. Just what I expected.

  11. "reg" Says:

    Woody – just shut up. Really. In response to this post you went on a rant about the Great Society, illegal immigrants, Democrats, etc. etc. Now you’re crossing a line with charges about which you know absolutely nothing. You’re typically a disgrace and an insult to rationality but you’re pushing it here beyond the bounds of common decency.

  12. Woody Says:

    I just quoted what was written.

  13. Randy Paul Says:

    Wouldn’t this site be more fun if we could harness Woody’s output to make popcorn…

    Only if you like methane-flavored popcorn.

    Richard is or was an author on your site yet you did nothing but feel “helpless” when you knew his plight.

    Once again you put finger to keyboard without a clue as to what you are talking about. Do you know what we have done, Celeste, myself and the regular poster who signs on as Listener? If you do, then acknowledge it. If not, then shut the f#%$ up.

  14. Woody Says:

    Randy Paul Says:
    June 26th, 2008 at 11:10 am
    Celeste,
    As you know I’ve known about this for some time now and have been racked by my sense of helplessness. I hope your post can bring some help.

    Just repeating what you said.

  15. Randy Paul Says:

    And you don’t know what we have done since, do you? That didn’t stop you from assuming the worst and making an even bigger ass of yourself than usual. I live three thousand miles from Richard. Under the best of circumstances for those living in LA, and Orange County it’s hard to help. The sense of helplessness didn’t last that long, believe me.

    My God, you are a scummy creature. Do you ever know what you are talking about?

  16. Woody Says:

    I didn’t realize that you needed someone in L.A. to tell you how to wire money to someone across the country. Couldn’t the banks in New York figure it out? Still, I’m glad that you are helping Richard.

    Besides sending money for short-term survival, what progress is being made for a long-term job, housing, transportation, and spiritual support? What needs remain?

  17. Randy Paul Says:

    Woody,

    You moron. Read the two posts that immediately preceded the one you quote above:

    # C Says:
    June 26th, 2008 at 10:35 am

    How can we make a donation to him?
    # Celeste Fremon Says:
    June 26th, 2008 at 10:39 am

    AC, I’m trying to work that out. Yesterday, I sent an email to ask him that very thing, but have yet to hear back. As you can see, communication is difficult. Richard was at the Motel 6 for a few days, but he’s run out of money again, so can’t afford it.

    I’ll post here the minute I hear, so check back. And thank you so much for asking.

    At the time no one even knew if Richard wanted help, let alone how to get it to him. For an accountant you seem to have problems with numbers and dates.

  18. Woody Says:

    Randy, Celeste could figure it out and communicate the information, but you, on your site, for which Richard was a co-author, didn’t–yet you knew about his situation for some time. You left it up to Celeste. Don’t come attacking me for repeating what you already said about yourself–that you felt helpless. I believe that you care. You just can’t think.

    Now, besides throwing money at the problem like typical liberals, what about solid solutions to other needs that I previously mentioned: “Besides sending money for short-term survival, what progress is being made for a long-term job, housing, transportation, and spiritual support? What needs remain?”

    Does Richard have a resume’? That would be a start. I asked for this information early on and haven’t gotten an answer. Is there a project schedule for making Richard self-sufficient, with target dates–which presumably would be met before the short-term money runs out. Does anyone have a garage or basement apartment? Where’s his family? Good grief. Is anyone thinking ahead? How much more money could Richard use at the moment? Surely, there is more to this than appearing to care and to get a story.

  19. Randy Paul Says:

    Randy, Celeste could figure it out and communicate the information, but you, on your site, for which Richard was a co-author, didn’t–yet you knew about his situation for some time.

    Listen, peckerwood, Reg e-mailed me about the fact that Richard had not posted for a while. I sent e-mails to Richard as did Celeste. As Celeste can attest, it took a while for Richard to respond. In the mean time, we had no idea what was going on.

    If you want to keep beating that horse, please do. You still don’t know what you’re talking about, which for you is par for the course.

  20. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Arrrrrrggghhhh!

    Woody, to clarify things, Randy is absolutely, positively right. A number of us had exchanged emails about our worry about Richard, Randy tried to email him and got no response. Then I sent one out at a rather higher decible (I can get shrieky, as well all know), and Richard DID respond. Randy was cc’d on that email as the effort to contact Richard was something we did together.

    We all discussed what we might do. Because I’m a narrative journalist, it occurred to me that if Richard was willing to let his story be told online and would write some journals about his situation that I could post, that it might generate some kind of help (and, at the very least, people would learn from it. I certainly have—and am, as there will be more installments.) Randy was included in those email exchanges..

    In any case, as you know, Richard agreed to do it, and off we went. There were, however, long, worrisome lagtimes in which we heard nothing.

    And as for how people got the money to Richard, this is also something we (Randy, reg, Listener and others) discussed via email in addition to whatever I posted.

    About feeling “helpless,” good lord, when somebody else whom you know and like is in such a difficult circumstance, I feel upset and helpless, don’t you? That doesn’t mean one can’t reach out to help and thankfully many have. But we can’t magically fix Richard’s situation, and we know it…and we wish we could.

    I hope this clears things up. But really, we have much better things to fight about than this—which is an entirely false issue.

    Now perhaps we can adjourn to fight over the police…..or my fabulous 4th of July photos.

  21. Woody Says:

    Mama to Randy’s rescue.

    Celeste: I can get shrieky, as well all know.

    Nooooo! Who knew?

    Celeste, you’re kind to distribute so much credit to others, but you were the catalyst and carried the ball, although I appreciate everyone’s efforts.

    Now, about a job for Richard. The only thing that I know about Richard is that he needs a job, he can operate a computer, he has health problems, and he is a total imbecile when it comes to politics. That makes for some resume’. Was he a contract murderer or a bootlegger? Was he a preacher or a football coach? Does he know Excel or web design? Can we get a little more information to start the creative juices?

  22. Randy Paul Says:

    Mama to Randy’s rescue

    The truth is painful to those who trade in lies and smears. Keep whining.

  23. Woody Says:

    I know you feel helpless.

  24. Randy Paul Says:

    Allow me to quote from a famous Republican, Abe Lincoln:

    It is an established maxim and moral that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood.

    What is most contemptible about your behavior, Woody is your willingness to use Richard’s sad and tragic situation to think you could score points against me.

  25. Woody Says:

    I just quoted what you said after you guys tried to make phony political statements with ragged statistics and to shut me up. Look in the mirror, Randy.

    Also, using Lincoln’s statement, every prosecutor in the country would be guilty of lying. There’s nothing wrong with making reasonable assertions for debate. What is wrong is trying to shut up people simply because they disagree with you, as you do.

    I didn’t use Richard’s situation to score points against you. That, in itself, is absurd.

  26. Randy Paul Says:

    I didn’t use Richard’s situation to score points against you.

    Of course not. You attempted to and failed miserably.

  27. Woody Says:

    Randy, re-read through the thread of comments.

    In my first comment, I wrote: “Still, while I very much sympathize with Richard, pointing fingers at others for what may be a lifetime of missteps isn’t necessarily correct and is not helpful. What is he doing to improve decisions that he makes so that this doesn’t become a cycle? This help and attention can make a permanent difference rather than be a temporary patch, if Richard takes advantage of it to do that.”

    Were you mentioned in that? No.

    I had not mentioned your name at all, but you still tried to “score points” by coming at me. So, either you’re stupid or a liar–but, I believe it’s both.

    Give up so that you don’t look even worse than you already do.

  28. Randy Paul Says:

    Woody,

    Here’s what you wrote:

    Richard is or was an author on your site yet you did nothing but feel “helpless” when you knew his plight. Today, you still divert attention from helping him in favor of arguing. So much for compassionate liberals. Just what I expected.

    You’re a pathological liar – and a piss poor one at that.

  29. Randy Paul Says:

    As my tag didn’t work, let me try again. Here’s what you wrote:

    Richard is or was an author on your site yet you did nothing but feel “helpless” when you knew his plight. Today, you still divert attention from helping him in favor of arguing. So much for compassionate liberals. Just what I expected.

    I might add the word “helpless” was a direct quote from me. In addition, you quote me here.

    You’re a liar.

Leave a Comment





Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.