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Debunking The Myths About Homelessness - MYTH #1 "THE HOMELESS THREATEN OUR SAFETY"

Do homeless people really commit more violent crimes against people and property than people in homes? Find out the surprising truth about this common myth.

Hello again, fellow Venetians.

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 Many thanks to those of you who went out and fed a homeless person over the Memorial Day Weekend. Chances were one in five that it was a veteran, and if not then in all likelihood it was some deserving person down on his luck.  Good for all of you!

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This is the first in a series of short articles which will be published here from time to time titled "DebunkingThe Myths Of Homelessness". The topic of this first in the series : "THE MYTH THAT HOMELESS PEOPLE THREATEN OUR SAFETY".

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The knock on homeless people in Venice seems to be that "they are a danger to the community". You've heard the pitch : "If we leave them on the streets, they will burglarize our homes, rob us and violently attack us. Concern for public safety mandates that we run them out of town."

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It's the same old story. The wealthy and powerful in our midst take advantage of the less wealthy and powerful, and then give them a scapegoat to hate - somebody even less wealthy and powerful then they - upon  whom they can vent their frustration and rage. 

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Adolph Hitler used this ploy to perfection - he exploited the fears and distress of economically depressed and politically helpless Germans in order to rise to power, and at the same time gave them the Jews as a scapegoat - a people who could be demonized as being responsible for the problems...who could be hated and persecuted while those persecuting them continued to be the victims and pawns of HItler's attempts at fascist world-domination.

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Today, right here in Venice Beach,  little would-be, Hitler-like, power-mongers do the same type of thing - focusing the fears, anxieties and insecurities of Venice homeowners and residents upon those less fortunate, impoverished, homeless and jobless neighbors in our midst. "We have to get rid of them!" we are told. "They are a threat to our safety and security". 

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But it just ain't so.

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According to a National Law Center study on homelessness :

"Homeless people commit LESS VIOLENT CRIMES than housed people. Dr. Pamela Fischer, of Johns Hopkins University, studied arrest records in Baltimore and found that  homeless people were less likely to commit crimes against person or property."  

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Is this an isolated statistic? Nope. 

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According to The U S Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness Survey (2006) :

" The homeless are significantly less likely than housed people to commit a violent crime."

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And, The State of Maine's "Treble Street" online website tells us (April,2011) :

"Targeting the homeless population as a group of individuals to be feared has no basis in fact. Homeless people are more likely to be victims of crimes (including hate crimes) than to become criminals. In fact from 1999-2010 there were a total of 1,074 reported acts of violence against the homeless population that resulted in 291 deaths." 

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Even the American Psychological Association, in its December, 2009, report titled "New Insights On Homelessness And Violence" stated :

 "Criminal activity isn't a staple characteristic of these people,".

(It is interesting to note, however that they did find that homeless people bouncing from shelter to shelter were more likely than homeless people living on the street to commit violent crimes. Apparently, getting them off the streets and into shelters doesn't increase our safety, it decreases it. The goal should be getting them off the street and into some kind of subsidized, low-income affordable housing. That's what Venice Beach's own Venice Community Housing Corporation has been doing for over 25 years, with great success.) 

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Lastly, in a University of California study titled "Criminality and Homeless Men: An Empirical Assessment" (published in the periodical "Social Problems" - Vol. 36, No. 5 - pp 532-549), the authors state : 

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"We are prompted to write this paper by the claim that homeless persons constitute a serious threat to life and property, frequently voiced by people who oppose the location of shelters and services for the homeless in or near their own neighborhoods…this claim is without empirical foundation."

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So much for the myth that homeless people threaten our safety because they commit more crimes against people and property than the rest of us. The simple fact is, they commit LESS.

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Do we really want to be pawns in somebody's attempt to demonize the homeless by playing on our fears and insecurities? Isn't it time we quit hating and started helping?

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Stay tuned for the next installment in this series - "The Myths Of Homelessness".

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Another WorldView June 14, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Spirit - you're getting so god at this little game of whack-a-troll, that I'm starting to consider, going into retirement. Perhaps like Kenny Florian, I could go into color-commentary, and play-by-play work.
Spirit Of Venice June 14, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Every statement made about homelessness and crime is backed up by reports and studies from such respected and notable sources as : The U S Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness Survey (2006), - the National Law Center report - Dr. Pamela Fischer, Johns Hopkins University, The State of Maine's "Preble Street" online website (April,2011) , - The American Psychological Association, December 2009, report titled "New Insights On Homelessness And Violence" and - the University of California study titled "Criminality and Homeless Men: An Empirical Assessment" (published in the periodical "Social Problems" - Vol. 36, No. 5 - pp 532-549). - This article contains no myths, merely verifiable scientific facts. - Statements such as Venice Republican's "Homeless crime is on the rise in Venice." are NOT supported by any facts in evidence, and in fact are untrue. They are made merely to inflame fears and reactionaryism in the community. Venice PATCH is not "biased", it presents all sides of the question, and as this article has PROVEN, most of the homeless in this town are NOT criminals. - So pretty much EVERYTHING said in Venice Republican's post is false-to-fact, in other words, a lie. - This is not a Republican vs. Democrat question, it is a human decency versus human hate and greed question. Which side are you on?
Rick Feibusch June 14, 2012 at 11:11 PM
I can't believe this BS is still going on - look around you - the changes are everywhere - The large hotel chains already have their properties identified on OFW - The City needs tax money - Ruth Galanter's shabby, half-hearted, prison yard makeover of the Boardwalk has degenerated into a more shabby, dirt encrusted shadow of a tourist attraction that most people over the age of 14 have no interest... I know that this must delight the squalor promoters in town, but it will be the reason that the City and the Resort corporations will use to change Venice beyond anyone's control.... And nobody has answered my original question - How many? How long? How funded? How administrated? Or does the absents of an answer mean a free-for-all forever. Love, peace and delusion.... PATHETIC
Spirit Of Venice June 14, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Blog viewers, - Let's don't let all the inflammatory hate-rhetoric obscure the simple point being established here. - Despite what the hate-and-fear-mongers want you to think, government and institutional studies all agree that : - THE HOMELESS POPULATION IS LESS LIKELY TO COMMIT CRIMES OF VIOLENCE THAN THEIR HOUSED NEIGHBORS, NOT MORE LIKELY. - Making them the scapegoats for society's distresses and problems doesn't solve the problems, and it only harms people just like you and I who are less fortunate than we...who are in greater misery than we. - We don't need to fear them or purge ourselves of them, we need to look upon them with compassion - there but for the grace of God go you or I. - Let Venice be a shining example to the world. Let's stop hating and start helping.
Spirit Of Venice June 15, 2012 at 01:38 AM
No, no, Worldview...I trust you are just joshing, whoever he is, but you provide two invaluable services to these conversations...a history of the activities and machinations of the truly virulent among those whose agenda is the destruction of the ambience which is Venice Beach for the sake of money, and many many fresh and insightful thoughts on the issues raised here at PATCH. You have been an inspiration, and you are needed. Besides, I DO have a life...well, sort of...and I SHALL avoid the tar-baby temptation to become consumed in what are often pointless and needless exchanges. We will not always get the last word, nor should we strive for that. We must trust the intelligence of our community...their ability to separate the rose-bushes from the manure. Even if the Venice Black-Ops Brigade sometimes gets the last say, they cannot control the process of evaluation taking place in the individual citizen's mind. You can't fool all of the people all of the time, no matter HOW ugly your spirit or your rhetoric. - Which is a long way of saying that I am not about to take on the job of full-time troll-bopper. We all need to share the load. - Right makes might...don't let any hard-core cynic try to tell you that that is "naive'"...it isn't...it is the truth.

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