Call Me English

A little corner of the world where I talk about what I want.

Homelessness

with 2 comments

Earlier today, a young woman was walking down the street around the corner from my apartment building.  She was carrying out an errand for the salon she works at.  A highly agitated homeless person described as slovenly and mentally ill tried to snatch her bag, and when she resisted, he stabbed her in the abdomen.  It was covered extensively on the local news and in blogs.

The victim’s injuries are not life-threatening, but the assailant was able to flee the scene.

This attack is very frightening because it has the aroma of a time from 1965 to 1995 when the city was not safe. At all. Random acts of violence committed by the unsheltered and neglected mentally ill in an area of the city unaccustomed to disturbance of any kind should raise concerns for all of us because they highlight three things we straight-up suck at as a society:

  • Properly treating mental illness
  • Eliminating homelessness in a compassionate but effective way
  • Race/class relations (the assailant in this case was black, as determined by surveillance cameras)

I asked a staff member in my building about this very thing… about whether we might be going back in time to the bad old days.  “The truth is,” he told me, “crimes like this never stop. They just don’t happen often enough around here to numb you. In some parts of the Bronx, this is known as a Friday night.”

So how do we do it? How do we get the homeless off the street?  How do we properly treat the mentally ill?  Do they wish to be helped, and do we wish to do the real work of helping?

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Written by Dave

July 17, 2012 at 22:53

2 Responses

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  1. Funny, I am from the Bronx (Allerton Avenue), although I haven’t lived there in three decades. My son has schizo-affective disorder and I am familiar with anosognosia or the inability to know you are sick. I testifed two times to have him committed because he was a danger to himself. While I don’t regret doing it, I will never do it again because of the detrimental effect it had on our relationship and the way it affected me. I am a supported of Dr. E. Fuller Torrey. He believes, as do I, that we have swung too far in letting the seriously ill fend for themselves. My mother had Alzheimer’s and I know no one, including the police and those in the court system, would have allowed her to roam around at will when she was delusional and incompetent. I don’t see a difference between the two groups on that respect, although the laws are different for both. The money that was supposed to go to community mental health centers at the closing of state hospitals never did, and we are all paying a price.

    waywardweed

    July 18, 2012 at 09:01

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I guess the question really is what’s the best way to get from where we are now to where we should be?

      Dave

      July 18, 2012 at 10:01


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