Saturday, December 21, 2013

Follow Me On Google Plus

In an attempt to stream line the work I do on the internet, especially in regards to this blog, I have changed my google+ account associated with it.    In the right hand column you will see a Google+ follow tag.    If you wish to follow this blog and all my homeless advocacy activities, please click on and use that link/tab/thing whatever ya call it.  That way you can stay up to date on things here.   Thanks!

Be warned that I'm new to the whole Google Plus thing and it will take me a while to figure it all out.  But there are some promising things coming in the near future, such as live video chats.   How would that be?  Live video chatting with me?

Know too that I've linked a new Youtube channel to the same google account.   Most everything should now be under the same google account name - kevin.barbieux[at]gmail.com.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Tent


In the middle of this picture you can see a tent.   It's a large tent and it is "home" to some 240 or so homeless people.  It has been the de facto winter shelter facility in San Diego for some time.   Yes, winter in San Diego can get cold enough to require shelter.  Low temperatures in San Diego can dip into the 30s during the winter months.  It has been the only true "shelter" for the homeless in San Diego, given that all the other homeless shelters here are no longer traditional shelters but rehabilitation programs.   Well, that's all about to change.

We were told last night that the "Tent" would no longer be just a shelter, but another rehab program.   The homeless staying in the tent have been given a choice.   They can either connect with a case manager who will try to help them move on from the tent, and for that be allowed to stay at the tent for a total of 90 days, OR they can choose to not have a case manager and be allowed to stay at the tent for a total of 60 days.   Either way, the homeless will no longer be able to ride out the entire winter in the shelter.

There is good and bad with this change.  Opportunities may arise that will help some of the homeless get off the streets for good.  But, what happens once a homeless person has completed their 90 day stay at the Tent and they still are not ready to leave? What if there is no other place for them to go?   For the mostly unencumbered homeless person, one without severe mental health or addiction issues, it can still that them 3 or 4 months to get their act together enough so to escape homelessness.  But for every other homeless person, the transition out of homelessness usually takes longer.

Of those who have completed their 90 days, but are not yet ready to move - where will they go?  Will they be thrown out onto the streets regardless?   What about those who are ready to move on beyond the Tent at the end of their 90 days?  Will there be a place off the streets they can move to?  one that they can afford?   Or will they just be thrown back onto the streets?  The big question is - Does the city of San Diego have 240 affordable/low income housing units available for the homeless who are  currently staying at the "Tent"?   I'm guessing, "No".


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Homeless Guy: Survival Tip #2 Open A Can Without A Can Opener



Homeless Survival Tip #2

We're going to try another homeless survival tip, see if we can make two of these in a row.

I'd seen this on YouTube before and there are actually several YouTube videos about this, the trick of opening a can without a can opener.  It does happen from time to time when 
people donate food to the homeless they are just getting rid of  canned food they are never going to eat themselves.  It has been in the back of the cupboard for who knows how long and so you end up with cans of food like beans and tuna.

They don't have the pop tops, and 
really, if you're going to donate food to the homeless in cans, please try, if you can, to get the kind with the pop top lid where you can just pull it off and it opens up really easy, because not every homeless person has a can opener. 

Say you are on the street and someone has throw you a couple cans of food and you don't have a can opener(now you can, if you have tools or whatever, work at opening it up) so this is kinda a last resort kind of deal.

What you do is, you take your can and 
turn it upside down not this way, but that the top is down.  Then, place it on a surface like this cement. It's kind of a rough cement the rougher the better I imagine just a really hard thing. If there is no cement around find a large rock this will work as well.  What we're going to do is you going to press down while you scrub like this.  Now, I have already prepped this can because it takes a bit too long there's no need to be watching me scrub this.

It takes anywhere from one to two, maybe even three minutes depending on how hard you are pressing down on the the surface, and just how course the surface is. What you are going to do is wear down this edge enough that we can start seeing some little openings where the metal is starting to separate there once you've done that "they" say(and this is the first time we are going to try this) just squeeze from the sides and the top will pop right off.

Just like that - there is the tuna - opened it without a can opener.  There are two little problems with this it makes whole lotta noise when you 
doing this when you are out on the street you may not want to do this near other people who are sleeping as you would wake them and piss them off the other problem is it will mark up the concrete.  You can see where it marks up the cement a little there if you are doing this a lot over the course of time it's gonna leave a the big mark and that might upset some people so just be careful on how you do that and it works with the any kind can that you using alright that's a survival tip number one try to not get tuna all over you like I just did.  I'll see you next time.

Monday, December 16, 2013

I Am A Dork

Not only am I a dork, I am a homeless dork.    I have such a difficult time staying focused on any particular project - a problem I've had all my life, it may be a contributing factor as to why I became homeless.

Every once in a while I look back on my blog to see how things are progressing, or not.    Evidently, I had some big plans for this blog, and for youtube, when I first transplanted myself to San Diego.  They didn't last long.   I did some video, but I didn't stay with it, and my blogging has been sporadic.  (I still think that my more recent blog posts have been some of my best.)

I need to up my game.   I need to make a bigger commitment to this blog, and YouTube.   And you are right, not every thing on the internet is good.   There are some things on the internet that I spend way too much time on, like Facebook.

The main thing should concentrate on is developing a source of income for myself using the internet.  All other means of income don't work for me.    I don't have the patience for the ol' 9 to 5.  My anxiety always gets in the way of that.  Actually, my anxiety gets in the way of most everything in my life.   Yes, I have developed some skills over the years to deal with it, but one of the major sources for my anxiety is Asperger's Syndrome, something I was born with, and something for which there is no cure.   And due to complications that developed, primarily because of Asperger's, I have very little confidence in my ability to perform well, either on a job, or with writing, or in personal relationships with people.   And as you may know, successful personal relationships with people are the key to a successful life.

Now I'm gonna try and adjust my situation again and make another attempt at this internet thing, and see how this goes.   Either I will overcome my dorkness, or I'll find a way to use it to my advantage.

Onward and Upward.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's Christmas Time!

And Christmas means presents!    I am completely open to receiving any presents you might have in mind to send.     You can use the paypal link on this page to send donations, or you can send small items and gift cards to,

Kevin Barbieux
299 17th Street,
San Diego CA 92101.

 Thanks, and Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dying Homeless And Other Lies

You betcha, dying while homeless sucks more than most other death scenarios.   At least in death the homeless are remembered in memorials across the country.    The National Coalition for The Homeless started the event several years ago, declaring December 21st, the first day of Winter, as Homeless Memorial Day.

Along with this memorial comes the inevitable hype and hoopla created by homeless advocates, hoping to squeeze as much sympathy as they can out of the world for the homeless.   Often, though, this leads to an exaggeration, or misrepresentation, of facts.   As you may already know from reading this blog, misrepresentation of the truth is the biggest of my pet peeves.   It doesn't really matter the subject, but it grates on my nerves even more when people distort the truth about homelessness.

Some distort the truth about homelessness because they don't like homeless people, some people distort the same truth, but in the opposite direction, because they feel empathy for the homeless and wish to protect them from the haters.  Still, neither group is of much real help to the homeless.  Only the truth about homelessness can help end it.

For many years the chaplains at the Nashville Rescue Mission quoted some fact they dug up about homelessness - that the average life expectancy of a homeless person was about 55 years old.  They said this in an attempt to scare the homeless who lived at the mission to "gettin' right with God".   It did seem like a terrible shame that people could die so young just for being homeless.

But, a year or two ago some fundamentalist Christian group announced a new study they had done in support of the family lifestyle, reporting that while married men lived into their 70s or later, single men died about the age of 55.    So funny.   With rare exception, all the men living at the rescue mission are single.   Here, the truth had finally come out.   Homeless men were not dying at 55 because they were homeless, they were dying just like everyone else in the country.    So all the claims that the homeless lifestyle could be so detrimental as to kill a person pretty much flew out the window.

More proof that being homeless doesn't kill a person, (although being homeless most certainly does suck ass), is a comparison of death rates.  In Nashville they boast a homeless population around 3900, and this past year 39 homeless people died.   In San Diego they boast a homeless population rate of 9000, and this past year 62 homeless people died there.   So, we are looking at a death rate of slightly less than 1 percent for the homeless.     Then I looked up the national death rate for all people in the US and found that it is slightly less than 1 percent a year.  Yep, the homeless die at the same rate as the rest of the country.

Ok, so what does all this mean?  That I couldn't tell you.  What I do know is, only facts can lead to solutions to homelessness.  If we truly want to help the homeless, we must  be completely honest, and admit to all the truths about homelessness.

UPDATE: True to the character of homeless advocates, as I claimed in this blog post, I have seen where the number of homeless deaths has been changed by the advocates.   They are now reporting that a higher number of homeless people having died this year, than they reported just a couple days ago.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I Hate The Homeless

So, you are one of those people who hate the homeless.  You make no bones about it, you'll tell anyone who'll listen.   You're not afraid to offend anyone with your opinion of the homeless.   The homeless need to be made aware how much people hate them.   Then, maybe, the homeless will do the right thing and stop with being homeless.

Well, I am all for homeless people stopping their homelessness too.   But the fact of the matter is, ending one's homelessness, (or starting one's homelessness for that matter) is not as simple as flipping a switch, or just making a choice to not be homeless.   Leaving homelessness takes time, effort, resources, and opportunities.

The thing about the "I hate the homeless" crowd is that they often work out their angst towards the homeless by pushing politicians and others to end services to homeless people.   They think that these services make it "easier' to be homeless.   Well, on that point they are correct, receiving food, shelter, clothing, etc, does ease the burden of being homeless - pretty much in the same way that medicine and doctor's care makes it easier to have cancer.   The thing is, no one wants to have cancer.  And likewise, no one wants to be homeless.    Do you really think that if people took away the doctors and the medicine, then fewer people would get cancer?

Anyway.   As happens on an almost continual basis, some one, or some group, works to remove the resources that homeless people use - believing that if the resources were gone, the homeless would be gone too.   Well, it just doesn't work that way.   First the homeless show up, then the resources to help them show up.  Resources do not create homelessness.

Homeless people need as many resources as they can get their hands on, so to be able to leave homelessness.  Every time a resource is taken away from the homeless, not only does it make being homeless that much more difficult, it also makes getting out of homelessness more difficult too.

Seriously, if you hate homeless people, the best way to get "rid" of them is to give them all the resources, and all the opportunities they need, so to leave homelessness.  Trust me, as much as you hate homelessness, homeless people hate it even more.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ignore the last post

LOL I just fixed the problem with my laptop.   All is back to normal.  Phew!

I'm screwed, yet again.


I'm writing this on the library computer, on which I get one 30 minute session a day.     My laptop has gone bonkers... or more likely, was hacked.    I cannot get the wifi to work.  The touch pad no longer works either. It's like the wifi function has been turned off.   Normal methods to turning it back on are not available.  Actually, any attempt to change any settings gives me the "that is not available" screen.    I can work the other functions on the laptop, like photo editing, Word, etc.   There's just no internet.

I'm just gonna take a break.  bye.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Homeless Population Numbers

A lot of attention is given to homeless population numbers.   Advocates use these numbers in their work mainly to justify a need for action in helping the homeless, and to prove that their work is effective.

You'll soon be hearing more about the homeless census, often called a, "Point In Time" count.  It is one of those activities for which homeless advocates get media attention.   Point In Time counts are a census of the homeless population, conducted on the same day and time each year - and usually held late at night (and into the early morning hours), when homeless people are settled for the night and least likely to be moving about.   Because homeless people are counted wherever they may be found, a lot of volunteers are needed to canvas vast areas of the city, looking for the homeless wherever they may be camped out.    If you want to volunteer for such an event in your town, it should be easy to find out how and when with a google search, or by contacting your local shelter.

Although homeless advocates make a big deal about this census of the homeless - the counting of homeless people is a requirement of the federal government, placed on local governments so to qualify for federal funding - the real benefits of the count are limited.

The benefits of the count are limited because the information gathered is somewhat flawed.  The biggest problem with these Point In Time counts is that not every homeless person is counted.  This happens either because the volunteers don't know where all the homeless are located, or more importantly, because many of the homeless avoid being counted.   These counting events are always advertised in advance,  so the homeless who wish to not be counted, for whatever reason they may have, will take measures to avoid the census.   They may get a hotel room for the night, or go hang out at a friends house that evening, or they may move their camp to a more reclusive location.   Advocates and census takers estimate that 25% or more of the homeless are missed during the count.   This failure to count all homeless people is important and should be remembered, especially when advocates and the media start spouting numbers regarding the homeless.    Recently, homeless service agencies have been proclaiming that they are making headway in reducing the homeless population.    Those estimates are coming in at anywhere from 4% to 70% reduced.   Considering that the count can be off by 25% or more, how can anyone honestly claim that they've reduced homelessness by, say 10 percent?

In regards to claims that the homeless population has been reduced two things should be considered.   The first issue is in regards to the language used to describe homeless people.  The second issue is in regards to the constant fluctuations in the homeless population.

Some years ago, President W. Bush made a speech in which he said that the United States should be able to end chronic homelessness in ten years time.  Ok, now go back and re-read the previous sentence.   There is a small but significant word there that most people overlook.   That word is "chronic".    The president's speech came on the heels of HUD's newly created distinction about homeless types.    Sure, to the average American, homelessness is a "chronic" problem.  But that's not what the president (nor HUD) was talking about.    People who are "Chronically Homeless" are a specific type of homeless person, and are a small subset of the entire homeless population.    Chronically Homeless people are those people who have been homeless for an extended period, or for several periods, and who have problems so severe that they are costing government agencies a great deal of money having to deal with them.    Chronically Homeless people go to hospital emergency rooms, have the police called on them, are sent to jail, etc, many many times in the course of a year.   In university studies done on the Chronically Homeless, each chronically homeless person can cost a city in excess of $250,000 a year.    In a city with a homeless population of 2000, approximately 20 to 50 of those people could fit HUD's definition of Chronic.   That's 20 to 50 people, each costing the city 1/4 a million dollars.   So, yes, it's pretty obvious that curing "chronic" homelessness would greatly benefit a city.  HUD has found that "Housing First" programs work best for chronically homeless people.   Once successfully placed in Housing First, these people become much less of a burden, and less of a cost, on everyone.  When a city claims to have reduced it's homeless population, it is only referring to the Chronically Homeless subset of the homeless population, and not the entire homeless population.    Some cities have been very bold in their recent declarations of reducing homelessness by 75% or more.   More than likely, they are only talking of the chronically homeless, or only homeless veterans, etc.   They most certainly have not reduced their entire homeless population by that much.   Words are important, and even homeless advocates are guilty of creating spin for their own benefit.

The other problem with homeless census counts is that they only count the homeless once a year.  Now, if the homeless population was a constant number that never or rarely varied, then that would be fine.   But the homeless population fluctuates a great deal along many different variables.

This is an extreme metaphor, but I think it gets the idea across.   Lets say you wanted to know how much light was reflected by the moon. And lets say that you decided to measure the moon's light on only one night of the year.   Just how accurate would that measurement be?   On February 8th 2012, there was a full moon.  But the following year, on February 8th 2013, there was only a tiny sliver of light coming from the moon.  It would be ridiculous to proclaim that the light from the moon had decreased 90% over a year's time.  Measuring the light from the moon on just one night of the year would not give us any accurate information.   Because of the many variables involved, we'd need to measure the light more often to get a more accurate assessment.    

The variables of the moon, it's rotation around the earth, the rotation of the earth around the sun, the axis tilt of the earth, the elliptical orbit of both the earth and moon, etc., all have an effect on how much light comes from the moon - and those things will certainly skew the measurement of light from the moon.    The homeless population has many variable effecting it as well.   The homeless population fluctuates with the time of year, the seasons, the weather, the economy, cultural changes, politics, over population, war, outbreaks of illness, the advent and availability of illicit drugs, changes in prison populations, the creation or deletion of programs to house the homeless, etc.   All these things, and more, prevent a homeless population census from being accurate, when the homeless are counted only once a year.

The main reason why I bring up these issues concerning the homeless population count is that people have a tendency to develop expectations based on such information.   But when their expectations are not met, they often become discouraged and lose trust in the system that is supposed to be helping the homeless.   And, when that happens, they usually pull their support, financially, and politically etc., making the work of the homeless advocates that much harder.    Certainly, the intentions of the people conducting these homeless population counts is good,  but good intentions are rarely enough.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Time Homeless

I haven't written anything in a while and am feeling more obligated, now that the holidays are upon us.   People are more likely to think about and research homelessness at this time of year.   My readership always peaks around November and December.  Also, it would be good to write something as I haven't written in a while, and people might assume that my absence from this blog would indicate a lack of interest, on my part, in homeless advocacy.   I do admit, though, that my enthusiasm for writing on this blog does wax and wane.   But, I know you're here, knocking at the door, wanting a chat, or a story, perhaps.   If you emplore, I'll open the door.  Just call me Hagrid.

   And so you ask, "There are homeless people here and there.  We feel something must be done, especially at this time of year.  What shall we do?   That is, given the amount of time, resources, and attention we have made available."

In my head my response goes one way, but I consider how offended you might become with that response, and so I again stow those thoughts away for another day, and I tell you what I've always told you - those things you prefer to hear.

The story of the Gift Bags is a popular one - a do-able project, neat and clean.  Interaction with the homeless remains minimal while seemingly impacting the lives of homeless people in a meaningful way.   Resources have a value, and sharing resources seems altruistic enough.  Enough for the holidays.   You say you'll follow up again after the Holidays, but you never do.

Brown bag it, lunch bags, plastic ziplock bags.   Fill them with little necessities, toiletries, and tiny candies of good cheer.   Gloves and clean socks with which to stay warm.  Soap and deodorant to stay clean or at least give the appearance of cleanliness.  Travel size, pocket size, everything.  Mouth wash (non alcoholic) tooth brush and tooth paste.  fingernail clippers and band aids.   A sandwich and a cola.   If you feel like being extravagant, throw in a McDonalds gift card or a bus pass.

Gather the kids to fill the bags (Christmas Stockings?) full of goodies and gear.  Load up the van and drive downtown to where the homeless gather.  Hand each homeless person a bag, wish them a Merry Holiday.  Smile and keep moving until all the bags are distributed.  Everyone pile into the van for the drive back home. There will still be time to hang out at the mall.