Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Stealth Pan-handler Relocation Stymied

The Dayton Daily News is carrying an article about the ill-conceived stealth pan-handler relocation program in Grafton Hill. This was a program 'kick-started' by Federal economic stimulus funds where some homeless folks who were bothering businesses in another part of the city were gathered up and put in an old, nearly unoccupied apartment building. Ms Patterson describes the motivation for the secrecy:
The Other Place spokeswoman Tina Patterson said the decision to integrate them into the neighborhood is not a new concept but was done quietly this time because of the stereotypes associated with the chronically homeless.
What stereotypes could those be?
Olds, Inman and Richard Miniard have been problems for the city the last nine years, police reports show. They are regarded by police and business owners near Brown and East Stewart streets as nuisances and drunks who panhandle illegally for money. Each have been convicted numerous times of being drunk in public. Another resident in their complex, John C. Hibbits has been arrested more than 50 times, police records show. All the men said they abandoned shelters because of the rules, opting instead for dirty tents erected in Veterans Park.
Your tax dollars paying their rent now. I guess when the public drunkenness and urination is college-age buffoons it's ok, but when it's homeless old guys it's bad for business. That's alright, relocating them into an unlicensed group-home provides a nice, no-risk cash flow for the new property owner, and roofs over the heads of some homeless folks (who have been unfairly stereotyped). Everyone's happy right? Everyone but the people who now have to live with these pan-handlers (who couldn't be bothered to follow the rules so that they could stay in a shelter). I must say that not all of them were bad, I remember one in particular that made it a point not to ask for money when you passed him on the sidewalk, he was trying to make the best of his new opportunity. Unfortunately, his fellows did not emulate his good attitude.
“It was never our intention to have them thrown out of our neighborhood,” said Cheryl Bates, president of Grafton Hill Neighborhood Association. “We were never made aware of their arrival until we read it in the newspaper. Then we started seeing panhandling, public urination and fights involving people living in that building.”
I really feel for the poor guy who happened to be living in the same building that they dumped a dozen reprobates on:
Gary Ewing, who was living in the apartment before the formerly homeless tenants arrived, said he noticed a lot of “bizarre” things once his new neighbors arrived. “I kept calling police because they’d bust out all of the windows and would be drunk and harassing me,” Ewing said. “Now they are not renewing my lease because I called police about all of this nonsense.”
The DDN article also has a quote from Gary Zaremba, who purchased the 16 unit apartment building on 2 Jun 2009 for $106k, and then had 10 state-funded tenants delivered into his lap a month latter (talk about a great real-estate speculation, what a talented fellow). [Update: a little birdie told me that he charges ~200% the market rate for his subsidised tennants, and he is not renewing the market rate tennants, $550/month * 10 = $5.5k/month state-guaranteed income for this guy without ever having to advertise to fill the vacancies in his newly bought building] I find it interesting that the guy who bought this old nearly empty apartment building (which was on a 'wouldn't it be nice to demolish this nuisance' list) just shortly before the relocation would blame this on the race of people in Grafton Hill:
“I think the big issue here is a lot of the (Grafton Hill) complaining came from whites with better incomes,” said New York-based property owner, Gary Zaremba. “The tenants living in the building weren’t violent felons. (The neighbors) just didn’t want my tenants living in their backyard.”
Hello! Lots of the pan-handlers you relocated are white! And the poor guy you dumped them on is black! GHA has all sorts of members (with widely varying amounts of melanin in their skin). You would have known that if you had come to a meeting when you bought property in our neighborhood. Now I understand why it is so easy for demagogues to rile people up about out of town speculators and carpetbaggers. If that's what economic stimulus brings to Dayton, you can keep it.

I think the worst thing about fly-by-night programs like this is when the stimulus funds run out, these old guys will be right back out on the street looking to scratch together enough petty cash for their next fix, and their patrons will have moved on to using some new issue or group as a 'project' to solidify political capital. If we were serious about helping these guys, we wouldn't have dumped them in an unsupervised mess with no structured 'program' to help them 'reintegrate'.


  1. "What still upsets some of us, is those people that abuse the system even in the homeless community, they get a check, live in a motel for a few days, drink and smoke it up and back out on the streets in a week. Those are the ones, we just tolerate, we can't help them, we love them, but we don't let them abuse our care either.

    The ones that like living on the outside edges have a different way of doing so. And the ones that wish they could get off the streets will get off the streets because when they find the help they take it and move on.

    It is one of the biggest issues, that we can't stop helping them, because we don't know which group they are in unless we talk to them and get past trust issues. When you do that you find the ones that will be able to be helped, and the ones that need to get past their own issues first, and the ones that live that way because they want too.

    But you can't lump them all together in one pile, they are all a mixed bag, and some don't trust anyone that has more than they do, because City Folk are evil."

    Taken from this discussion


  2. You are right Greg, I've updated the post a bit to soften the rhetoric a bit. The problem is that they dumped everyone into a single unsupervised facility, so the "bad ones" ended up victimizing the "good ones". This is why transparency is key. Instead of trying to get around the laws about establishing group homes and half-way houses, our city and The Other Place should have been open and upfront about what they were doing, and this whole mess would not have happened.

  3. Agency faulted for rent paid to houses homeless:
    A federal audit of The Other Place discovered no major deficiencies, but found the local homeless advocacy group “ineffectively” used stimulus funds and overpaid in rent to house 11 problem homeless near the University of Dayton.

    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s determined The Other Place has a “minor deficiency” in implementing federal housing guidelines and must pay back $1,000 in stimulus money because it overpaid to house homeless people at 604 W. Grand Ave.