You may have watched the Democratic presidential hopefuls pitch their “One Big Idea” during the debates this last week. However, they have no monopoly on ideas, big or otherwise. I posted four of my Big Ideas earlier.
Here’ my sixth Big Idea: Solving Homelessness in America.
Let’s face facts; we have problems that need to be solved. Homelessness is one such problem. In January 2015, there were 564,708 homeless on a given night in the US. Of that number, 83,170 are considered "chronically homeless”. Usually, the solutions put forth by politicians are so complex no one can understand them, let alone implement them. Politicians think to be acceptable, a solution must be complex. Not true. Sometimes the right solution is simple and maybe even counter intuitive or hard to implement. Two of the causes for homelessness are lack of shelter or housing and unemployment for the homeless.
Employment: Here are some ideas for employment for the homeless:
- Rent a Zombie for a Day. Volunteer makeup artists make the homeless look like zombies who then hire out by the hour or day for parties.
- Tour a Zombie Zone. Areas where homeless congregate could be turned into zombie zones for tour buses. Again, volunteer makeup artists would be needed.
- Rent a Boyfriend/Girlfriend. People could hire a homeless person as a boyfriend or girlfriend to make parents shut up about finding someone and stop trying to set up dates.
- Rent a Plus One. No one needs to go single to another wedding or party when they can rent a homeless person. Veterans would cost extra (12% of all homeless adults are vets).
- Rent a Snitch. Police could pay homeless people for leads. They could supply them with body cams to catch criminals.
- Rent a Vote. Politicians could hire homeless to vote. They could even be bused into Massachusetts.
- Rent a Homeless Person to Impress Your Friends (vets cost extra). People could hire a homeless person to impress their friends or to impress college admittance boards.
- Rent a Protester. Political activists could hire homeless people to swell the ranks of protesters. They could even hire them as counter protesters for staged confrontation to ensure making the evening news.
- Trash Pick-up. Homeless people already pick up aluminum cans and copper for cash from recycle yards. If cities would offer a flat rate for trash – say one dollar a pound – the homeless could keep parks and roads clean.
- Rent a Passenger. People who live in big cities sometimes need a passenger so they can use the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane. Pick up a homeless person for a passenger.
Cost will vary by distance.
- Rent a Line Up. Police always need warm bodies for police line ups. Why not hire homeless persons?
- Save a Parking Space. Often when people want to attend a popular sporting or entertainment event, they can’t find a parking spot. Homeless people will camp out on a parking spot and save it for a fee.
- Save a Place in Line. Sometime people would like to go shopping on Black Friday or buy tickets to a popular event but hate to stand in line. Rent a homeless person to camp out in line to save a space.
- References. Need references for your resume or job application? Hire homeless references.
- Extras for Zombie or Disaster Movies. Zombie or disaster movies need lots of extras. Homeless people could fill the need, Zombie movies will require some make up, but homeless people are ready made for disaster movies. Standard pay is $50 per day plus lunch.
Shelter: Here are some ideas for shelter for the homeless:
- The simplest solution to the homeless problem is for people with homes adopt a homeless person. There are 43.7 M residences in the US. That’s 77+ homes for each homeless person. Done deal – except no wants to adopt a homeless person.
- Another solution would be to use vacant houses or building as shelters for homeless. According to Amnesty International USA, vacant houses outnumber homeless people by five times. Some charities have bought buildings to develop into housing for the homeless.
- Cities could also allow homeless people to live in their car, if they have a car, in city owned parking lots.
- Certain cities could allow homeless to camp out in small tents on city property.
- Here are some ideas for shelters:
Shipping containers make an even larger shelter.
The cardboard from two or three mattress boxes can be made into a shelter. A little plastic, and it’s waterproof.
Over passes often have unused space under them that can be converted into shelters.
Let’s not forget using empty jails cells. Jails would provide free meals.
Of course, there’re other serious issues concerning the homeless, but shelters and employment are high on the list. Causes of homelessness in the US include, but are not limited to lawful eviction, PTSD, mental health, natural disasters, drug abuse, gambling, and low-paying jobs.