Seventy-One Dead in Minnesota Tragedy

More are expected to die prior to December 17th gathering.

Every year in December, and this has been true for a quarter of a century, there is a memorial gathering and march to commemorate all those who died in the previous year of one of our most insidious social ills: Homelessness.

This year the job of gathering the names of the dead has fallen to John Petroskas. This is John’s third year on this job.

Some stories are particularly hard to hear. It really bothers me when someone reports that a child has died while homeless, but it happens every year. It’s also especially sad for me when someone dies a violent death, but every year homeless people are murdered, commit suicide, or die in tragic accidents. Others die of chronic illnesses like cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and heart disease. Alcohol and drug addiction claim even more lives. Sometimes we don’t even learn the name of the person, or how they died – occasionally all we can list is “unknown man, Minneapolis.”

source

On December 17th there will be a linked series of events that will serve as a sort of memorial, and as a sort of protest. It is organized by Simpson Housing, a non-profit that has operated in Minneapolis for many years. Several other organization will be involved as well.

The details are here.

I’m going to try very hard to be at at least part of this event, or to volunteer to help, or something. If you are local to the twin cities, I hope you will as well.

Comments

  1. #1 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    December 3, 2009

    What kind of fucked up invisible hand do we have when he have so many vacant homes due to foreclosure – condos, townhouses, apartment buildings and single-unit dwelling and then we have so many homeless people.

    Why aren’t the republicans who have benefited so much from the cuts in taxes stepping up to do what they say we should rely on to take the place of social support systems??

  2. #2 Romeo Vitelli
    December 3, 2009

    It’s not just individuals, family homelessness is a growing epidemic as well.

    http://drvitelli.typepad.com/providentia/2009/11/when-families-are-homeless.html

  3. #3 Michael
    December 3, 2009

    Although it makes sense to open up this housing I don’t think it will reduce the problems by that much since many of the problems and causes of death are from things that are more systemic than “simply” not having shelter. However it still can’t but help even if a little.

    Unless the improvement in self-identity that comes from being in a house will do a greater job in improving other aspects of the lives of the homeless?

  4. #4 Stephanie Z
    December 3, 2009

    Michael, the stability of housing, and the resources freed up by not having to sort things out every night, do make a difference. So do the kinds of residential social services our society balks at providing, like wet houses (places where alcoholics can stay even if they don’t give up drinking).

  5. #5 gwen
    December 3, 2009

    Closing the Mental institutions has contributed to more homelessness than almost anything else. The majority of the homeless are mentally ill, and there are no resources. The courts will tell you that it is not illegal to be crazy, which makes it legal to leave them on the street, obviously unable to care for themselves…and to freeze to death. I had an uncle who was schizophrenic since he was in his early 20s. He lived with his older sister with a minimum of symptoms because his sister made sure he took his meds. One the few times he went off his meds, they would have him involuntarily committed until the symptoms were under control again. He actually spent 30 years functioning on his medications without hospitalization. His sister (my aunt) died a couple of years after the laws were changed in California. Trying to get him help was a nightmare, to say the least. He did not take a bath for over a year, our house smelled for days after he came for a visit of a few hours duration, during the visit he mostly talked to voices. He drove around talking to himself and quite often paying no attention to the road and it is a miracle he did not inadvertently kill someone. He was lucky to have a brother willing to take him in with all of his problems and it took 2 long years to get him help. The catalyst was an incident where he was disruptive in a take out restraunt and disturbing the costumers as well as being smelly enough to gag anyone nearby. The owner called the police for help and my uncle pointed an imaginary gun at him through his coat pocket. Luckily the officer quickly coldcocked him rather than shooting him, and he finally got help. He never returned to the baseline of quiet if slightly odd uncle I’d grown up with, but it made life easier for his brother to have a home health nurse come in and administer Thorazine to keep him calm and stop him from writing battle plans over every inch of his home. Another cousin is dealing with a schizophrenic daughter and I see no good outcome here.the daughter is clearly delusional, and refuses to get help. she has threatened her mother and frequents bars where she often leaves with strangers for casual sex. Her mother is beside herself with worry and helplessness, and I see no good ending here. We desperately need to revamp our mental health system… We should be caring for the least among us.

  6. #6 GIANFRANCO FRONZI
    December 4, 2009

    HELLO FELLOW SAVANTS,HERE IN CANADA THE HOMELESS ARE IN ROUGH SHAPE COME WINTER.BUT I NOTICE ANOTHER VARIANT IN THEIR NOT SEEKING HELP ,EVEN WHEN IT IS AVAILABLE.
    IT SEEMS THAT THESE PEOPLE HAVE LEFT SOCIETY AND IT’S CORRUPTION,AND THEIR PRIDE OF NOT PLAYING THE GAME,OF SOCIAL CONFORMATY DIRECTS THEM TO DEATH WITH HONOUR,AT LEAST WHAT THEY SEE AS NOT GIVING IN.THESE PEOPLE WON’T ACCEPT HELP.AS FOR THE REST I’M SURE THE UNITED STATES AS WELL AS CANADA HAS HELP AVAILABLE,IF NOT WHAT TYPE OF SOCIETY DO WE HAVE WHEN LITTLE MONEY COULD SAVE CITIZENS,YET BILLIONS IS SPENT ON HELPING PEOPLE IN OTHER CONTINANTS.TATWOGF/DEC/4/08 GIANFRANCO FRONZI SAULT CANADA

  7. #7 jolly
    December 4, 2009

    Gianfranco, you must mean we spend billions to kill and control people in other countries. Surprisingly, people who are mentally ill quite often don’t trust others (I only have what they call ADD and I learned not to trust others while growing up and I’m not paranoid) so they have a hard time filling out forms to get help. Has anyone else noticed a lot of problems really became huge problems after the Reagan Revolution?