I don’t usually write about within-the-system political actions. Most are a waste of time. This was such a successful exception, performed at the local level, and with such Freedom Outlaw panache, that I thought the action and its perpetrators deserve a tip o’ the hat.
Longtime blog Commentariat members and freedomistas Just Waiting (JW) and Comrade X (CX) both moved to a small town in a quiet, obscure county in the State of Jefferson. They arrived separately, from different sinkholes of statism. Both were seeking freedom.
Each had his own intensely political past — one as a tough, scruffy cannabis activist, one as a powerhouse party fundraiser who got invited to presidential inaugural balls. Now they’re Freedom Outlaws and friends.
Neither wanted to remain political in his new home. Both stepped back into politics because they saw a need that they could fill.
Just Waiting began attending and participating in government meetings early on, quickly becoming well known. Then, when asked by several elected officials, he volunteered himself for a vacant county office, becoming an Outlaw Mole.
He says, “I taught my kids if you want to be heard you don’t stand outside and yell at the building. Instead you get invited inside and whisper to the people. Well, even though I begged them not to, they invited me in. And they can’t fire me. So how could I say ‘No’?
“Before that I was very happy living by John Galt’s motto. I bet Ayn Rand would be pissed at me now.”
Comrade X, a classic Agitator, just wanted to tend to his preps and enjoy life in one of America’s remaining free places. Having seen first-hand what wokery was doing to Portland and Seattle, he wanted no more of the left’s self-created troubles.
One of those cities’ most notorious self-created troubles is laying out a welcome mat for every sort of drug-abusing, sidewalk-pooping, thieving, trash-strewing petty (or not-so-petty) criminal under the rubric of “helping the homeless.”
Who ever would imagine such problems coming to an idyllic, isolated rural coastal community far from any big city?
Then, this January, JW took CX aside and gave him the bad news.
The Bad News
County commissioners appointed a seven-member panel to recommend how to dispense those funds. The panel voted unanimously to give $300,000 to the local homeless coalition. (Their motives appear both interesting and self-interested, as we shall see shortly.)
The specific purpose: To buy a disused schoolhouse and eight acres to house the homeless. The site is seven miles outside a town of 1,800 people. In a county of less than 25,000.
“Transitional housing for families,” says the homeless coalition (which mostly consists of a handful of paid homeless advocates, led by a woman we shall call Towanda,” because (seriously) that’s one of her pronouns).
“Transitional housing for families” is rarely what its promoters claim. In this case, Towanda has openly stated, in a public meeting, that her plans for the property include adding both tent camping and trailers for addiction and mental health services. The property would be a zero-barrier, come-one-come-all mecca for the homeless, who would likely also spread out onto nearby roadsides and beaches, and into area forests.
In a pinch you can warehouse thousands on an eight-acre parcel. Even more in the surrounding terrain.
So when Towanda also speaks ardently about her desire to “change the culture” of the county, it’s terrifyingly clear what she means. Never mind that most residents, who already live at the lower end of the economic spectrum, find the current culture of freedom exactly to their liking. They definitely don’t need more wokeness, poverty, or crime.
Immediately CX envisioned used needles and human feces on the nearby beach where local children play and he walks his dog.
One county commissioner was fully supportive and ready to vote in favor. According to JW, he would certainly have bullied the weakest commissioner into following him. It appeared to be a done deal.
Until JW and CX put their heads together.
“Transitional housing”: The Reality
One businessman in the area asked a homeless newcomer how he happened to turn up in the remote and almost entirely rural State of Jefferson. The answer: “I was living on the streets in Portland and ‘somebody’ handed me a bus ticket to come here.”
Turns out there’s a national trend toward exporting troublesome homeless people into suburbs and rural areas.
These attempts to export big city homeless and their problems of filth, addiction, “culture change,” and crime are often done on the premise of building “transitional housing.” Said housing is promoted as a means of bringing government funding and new employment into fading communities, and of course “helping our neighbors” and “helping families.”
Arizona is the latest example. Their rationale is classic.
Portland has attempted to build homeless housing in its suburbs (the city’s term, “Safe Rest Village” is particularly endearing) and gotten righteous pushback. Most recently, the city has simply allowed homeless encampments to stretch unchecked into neighborhoods, ignoring the pleas of endangered, victimized, and terrified residents (examples here and here).
“Transitional housing,” by that or any other happy-sounding name, is a deception.
Even if “helping homeless families” return to stability were the true intention, JW asks, “Transition to what? There’s a nationwide housing shortage. In our region, in particular, the long-term (over 30 day) lease laws so heavily favor tenants that landlordship has become very, very unattractive.”
Not only is there no post-transition housing, but in rural areas there are still few living-wage jobs — little chance for even the most willing and able homeless (particularly those used to urban conveniences and services) to raise themselves into stability.
On the other hand, when chronically homeless people land in a place that welcomes them, there they tend to stay — on the streets, in the woods, in shelters, in parks, or in “transitional housing” — until better weather or more abundant benefits draw them elsewhere. Already, a church in the largest city (population approximately 6,000) in JW and CX’s county has attracted 70 or so transients with its feeding program. When the city tried to limit the attraction, it faced a federal lawsuit.
That city would love to export its homeless problem almost 49 miles away where Towanda’s proposed shelter would be located. Guess where six of the seven members of that advisory panel who recommended giving the $300,000 live? Yeah, you guessed it; they live in that “Big City” that wants its homeless population to go away.
Of course, many of the homeless are decent, earnest people who’ve lost jobs or escaped abusive homes. They are our neighbors. They can be helped back to their feet often within their home communities.
These JW refers to these as the “hand ups” who just need a helping hand to regain stability.
Then there are the “hand outs.” Most long-term homeless are exactly that — rootless criminals and addicts, some of them mentally ill, others just chronic deadbeats. And as San Francisco has shown the world (with its “housing first” approach to homelessness), enabling criminals, addicts, and bums only … enables criminals, addicts, and bums.
The unmentionable fact is that a homeless-industrial complex has grown up around finding ever-more-expensive “solutions” for homelessness. Solutions that solve nothing, but guarantee political power, work, profits, and ever-increasing funding for the complex and its members. The homeless-industrial complex consists of a wide range of activists and bureaucrats of course, but also of builders, materials suppliers, food vendors, counselors, local government officials, and others who benefit from an endless supply of homelessness. (Oh, and let’s not forget dealers of heroin, fentanyl, and meth; they can make out well from these projects, too.)
After Just Waiting gave him the bad news, Comrade X mulled the situation for a while. He still only wanted a peaceful retirement of minding his own business. He knew all too well that political action is always harder and more of a crap shoot than you think it’s going to be.
But he kept thinking about disease-laden needles and feces on the area’s shining beaches. He kept thinking about Portland and Seattle, cities whose degradation he knew all too well.
Although the two had been friends for several years, CX had never visited JW’s office. He went there and found quotes from Mike Vanderboegh on the walls, along with JW’s own “My body — my choice” anti-mandate stickers. (JW may be a Freedom Outlaw Mole, but he’s kinda “out there” about it.)
“I’m going to get engaged in this thing,” CX stated, and asked JW to tell him all he knew about the homeless coalition and where it stood with county government. JW began giving him publicly available, but largely unknown, information.
To be continued.