Saturday, August 18, 2007


Homeless shelter or Guantanamo?

by Larry Geller

While reading the Advertiser story Hawaii homeless shelter's beds empty last week I was frankly shocked to read quoted comments of a mother staying at the shelter:

"Too much rules," said Kalani, 24. "They're just too strict. It's a good place. I kind of liked it there, you know — a roof over your head, and meals. And they're all good people there. It's just that when I would get in trouble they would keep me locked down. And their rules apply to our kids, too. If our kids mess up, they write us up."

Lockdown??? I thought that the facility was to provide assistance in the form of shelter for the homeless. I planned to check into that but never did. Meanwhile, Doug over at took up the same issue and elicited several comments from his readers in this article.

The comments are insightful, particularly the second one, by David Raatz. In part, "Only the poor, [9th cct Judge Harry Pregerson]  said, must “give up their rights of privacy in exchange for essential public assistance." This is in contrast to the rich, of course, who are not subject to these rules (see David's comment and his link for the complete quote, it's worth your visit).

I'm not satisfied. Of course, a program is operating there and the program has rules, but I thought the state was providing a homeless shelter. Rules are necessary, especially if people are staying at the shelter with current drug or alcohol problems. A "lockdown" seems to be going too far, if that's indeed what it is.

 Maybe we still need a place to shelter the homeless in addition to treatment programs with rules as strict as "lockdowns." One Guantanamo is one too many, we needn't turn a shelter into a prison for our own people.


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