All the Rooms for the Homeless Supposedly Going Begging — and a Proposal to Take the McAdams Test

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C’mon guys — its for science! And we could even wear disguises!

Because some people won’t read past the first paragraph, I’ll put this link up here before discussing it later: read this piece on the quiet decision of Ben McAdams  Mayor of Salt Lake County (i.e., the entire Utah County in which Salt Lake City lies, excluding the city itself) to spend three days and two nights posing as a homeless man and trying to seek shelter and other aid from the services in his area.  It’s so good — especially in detailing what it is that actually keeps people away from shelters — that you wonder why this sort of “product testing” isn’t routine.

Now back to OC and our somewhat different approach to the issue.  There’s an argument going around that we already have more than enough free room in OC to house the homeless.  It is not one based, as you might expect, on interviewing the homeless about their own experiences — but it’s the kind of “fact” that can justify personal and collective inaction, which is pretty clearly its intended purpose.  An anonymous commenter (naturally) in the Cunningblog typifies this “blame the poor” pitch:

Don’t be fooled. Those people do not want help. There are more than 100 shelters and facilities specifically designed to help the homeless in and around Orange county and they have plenty of room. Those people don’t like the idea of rules and not doing drugs, therefore they do not go to the shelters and do not want help.In case you doubt, here’s a list copied from the OC Register

Isaiah House Orange County Catholic Worker
Families Forward Irvine, Casa Teresa Orange
Colette’s Children’s Home
The Courtyard, Orange Coast Interfaith Shelter
Serving People, South County Outreach Lake Forest
StepHouse Recovery, Fullerton City Lights – Single Room Occupancy
Casa Teresa, Inc. Orange, Wiseplace Santa Ana
His House Placentia – Homeless Transitional Shelter
Serving People in Need (SPIN)
We Care Of Los Alamitos
Eli Home Transitional Housing for women
New Directions For Women
Halcyon Landing – Anaheim Interfaith Shelter – Halcyon
A Safeplace Transitional Living Facility
Salvation Army Shelter Santa Ana – Hospitality House
Salvation Army Hospitality House Huntington Beach
Fullerton Interfaith Emergency Services
Fullerton Interfaith Shelter
Fullerton, CA 92834
Thomas House Temporary Shelter
New Horizons Shelters of California
Mercy House – Fullerton Armory
Orange County Cold Weather Armory Emergency Shelter program
Apartment living shelters.
Department of Housing & Urban Development – HUD
Women’s Transitional Living Center
Santa Ana Housing Authority
Unity House – Halfway House
All’s Well Home – Recovery Home
Casa Elena Woman’s Recovery Home
Cooper Fellowship Residential Recovery
Crossroads Transitional Housing Santa Ana
D.A.R.T. Inc. (Drug Alcohol Recovery Team)
Gerry House – Halfway House
Glenhaven Halfway House San Clemente
The Grace House – Halfway House Transitional Housing
Heritage House Haflway House For Women
Roque Center Halfway House
The Salvation Army Adult Rehab Center
Unidos Recovery Home Halfway House
First Steps at Beverly’s House
Straight Talk – Next Step Cypress
Grandma’s House of Hope
Harbor View Terrace Apartments – For Disabled
Mary Erickson Community Housing
Crittenton Services For Children & Families
Good Shepherd Communities
Costa Mesa Village Single Room Occupancy
Irvine Inn – Single Room Occupancy Apartments
Park Place Village – Single Room Apartments
Sisters of St Joseph of Orange – Bethany Ministry
Mary’s Shelter Transitional Housing
New Vista Shelter Transitional Housing
Precious Life Shelter
Illumination Foundation Supportive Housing and Services
Halfway Houses Inc Huntington Beach
Orange County Housing Authority Santa Ana
City Of Anaheim Housing Authority
Santa Ana Housing Authority Santa Ana
Garden Grove Housing Authority Garden Grove
Friendship Shelter Laguna Beach – Homeless Shelter
Thomas House Temporary Shelter
The Sheepfold – Women’s Transitional Housing Shelter Orange
Gilchrist House San Clemente
Homeaid America Newport Beach
South County Outreach Lake Forest
The Teen Project Rancho Santa Margarita
Orange County Community Housing Santa Ana
Mercy House Transitional Living Center Santa Ana
Community Housing Assistance Program Inc Orange
Community Housing Assistance Corporation Newport Beach
Jamboree Housing Corporation Irvine
Orange County Community Housing Corp. Santa Ana
Orange County Fair Housing Santa Ana
Neighborhood Housing Services Inc Anaheim
Santa Ana Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. Santa Ana
Garden Grove Housing Corporation Newport Beach
Affordable Housing Clearinghouse Lake Forest
Lutheran Social Services Of Southern California Orange
Orange County Rescue Mission, Inc. Tustin
Aids Services Foundation Orange County Irvine
Friendly Center, Inc. Orange
Project Dignity Garden Grove
Garden Grove, CA 92840
Veterans First Santa Ana
Lauras House Ladera Ranch
Orange County’s United Way Irvine
Caritas Of Vista Irvine
Savings Faith Ecumenical Churches Garden Grove
Orangewood Childrens Foundation Santa Ana
Christadelphian Joy Fund Huntingtn Beach
Riverside Charitable Corporation Orange
Pathways To Independence Los Alamitos
Orange County Affordable Homeownership Alliance Irvine
The Walking Shield American Indian Society Lake Forest
Steps Of Hope Outreach Fullerton
Seaview Lutheran Plaza Inc Corona Del Mar
Homeless Veterans Stand Down Foundation Newport Beach
Mary Christina Mercado Foundation Orange
Rebuilding Together Orange County Tustin
Neighborhood Housing Services Of Orange County Anaheim
Springboard – Mission Viejo Mission Viejo
Phoenix House Halfway House
Roque Center Garden Grove Halfway House
Stanton Halfway Home
Orange County Halfway House Inc, Fullerton
Mercy House – Guadalupe Residence
Mercy House – Santa Ana Armory
South County Outreach Sco – Transitional Housing Program
Orange County Rescue Mission – Men’s New Life And Emergency Shelter (for Men)
Orange County Rescue Mission – House Of Hope (for Women And Children)
Orange County Rescue Mission – Hope Family Housing
Community Services Programs – Youth Shelter Of Laguna Beach (for Ages 11 To 17)
Community Services Programs – Youth Shelter Of Huntington Beach
Casa Youth Shelter
Laurel House (for Ages 12 To 17)
Mercy House – San Miguel Residence
Mercy House – Assisi House
Mercy House – Joseph House (for Men)
Mercy House – Regina House (for Women And Children)
Mercy House – Emmanuel House (for Adults With Hiv/aids)

I called a bunch of them. They have room…

I don’t believe that the anonymous author called many of them, or that the “room” they have is sufficient to the need. But that’s something that we can test!  And I propose that we do.

So this is a challenge to Matt Cunningham, Dan ChmielewskiNorberto Santana (or Nick Gerda as his designee), Gustavo Arellano, Art Pedroza. and whatever male reporter (just to keep the comparisons better, although I’d love to see female bloggers or reporters try this as well) the OC Register would like to assign.

I’ll replicate the “McAdams test” if all of you agree to do so as well.  We can work out the details, but I suggest that some trustworthy third party randomly assign each of us to contact 25 of the above locations (those catering to adult men) with supposedly available housing on the first morning of the experiment, arrange housing for the night, try to find food, do the same for the second day and night, and then make an arrangement for a third night without using it (it can be cancelled.)  Ideally, one night would be spent outside of a formal shelter (the first night if need be, otherwise the second) and one within a formal shelter.  (Come on, there’s supposedly plenty of room!)   Then we’d write up the results in our individual publications and compare notes.

To any of the above who might hesitate: I’m willing to do it despite three significant disadvantages: (1) I’m strictly lacto-vegetarian and have been for almost 40 years, (2) I’m diabetic so combining that with my vegetarianism I’m much more likely to end up in trouble than those who aren’t, and (3) I really don’t like wearing shoes when I can avoid it — but for this I think that I’d be making an exception.

I’d like readers’ help in cajoling the above-named people to accepting the challenge — and I’m not really in touch with any of them other than maybe Norberto — so if you want to see this happen you can email them with this URL and encourage them to take “the McAdams Challenge.”  (Each of us could take a buddy with us, as McAdams did, for added safety.  Not a cop or anyone else armed, please.)

What McAdams found, by the way, is that the notion that “[Homeless] people don’t like the idea of rules and not doing drugs, therefore they do not go to the shelters and do not want help” is pretty much wrong.  There was drug use in the facility he stayed in — as well as an ever-present threat of violence — and homeless people largely chose to sleep outside instead in order to stay away from it!  This plausible notion totally upends the sorts of theories that people have about the homeless and the availability of help — and, incidentally, is a strong argument for outdoor lodging with ample security along the lines of Nancy West’s “Alfresco Gardens” proposal.  (It’s also an argument for totally legalization of drugs, to take the money out of drug trafficking, but we don’t need to go there now.)

Homeless people live without access to what we relatively comfortable folks in my list take for granted — surely we can put up with it for a couple of days, for the greater glory of blog reporting, right?  Let’s see who else has the guts to try.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. One of his daughters co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)