Homelessness in South Carolina



Please welcome our newest guest contributor, "hardybear" from Free Range Talk freerangetalk.com. She was kind enough to offer to swoop in to help us out while we get our sea legs back following Paddy's passing. She's a sweetheart, a lifesaver, and a terrific journalist. Thank you from all of us, Ms. Bear!

Here's her first post, on homelessness:

Homeless in South Carolina

Photo credit Eric Campos, The State.

Original story from thestate.com

Does the GOP even bother to include the modern American homeless population in their pithy 47% calculation?

It would seem that the homeless in one of Governor Nikki Haley's more prominent South Carolina cities of distinction -- her capital, in fact --  nearly had the long term hospitable choices of being detained then bussed far out of sight (and, ideally, pocketbook) or being forcibly herded into proposed 'emergency' shelters by hosts with guns. The third option was arrest.

The Columbia City Council unanimously approved the evacuation, er, Emergency Homeless Response measure on August 13, 2013. Within hours, police officers realized that they were to be charged with the duty of regularly chauffeuring its area's approximately 1,500 homeless belles, gents and children into real or implied lockdown.

You see, they threaten the fledging shoots of an economic upturn for the fortunate. The Have Nots are standing in the way of post-recession profit and some City Council leaders decided that the most disenfranchised of all should be 'held accountable'.

Along with many American cities damaged by the Bushee economy, Columbia rightfully seeks to revitalize its core.  In this case, 181 prime acres of Capitol City land formerly occupied by the state mental hospital near their historic center. It may not have the number of zero's attached to say, a Hoboken, New Jersey development project ... but the City Council believes their Bull Street Development will lay golden eggs aplenty for the Makers if handled properly.

Which includes evicting the growing homeless population of Takers from their coveted Downtown. And keeping them out ... the Council ideally wanted armed police on guard to keep it clear of the unwashed/unwanted. There are even grandiose hopes for a multi-million sports $tadium. Revenue and dignified rebel yells.

Prudently, wiser minds and a public outcry prevailed. The Council's Draconian accommodation measures were rejected, reversed and evinced proper amounts of disgust by September 3rd. ||Free Times original story  ||  A Richland county council member was quoted as saying they had barely avoided "concentration camps".

Now how might enough of these neatening 'shelters' for Columbia, S.C. have magically appeared, given both the city and state's much-touted dedication to fiscal responsibility? Never fear, the conservative members of the City Council proposed the perfect storm of Republican solutions:  appropriate these homeless slackers' collective wealth,  in the form of food assistance monies, disability benefits or any other government handouts the recipients might be mishandling.

Presumably they'd each be handed Seinfeldean Puffy Shirts in exchange.

Columbia Councilman Cameron Runyan*, the savant co-creator and champion of the homeless relocation program called the Emergency Homeless Response" [ PDF here:  ] would know well the plight of the homeless in the historic downtown - he and his family proudly attend the First Presbyterian Church -- a stroll from the Bull Street development and re-gentrification project. Runyan said the city must maintain “a healthy tension” between caring for the homeless and holding them accountable.

According to The Free Times, Runyan has made this issue a personal crusade.       ||  Story here  ||  Not unsympathetic, he merely believes in the Lipton Brigade slash Randian boot-strap model of upward mobility, saying "We have to understand that the only cure for poverty is commerce. That is the only true response to poverty, to get people out of poverty. So if poverty is left unchecked, it will destroy commerce. So we've got to protect commerce to have a response to poverty."
Corporations may now be people, but in conservative southern climes commerce is clearly valued over y'all.

Homeless in South Carolina

Photo credit: dcexposed dot com

Original story

Photo by Sean Rayford - Free Times

Two people walk past an urban camping scene on Main Street in Columbia in August 2013. Photo by Sean Rayford - Free Times

Original story

Southern-fried irony: Columbia threw itself a splashy 50th year celebration of their importance to the Civil Rights movement.
Original story

  • josephazar

    Thanks! Liberal? Conservative? What do they really mean? Who is what? All the time? No one really. Let us quit using these to divide us, quick labels to eliminate thinking and caring. Let us instead analyze each issue on merit. We all care about prices; we all care about cancer. Whether it is finances or environment, it affects us all.

    Yes, stealing the food stamps and other support is quite cruel. There are other options. We will never eliminate homelessness as some actually choose to be, somewhere between 5 to 15%, according those I have met that run shelters, but we can help the others, if we intelligently address the subject, and cooperatively work to eliminate the problem.

    There are many solutions, each needing to be tailored in some way for each situation. But liberal or conservative? Homelessness affects us all. There are people on both "sides" that care and help. Let us not divide us here; rather let us learn to work together without blame and stigma that causes division and anguish.

  • I'm pleased that you commented josephazar, especially with local knowledge in tow. If we agree that Runyan's plan was a bust, we may have to agree to disagree that poor decisions by members of either party can't be criticized for impersonating those of conservative extremists.

    However, I felt that by not labeling Councilman Runyan a Democrat or Republican (as you say, these seats should indeed be filled by non-partisan stewards of the public trust), his policies and intent could be judged on merit or lack thereof. Not knowing the man personally, I offered an angle of opinion based on his quotes and actions. As did the ACLU.

    The council's actions on this matter - collectively - were considered conservative enough to be thought extreme - and thus soon rescinded. I referred to the proposed part of the measure which sought to pay for itself by taking food stamps and benefits *from* the homeless themselves, which you wisely opposed, as a Republican kind of solution -- because the modern GOP has not evinced great concern lately for homelessness or hunger in my humble opinion - and you are most welcome to disagree.

    I am but a guest contributor and relatively new at that, but liberals in general reserve the right to use snark when public servants of either party create or support programs deeply contrary to our core values. The post is clearly satirical - and I took some shots at a mindset that I believe harmful to communities in general. You will note above that the The Political Carnival is well marked a Progressive site.

    I do take the warning about divisiveness to heart - perhaps this is an issue that touches so many of us so deeply, that it percolates up extra vinegar. I will also remember your stopping by to give more information, offer a local perspective and make an effort to bring your viewpoint on what is happening in Columbia.

  • josephazar

    Geez! You make this a partisan issue! First, city council elections are non-partisan. Second, council is at least 5-2 democrat. Third, Runyan is a democrat. Fourth, mayor Benjamin is a democrat, and his election campaigns and his strong mayor campaign were all run by GOP powerhouse Quinn and Associates.

    If you want to be read and respected as a writer of substance, write factually. But if all this is just a site to blast the GOP, you have done a good job of that while bending the facts. Your article helps make all of the GOP enemies, never to be trusted, not human, etc etc. Nice Lee Atwater tactics that Dems now use as well. Keep one side hating the other and you keep your troops under control.

    I was one that strongly opposed the Runyan plan. He actually took from proposals and projects I had created years before and bastardized them into a gestapo like plan. Not only was his plan inhumane, but illegal and a far too great a burden on the police, who did not want it anyhow.

    There are reasonable "solutions" to homelessness, not that there will ever be an end to it, and you will know what I mean if you know the situation intimately. We have spent much to achieve little, and done it in the wrong way.

    Please try to be more open minded and fair in future articles. We do not need more division among us. Even Atwater tried to atone for his sins on his deathbed, apologizing for his actions. Let us not continue a bad legacy, no matter what party!