Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Homelessness, Urban, and Infrastructure Revitalization Act of 2017

"You can spend the money on new housing for poor people and the homeless, or you can spend it on a football stadium or a golf course." - Jello Biafra

*The Following Text Is a Refuse to Cooperate Exclusive*
*This is the Rough Draft of a Potential Federal Legislative Bill*

Section 1: The State of Things

Homelessness is a very serious problem in the United States of America. One might find it difficult to believe that such a thing is possible, but it is true. Just take a drive through "that part of town," or drive by your city's local soup kitchen, and the reality will slowly sink in. As of January of 2015, 564,708 people were considered homeless on any given night in the United States. This number tends to rise during periods of broad economic hardship, like major depressions. Of that number, 206,286 were people in families, and 358,422 were individuals. About 15% of the homeless population, or 83,170 people, are considered “chronically homeless” individuals. Fully 5% of the homeless population is made up of children. Further, of the total homeless population, roughly 20% of the people are veterans, with 11% of those people being male and 9% being female. As for the role of race in homelessness, African Americans and Latinos are one and half to two times more likely to be homeless than are Caucasians. 

Homelessness in the United States is something that the remainder of the world finds difficult to comprehend. The government and people of this nation claim that the United States is the greatest nation on Earth, yet somehow, as has been noted, the United States has in excess of 500,000 of its citizens living in the streets, with the possibility of more being ejected into the streets during periods of broad economic hardship. There are several circumstances that can lead to a person being homeless such as poverty, poor job prospects in their living area, lack of affordable housing, poor physical or mental health, drug or alcohol abuse, gambling addictions, family and relationship breakdowns, domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse, family instability, and many more. There is also the stigma of homelessness that people are forced to deal with. No matter the circumstances that led to their being homeless, homeless persons find it extremely difficult to escape their condition because of the general public's unwarranted disdain for the homeless.

Standing right next to homelessness is another glaring problem. There are entire segments of major cities around the country that find themselves abandoned and falling into ruin. Abandoned factories and abandoned homes stand testament to a United States of America that has exited the Industrial Age and entered into the Information Age, in which massive factories are not needed as much, and people move for new jobs much more frequently than ever before. However, it is more of a testament of the transportation of jobs to other nations where workers are either willing or desperate enough to work for lower wages. As for the homes are that abandoned, it goes to show that the capitalist economic system in this country has not yet found a way to compensate its unemployed citizens, thus producing the specter of homelessness that follows. Considering the fact that habitable empty homes in the United States outnumber the entire population, homeless or not, by a ratio of 8.5 to 1, one wonders how this specter even exists. It is a direct failure of capitalism.

One can also combine this with the crumbling infrastructure system around the entire country. Bridges are falling apart, common streets are turning into gravel pits, and railways are rotting out because of rust. This is all a result of either poor upkeep, funding cuts, or lack of use. Whatever the result, such things can be both an eye sore and a problem for future development. When the times comes that these roads, bridges, and railways might need to be used again, the cost to repair them will only get worse as time goes on. The same goes for the abandoned factories and homes mentioned above. When one combines the problems of homelessness, infrastructure decay, and urban rot, there seems to be a solution to all three problems staring the nation right in the face. Collect the homeless, place them under the supervision of people hired for the job, and pay them with food, lodging, and full medical care and set them to repairing the living quarters first. Then, put them to work on the roads, bridges, and railways that need repairing, following that up with the abandoned industrial production facilities. It would also be prudent to begin construction on a brand new high speed railway that could connect the country more than ever before. Such a project would take such a long time to complete that homelessness would become a thing of the past. Any labor shortages could be attended to by hiring those thousands of Americans who find themselves unemployed but not yet homeless.

Written below is a measure to be presented before the 115th Congress, which sits on January 3, 2017, at their earliest convenience.

Section 2: The Goals

Task: To end homelessness in the United States, while simultaneously repairing the nation's failing infrastructure and advancing it into the Twenty-First Century.

Conditions: Given a homeless population exceeding 500,000 people; Given failing bridges, roads, and railways;  Given plenty of land available to build new high speed railways; Given abandoned and collapsing factories; Given an 8.5 to 1 ratio of homes to citizens, with over 2 million abandoned homes

Standards: This project will employ the homeless citizens of the United States to repair first, their own living quarters followed the repairing of all other abandoned or ailing living quarters, then the failing infrastructure, followed by the revitalization of the abandoned and failing production facilities throughout the country, to such a state that they can meet the needs of modern industries like renewable energy and electrical vehicles. They will also be employed to construct a new high speed railway system across the country.

Section 3: The Exceptions

While working for this project, the homeless people taken off the street for this project will be provided permanent living quarters, as well as, food, and both physical and mental healthcare, so as to fully address all of the causes of homelessness.  There will be exceptions made for those individuals with disabilities that make physical labor too difficult for them. Such exceptions will be granted to those people who are:

A. Visually Impaired
B. Mentally Impaired
C. Physically Impaired
D. Audibly Impaired
E. Or for any other reason, that is deemed reason enough to make an exception

*For those that cannot perform the physical labor, other forms of labor will be found, so that they can contribute to the project.

Section 4: Types of Property

It is important to not violate anyone's right to the property that they own, so here is a short list of requirements for the government to follow before choosing a building for revitalization. This bill seeks to revitalize or reconstruct buildings, both residential and industrial, that:

A. Are in custody of federal, state, county, municipal, and/or independent government agencies and are not being utilized
B. Have been in a state of foreclosure for a 12-month period or more and are not in active use
C. Are in habitual violation of city zoning regulations and are out of use
D. Have no Known owner
E. Have been uninhabited for a 12-month period or more, no matter who owns them
F. Are on a forfeited property and are uninhabited

*If a property does not meet any of these requirement, but the government still wants it, there will be funding set aside for the government to purchase those lands from the private owners at a, to be determined, cost higher than the market value of the property. 

*Any building deemed a historical site will receive be an exception from qualifying for reconstruction, unless the government agency in charge of the site submits an application asking this program to do the revitalization work for them. There will be money set aside for this, as well.

Section 5: Transportation Work

Transportation is important for any economy. Suburban and urban roads in good condition reduce traffic, and thus, help reduced air pollution. National highways and bridges on the major national transit routes make the transportation of industrial goods much safer, as well as, quicker. The same goes for railways, both local and federal. It is also important that the United States, in order to enter the Twenty-First century, begin the construction of its own national system of high speed rails. The repairs and new construction will be prioritized as follows:

A: Suburban and urban street repairs, to include local bridges
B. National highways and bridges
C. All railway systems, transitioning from local to national 
D. National high speed rails

Section 6: Funding Sources

In a capitalist economy, unfortunately, none of this can be done without incurring a financial cost. Normally, when a bill begins the process of becoming a low, the means by which it will be paid for is not mentioned until the bill gets to the Ways and Means Committee in either chamber of Congress. However, as it is known that this is nothing more than a tool by which Congress can threaten people into doing things they do not want to do, the funding options will be discussed here and now. The usual punishment they wield is the random defunding of a project. It is much harder for them to defund a project if the funding options are written directly into the bill. Some of those possible options are as follows:

A. A 5% tax on the total revenues of churches that make over one million dollars in annual revenues
B. A 5% increase in the tax rate of all people making 1 million dollars, or more, annually
C. A 1% increase in taxes charged to local businesses to be collected by local municipalities
D. A 2% tax raise or adopted tax, depending on the state, on all property values, to include residential,        commercial, and industrial, to be collected by the states
E. Donations from private citizens, charitable organizations and corporate entities

*There is yet another mode of funding for the project that could out perform any of the funding options yet mentioned. This would be a 1% total tax on all sales conducted at every level of the economic chain. It is estimated that this tax alone has the potential to generate $75 Billion dollars annually in tax revenues. This, alone, would be able to fund the project for years to come. This source is still under question, however, as it may require a constitutional amendment to be induced.

Section 7: Additional Labor Sources

It is assumed that all monies raised for this project would go to pay for machinery, tools, equipment, temporary housing units, food, water, first aid, extended physical and mental health care, transportation, staff, and the like. It is important, however, to mention, specifically, the kind of additional personnel that would be needed, on top of the now formerly homeless workers on each site. The money from the means listed above, would also go to pay for the personnel listed below. These would be, but are not limited to:

A. Regional Supervisors
B. Site Managers
C. Professional Contractors
D. Transportation Personnel
E. Security Personnel
F. Medical Personnel

Section 8: Time Frame

If Congress would like to begin with a Pilot Program to show how the Master Program would work, the outline for such a project can be provided; however, if the bill is approved, in its entirety, by both the Senate and the House and signed into law by the President of the United States, is estimated that the project could begin, at least, in its first stages, by January of 2020.

Jo Phelan, Bruce G. Link, Robert E. Moore, Ann Stueve, "The Stigma of Homelessness: The Impact of the Label "Homeless" on Attitudes Toward Poor Persons," Social Psychology Quarterly, Vol. 60, No. 4 (December, 1997), pp. 323-337;

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