Paul Haeder, Author

writing, interviews, editing, blogging

The artist lives down the road, and her roof is seen better days. She’s on social security, sells some of her paintings once and a while, and she wants to live out the life in the 60 year old home.

Leaks and mold.

There are no options for her.

Labor is out of the roof (pun intended) and the materials for that tear out and re-roofing are out the roof.

We live in a place and time — USA — where you can sell that house in Caliifornia for a cool million or two, and then dump half of it in a home here on the Oregon Coast, and then, sort of coast with the 1 million in the investment portfolio (Big Pharma, Big Defense, Big Banking, Big Dirty Rotten Stocks).

But Maggie is not in that same boat.

Millions in the USA are not in that sell high and buy high, but less high, boat.

Easy for people to say, “Well, prices are what they are, so you should just bite the bullet and buy a new roof.”

Aint’s going to happen. Without a cool $15,000 or more to lay out, Maggie is up shit creeki.

No Mormon Tabernacle coming to the rescue.

No Biden or Harris or Yellen or SCOTUS or anyone coming to the rescue. Too many Maggie’s out there in Netflix Solitary Confinement land.

Empathy goes only so far. A GoFundMe page for an injured pig dog on some canine unit somewhere? Tens of thousands.

Now this is fucked up —

Fantasy Author Raises $15.4 Million in 24 Hours to Self- …

Mar 3, 2022 — Brandon Sanderson set out to raise $1 million on Kickstarter in 30 days to fund four new books. He blew past it in about 35 minutes.

This is the predatory, casino, win-the-latto capitalism, man. And, talent doesn’t always rule, and, well, Americanos like to spend their money where it does not count.

Most Americans report having some disposable income left over every month, but not much: 50% say that amount is $250 or less.

On average, Americans spend 58% of their income on necessities, including rent and food, while reserving 20% for flexible spending on items like clothing and electronics. Among those that invest and save, 10% of their monthly income goes to savings, while 5% is dedicated to investing.

Your money — where does it all go?

Depends on how much there is. For those making $16,000 a year, more than half of it goes to housing and utilities. But those making $160,000 a year still have almost two thirds of their disposable income left over after those monthly bills. (Source)

Then you get this silly stuff,

This is not helping the Maggie’s of the world. Mutual Aid? Easy-to-access home repair programs? A caring society? Money well spent by Uncle Sam? So, while all the recriminations take place saying Maggie did not save well, that she got the wrong degree, that her dream of being an artist was absurd, that life is about struggle, so be happy with a leaky root. What about all those bad decisions? Didn’t marry well? All those great friends, why are they not coming to the rescue?

I’ve written articles for my magazine gig on aging in place, on how poverty takes out people big time — life, heart, hearth, you name it. I have hard copies of those pieces, and they do exist on the digital magazine format, but still hard to find. Here, just a few that were collected without the great graphics and artwork and photography: About Paul Haeder. He’s a freelance writer who worked in Spokane as a community college instructor and journalist for more than 12 years.

I really got not much for each story, but some of them won regional journalism prizes. And, so my bad choices, man? Ageing in place? I can still swing a hammer and cut a board and dig fence posts, etc. How long will the L-4 last, the knees hold up?

This is the dog-eat-dog society USA has always been, and that legacy is razing the original tribes’ land and peace and way of life and culture. The legacy of Mainfest Destiny, Go West Young Man, Oh Pioneers, Winner Takes All.

Oh, the pleas of the poor, the just-about-to-lose-it-all.

Then those already on the streets, living in the wet woods, in culverts, squatting.

Behind the faces of Lincoln County’s homeless

 Larry, 74, has been on the streets since he was in his 20s. He was photographed recently at the post office in Waldport. (Photo by Paul Haeder)

By: Paul Haeder – Updated: 2 years ago

Posted Feb 18, 2020

  

(Editor’s note: This is part one of a two part series on Lincoln County’s homeless population)

 LINCOLN COUNTY — The tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to homelessness is what the average person sees on Newport’s streets — mostly men, some women, seeking a public or private building’s overhang to get out of the rain.

Many on the streets are disheveled, struggling with mental health issues and addiction. Others are not so easily identified as homeless people.

Creating a permanent warming shelter is one stop-gap measure the Newport Working Group on Homelessness has been grappling with for more than a year.

On Feb. 5, more than 20 people filled the cramped space in the Avery Building, where Department of Human Services offices are co-located with other agencies, to move this group into achievable goals.

Outside the DHS office, fighting against the gale force rain, many of these house-less people were on the covered concrete pad that leads up to the offices housing SNAP and TANF DHS workers.

They were seeking a dry space and companionship.

I asked one fellow — he said he goes by Fred, age 47 — what he wants immediately as a homeless citizen.

“Look, I see families out there with kids in tents. That’s just not right. I am OK living in the woods, but even a dude like me wants something, some place, to get out or the rain and cold. Even some simple open carport like structure, man. Nothing fancy. They should be all over the place.”

We talked about portable toilets, even cold-water taps and sanitary soaps.

“Look, with this virus over in China, coming here … you think the powers to be would think about sanitation,” he said. “I guess the solution is to let us die off in the woods … or ship us off to come sort of camp.”

Task force with teeth?

Inside the Avery Building, a city council woman, the Lincoln County Sheriff, a plethora of social services leaders, private citizens and others coalesced to try to come up with a plan and priorities. The agenda to create safe transitional housing, welcoming and effective car camping regulations, policies for tent camping areas and siting a warming shelter is daunting. Also on the agenda was the big slice of the pie — addressing health and health-related issues.

Community Service Officer Jovita Ballentine, with the Newport Police Department, and Lincoln County Sheriff Curtis Landers were among the group wondering how all this money spent on services for these so-called “frequent users” of the ER really helps people with mental health issues who spend their days hanging out at such places as the Newport Rec Center.

For Landers, mental illness and addiction are the root causes of the homeless that police agencies run into on a daily basis.

For Samaritan House director Lola Jones, helping homeless get out of the elements and into programs to assist them into permanent housing are part of a bigger picture. She reiterated that the task force is not a panacea for all the underlying issues why people end up homeless.

Amanda Cherryholmes, Lincoln City manager for Communities Helping Addicts Negotiate Change Effectively (C.H.A.N.C.E.), was quick to push back on the myth that more homeless services in an area will bring more homeless into the community. Cherryholmes cited counterarguments to that belief. She also pointed out that car camping allowances and even some concerted effort to have designated spaces with portable toilets and storage facilities don’t address the fact “most people can’t afford to keep their car running when temperatures hit the low 30s or below.”

Also at the meeting was a board member of Grace Wins Haven. Betty Kamikawa, board president, made the point that many in Newport and Lincoln County say, “Hotels are struggling because of Airbnbs. The vacation rentals have caused so many people to become homeless.”

I met people at Grace Wins after the task force adjourned. For Kamikawa and the Haven director, Traci Flowers, the crisis of unhoused individuals in Lincoln County is growing out of proportion to the solutions.

Shelter us from the storm

“We need more shelters first,” Flowers said. “Too many people think the homeless are one type of individual. They are not.” That belief creates huge conflicts within social services agencies, nonprofits, religious organizations and for the homeless themselves.

Cherryholmes wants a more robust assessment of people coming into shelters and transitional housing. “We need to figure out what services the individual needs. Each one has different needs,” she said.

She militated against the idea just any individual should end up in a warming shelter or in car camping arrangements. “There are two distinct groups — families and young people needing shelter, and then single men.” She pointed out that having a sexual offender among a group of homeless in a communal setting is not a good idea. There are some brighter horizons in the mix. Some churches are stepping up to the plate.

Tiny homes, relaxing zoning

Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Kelsey Ingalls, on her Feb. 2 church blog, discussed one small effort to avail the housing shortage: six cottages on church property.

“We formed the exploration team that is undertaking a feasibility study to form a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lincoln County and other local service agencies to help meet the housing needs of homeless, single-parentfamilies,” wrote Ingalls. “The exploration team is looking into the idea of building six, two-bedroom/one-bath cottages on the southeast corner of the church campus. We are proposing a circular village layout with front porches and a central common area. Supportive services would be provided by our local service agency partners.”

Before the task force convened, Blair Bobier, regional director of Legal Aid Services, sent out an email framing the impetus behind the Newport Working Group on Homeless.

“There are many service providers who agree that some form of a ‘coalition’ model is an important next step towards addressing homelessness in our community,” said Bobier. “In other places, one form of this model included a regular meeting of elected officials and law enforcement, along with service providers, to ensure that there was sufficient coordination among involved parties. As has been pointed out, here in Newport, the Lincoln County Affordable Housing Partners is a great example of service providers coming together on a regular basis — along with developers, government officials and members of the faith community — to exchange information and work towards common goals.”

With this large brain trust in one room, and the compassion and passionate solutions-driven people commenting on what needs to be prioritized, it’s clear Newport and Lincoln County at large have many hurdles to overcome as homelessness, and housing precarious situations are growing.

Relaxing zoning laws and rolling up sleeves will help develop coordinated efforts to get people out of the cold, screen people through various social services resources and begin to help coastal communities look at the long-range health of affordable housing in this coastal area.

“Over the two years operating, Grace Wins has had over 2,000 clients coming through. Some stay a while. The fact is by this September there will be no winter shelter, as the commons will be torn down. Nothing for the homeless and the farmers market,” Kamikawa said.

Since Housing and Urban Development no longer funds states for shelters, the onus is on states, counties and municipalities to grapple with the steadily growing problem.

(Part two in this series will appear in a future edition of the News-Times)

Behind the faces of Lincoln County’s homeless: Part II

 Terry, left, 50, and Larry, 74, enjoy the mild weather on a recent sunny day in Waldport. (Photo by Paul Haeder)

By: Paul Haeder – Updated: 2 years ago

Posted Feb 25, 2020

  

(Editor’s note: This is part two of a two-part series on Lincoln County’s homeless population)

What’s inside (their character) when people find themselves outside?

I run these information sessions for a social capital pilot project here in Lincoln County. I had an op-ed on the program in the News-Times last year (“It Takes a Mini-Village,” Sept. 10, 2019).

For all my work attempting to get people — households, individuals on their own, etc. — to sign up for a stipend of $800, I am finding a large case of paranoia, reluctance to share and an atomized population.

A rural county like Lincoln has the appeal of being out in nature or on your own acre, but in reality, everything a city needs, a rural county needs.

The automatization of society is probably the most difficult challenge to educators, social service workers, even employers. It creates fear, isolation and self-effacement.

“To be uprooted means to have no place in the world recognized and guaranteed by others; to be superfluous means not to belong to the world at all.” said Hannah Arendt, political scientist and philosopher (1906-1975).

Isolated individuals do not make up a healthy democratic society. Part of the reason any city the size of Newport is grappling with more direct services for homeless people is to stem that survival-of-the-fittest mentality in order to help people form some sort of communal bonds and deep connections to their communities.

Part of the Task Force on Homelessness is to grapple with what many might see as low-hanging fruit — getting a warming shelter up and running in Newport so there is a permanent place to not only help the homeless during the cold, but also a place where more resources and possible case management might occur.

Unfortunately, many people see the homeless as completely dysfunctional and/or hooked on substances creating a person unable to function as a contributing member of society.

I’ve had many conversations with many people in Lincoln County who are precarious — some living in fifth wheels and their cars. Others are doubling and tripling up housing situations not conducive to raising school-aged children.

In addition, I talk to people in my own community, Waldport, who are both visible to the community and talkative about their homeless situations. There are Terry, Brooks and John (a pseudonym), who I end up conversing with about their own state of homelessness.

All three men are on the streets, but the three of them present themselves as very different humans in their houseless circumstances.

John has lived on the streets for seven years. He tells me he wanted to be a novelist when young. He is outside the Waldport library drinking coffee from the patron appreciation cookies and coffee event the library is hosting.

“Look, most of the services come with a big bunch of terrible things,” he said. “The warming shelter has some bad people there. It’s not a place for families. And women! They have it worse as homeless.”

He’s thoughtful, careful and willing to talk. In some ways, John is jaded by his experiences on the street.

Terry is from Oklahoma, and he jokes about “having a few daily” just to stay warm. He looks and presents himself differently than John. I talk to Terry outside the post office, where he is there looking for some changes.

“I have family down in Oklahoma,” he said. “I choose to be out here, don’t get me wrong.”

Terry is funny, mercurial and presents himself as eccentric, but he has grimy clothes and the stench of alcohol on his breath.

All three men tell me they’d be open to a longer conversation, more in depth, and they even say they’d have a few things to tell any task force or politician around homelessness.

John and Brooks reiterate they are known in the community and assisted with food and a few odd jobs. One businesswoman tells me she gets a “How are you today, miss?” from Brooks regularly. People in Waldport tolerate the three in their community, on the surface.

Many I meet attribute homelessness to laziness, boozing and just downright mental illness. But a true picture of individuals facing homelessness is so much more complicated than that simplistic connotation.

What comes first, homelessness or mental illness? This question pervades conversations in many iterations, but in the end, falling on hard times — loss of a job, physical illness, divorce, eviction, bankruptcy and/or a combination of these — can put a so-called contributing member of society, the workforce, into a quick spiral of unpaid bills, shredded safety nets, a loss of family or social capital.

Mental illness is a result of many varying factors, but ending up in your car with a dog and spouse and a child can be a tsunami of fear, self-loathing, impenetrable lack of confidence and anger. If you have a chronic illness that demands medical attention, the crisis is compounded exponentially.

Running a permanent shelter costs money

Without financial support and volunteers, a shelter is a pipe dream.

“We have to have financial support,” said Samaritan House director Lola Jones at a recent meeting of the Task Force on Homelessness.

Cynthia Jacobi, Newport City Council member, said recently she is hopeful that HB–4001 will spur serious discourse on what to do about the homeless population in relationship to cities having the tools to allow for shelters. House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), has introduced a $120 million proposal to allow cities to more easily site homeless shelters. Kotek also wants a statewide emergency declaration on the homeless problem.

Jacobi, too, sees the need for immediate mitigation and a shelter for this emergency-sized problem here in Newport.

Kelsey Ingalls, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Newport, on her blog tells her congregation a chilling fact most social services agencies in Lincoln County also shudder to contemplate — there’s a 17 percent homeless rate in our local schools. How a community frames the idea that nearly one of every five students doesn’t have stable housing while the county is home to many second-home residents will be important.

Several compelling stories about people who are homeless and dying due to exposure to the elements were discussed at the meeting: according to Betty Kamikawa, an 87-year-old Lincoln County resident was found dead in her car. She had been in an apartment living with her disabled son. Electrical wires were eaten through by rats. She had no electricity. She was evicted. She had a stroke while living in her car with her son.

Putting a face on, and a story behind each homeless person might get the average person to think about how he or she can support a shelter and permanent housing solution as well as volunteering some hours each month to stem the tide of tragedies like this one.

Grilling Newport City Councilor

I decided to ask a Newport City Councilor, Cynthia Jacobi, some questions on homelessness and next steps.

Paul Haeder: What role do you see citizens joining the Homeless Task Force?

Cynthia Jacobi: I’m the city liaison to the Homeless Work Group/coalition.

PH: What role do you see citizens joining the Homeless Task Force?

CJ: I see the role of citizens in the new homeless coalition work group (as yet without an official name or title) as coming forth with the best ideas tailored for our community. Social services, government entities, law-enforcement, interfaith community and concerned citizens can all have a voice in shaping these policies.

PH: Why are you involved?

CJ: I have always felt a strong sense of social justice. I see families with more than one parent working who still cannot afford safe and decent shelter. Sometimes the cost of an illness, a car repair or other unexpected costs forces the choice between buying groceries or paying rent or utility bills. Children in unstable situations are especially vulnerable. As a wealthy society, in good conscience we cannot say there is no room at the inn. We have the means to house all of our population.  With strong leadership and compassion, I know we can do this.

PH: Will the task force cover larger issues?

CJ: There are so many overlapping issues: the new Oregon State House Bill 4001, which may be a game changer in zoning, and funding. All coastal communities have been addressing the short-term rentals impact on housing inventory for working folks. It is a valid suggestion to have a study on the actual impact economically and socially of STRs. For example, does the room tax cover expenses of police and fire departments, wear on roads, etc.?  Who would finance this study? The City of Newport has been instrumental in building Surfview, the 110-apartment complex for lower-income citizens. This will open by summer. This was accomplished with a complex partnership of public and private funds, and the leadership in local city and county government. Need to do more of this.

PH: What role do you see mental health services playing in this move to have both temporary homeless facilities (a night facility) and also a warming shelter?

CJ: My understanding is that the county mental health providers have formed outreach teams that will go directly to unsheltered people, assess their needs and provide services and contacts for assistance.

PH: Car camping at churches and nonprofits and governmental parking areas with some sort of case management and oversight seems like a good first step in getting the housing insecure into a system of evaluation and moving ahead with housing options. Is this the biggest and easiest priority now?

CJ: I think the quickest way to make an impact is to allow safe, supervised car camping in Newport.  Newport Planning Commission is in the process of examining our ordinances to allow car camping in certain defined areas. Along with oversight, outreach teams and case management, this is the easiest first step to create safe shelter areas. Women, children and seniors living in their cars are especially vulnerable. At the very least, they need a safe place to stay at night. We can do this. I heard anecdotally that much of the seasonal help lives in their cars and rents small storage lockers for belongings.

PH: Do you know anyone personally or within a family circle who have been or are housing insecure, or homeless?

CJ: Personally, I have a few family members who have experienced bad luck, poor choices and mental illness causing them to live in unstable conditions. My husband, Gary, and I have volunteered at the overnight shelter.  We have met people displaced from their previous long-term housing, people who can’t afford rent, people who are disabled. A common problem is affordability when working folks have to pay the first month, the last month, a damage deposit and utility hook ups. Before any of this can happen, there is background check costing $50 per adult for each application, even to be placed on a waiting list. While realizing that landlords must be protected, this situation seems unfair. How many working families can afford $2,500 and more up front?

PH: What role do businesses and the chambers have in helping get some sort of affordable housing for the very people who clean the fish, serve the food, chop the veggies, clean the hotels, etc.? Can we get a roundtable together, where we bring a large brain trust together to attack the housing insecurity and the street homeless issues as a multi-pronged problem to solve?

CJ: As far as the responsibilities of businesses and chambers of commerce, some businesses have stepped up to help their workers. In particular, one of the fish plants has purchased motels and converted them to longer-term living quarters. In the last few years, Newport has lost three large economy motels: one deteriorated and was bulldozed, one burned and the fish plant bought another one. These motels were often used as emergency shelters with vouchers by government agencies.

Paul Haeder works in Lincoln County for an anti-poverty nonprofit, Family Independence Initiative, through State of Oregon County DHS funding. His new short story collection, “Wide Open Eyes — Surfacing from Vietnam” was just published by Cirque Press. He’s worked as a case manager for veterans, foster youth and others facing homelessness, substance abuse and employment hurdles. 

+–+

Here, the housing crisis, a la harvard study:

Even as the US economy continues to recover, the inequalities amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic remain front and center. Households that weathered the crisis without financial distress are snapping up the limited supply of homes forsale, pushing up prices and further excluding less affluent buyers from homeownership. At the same time, millions of ehind on their housing payments and on the brink of eviction or foreclosure. A disproportionately large share of these at-risk households are renters with low incomes and people of color. While policymakers have taken bold steps to prop up consumers and the economy, additional government support will be necessary to ensure that all households benefit from the expanding economy. (State of the Nation’s Housing 2021)

Bruce Willis or Batman ain’t coming to the rescue. Predatory Capitalism. The inane in high office. The incompetent in high office. The lobbies overseeing the inompetents and inane in high office. These national and regional and local crises just continue piling up unti we have mental fatigue . . . Stockholm Syndrome. In the USA, there will be no uprising, no national sit-ins, strikes, used tires lit on the main highways.

So the Maggie’s of the world are in the tens of millions. How many out of 355 million are two paychecks away from disaster? How many in the USA do not have $500 for an emergency? What is that credit card debt?

Old Irish song,

Maggie

I wandered today to the hills Maggie
to watch the scene below
the creek and the creaking old mill Maggie
as we used to long long ago

the green grove is gone from the hills Maggie
where first the daisies sprung
the creaking old mill is still Maggie
since you and I were young

2
they say that I’m feeble with age Maggie
My step are much slower than then
my face is a well written page Maggie
and time all alone was the pen

They say we have outlived our time Maggie
as dated as the songs that we’ve sung
but to me you’re as fair as you were Maggie
when you and I were young

+–+

Or Rod Stweart,

Maggie May Lyrics
[Verse 1]
Wake up, Maggie
I think I got somethin’ to say to you
It’s late September
And I really should be back at school

[Chorus 1]
I know I keep you amused
But I feel I’m being used
Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried anymore
You led me away from home
Just to save you from being alone
You stole my heart and that’s what really hurts

[Verse 2]
The morning sun, when it’s in your face
Really shows your age
But that don’t worry me none
In my eyes, you’re everything

[Chorus 2]
I laughed at all of your jokes
My love you didn’t need to coax
Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried anymore
You led me away from home
Just to save you from being alone
You stole my soul and that’s a pain I can do without

[Verse 3]
All I needed was a friend
To lend a guiding hand
But you turned into a lover, and mother, what a lover
You wore me out

[Chorus 3]
All you did was wreck my bed
And in the morning kick me in the head
Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried anymore
You led me away from home
‘Cause you didn’t want to be alone
You stole my heart, I couldn’t leave you if I tried

[Guitar Solo]

[Verse 4]
I suppose I could collect my books
And get on back to school
Or steal my daddy’s cue
And make a living out of playing pool

[Chorus 4]
Or find myself a rock and roll band
That needs a helping hand
Oh, Maggie, I wished I’d never seen your face
You made a first-class fool out of me
But I’m as blind as a fool can be
You stole my heart, but I love you anyway

[Instrumental Interlude]

[Outro]
Maggie, I wished I’d never seen your face
I’ll get on back home one of these days
Ooh, ooh, ooh

+–+

Or, Dylan:

Little Maggie

  1. Oh, where is little Maggie

Over yonder she stands,

Rifle on her shoulder,

Six-shooter in her hand.

  1. How can I ever stand it,

Just to see them two blue eyes,

Shinin’ like some diamonds,

Like some diamonds in the sky.

  1. Rather be in some lonely hollow

Where the sun don’t ever shine,

Than to see you be another man’s darling,

And to know that you’ll never be mine.

  1. Well, it’s march me away to the station

With my suitcase in my hand,

Yes, march me away to the station,

I’m off to some far-distant land.

  1. Sometimes I have a nickel,

And sometimes I have a dime,

Sometimes I have ten dollars,

Just to pay for little Maggie’s wine.

  1. Pretty flowers are made for blooming,

Pretty stars are made to shine,

Pretty girls are made for boy’s love,

Little Maggie was made for mine.

  1. Well, yonder stands little Maggie

With a dram glass in her hand,

She’s a drinkin’ down her troubles

Over courtin’ some other man.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: