Like a Joe Pesci movie come to life

The Crimson reports on a sociology class where the professor brought in three homeless Harvard Square guys to talk about their experience.



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    I wonder what the lawyers had to say about this ... it isn't research, but it could get problematic.

    Not that it wasn't a good idea, although there are formerly homeless people who are students at Harvard.

    They were probably compensated for their trouble, but that can be trouble if the amount of money offered is coercive.


    No IRB required

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    The IRB only gets involved when human subject research is conducted, not when guest speakers are invited to class.

    No issue

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    These were adults, right?

    Just because someone has a disability doesn't mean they can't consent to things. Even when someone has significant impairment in judgment, we still only take away as many rights as are necessary. I know many people have a guardian appointed for medical decisions only, but can travel freely in the community, accept or reject job offers, hold their own money, etc.

    This is no different than the people from the community who come and volunteer to talk to a class about their career, their experience parenting a child with a disability, etc.

    This is ridiculous

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    The homeless all say they feel ignored by the government, yet the government has tons of programs made to help the homeless and otherwise unfortunate: welfare, Section 8, MassHealth, etc.


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    And they do spend tons of $, but the reality is it's difficult, often very difficult, get help with any of these programs, ESPECIALLY if you're a guy. Almost all programs designed to get housing for the homeless and many other forms of assistance are aimed mostly at woman and children. And if you try to do it on your own by contacting public and private agencies, most time it's a complete waste of time, phone calls, emails, etc., are rarely returned, it's extremely difficult to get a real, live human being. Generally you must go through a middleman/woman, i.e. social worker or other. I'm forced to conclude the talk about so-called 'Poverty Pimps' is true. Where does all the big sums of $ go in both public and private [non-profit] advocate organizations? Intelligent people can answer that question themselves, they don't need me. The executives who run many advocacy programs, including 'non-profit' make big $. Private contractors can also make nice $. But obviously, although the system certainly is profitable for some, it does a poor job at tackling it's alleged mission. Here's one [just one] story:

    A person close to me got on medicaid [Masshealth], after about 6 months or so apparently a letter was sent by regular 1st class mail informing them they must re-certify or some such phrase to stay on it. Fair enough, but that letter was never recieved, and I knwo because I was receiving their mail. The next thing that was delivered by 1st class mail was a letter saying withing 48hrs this person was going to be thrown off Medicaid. I didn't actually open that letter until 1 day after the fact. At this point you must set up an appointment to appear before a review group to re-apply for the Medicaid, something which can take a long time. And contacting people as advised in the letter to set up this appointment and to remain on Medicaid until the meeting was futile.

    I had to help someone close to me out, and it was an education that's for sure. The red tape and general very poor quality or non-existent help from both public and private advocacy groups and agencies was an eye opener. Something is seriously wrong when you consider all the $ thrown at this problem and the constant begging for more $.

    Mental illness

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    The classic "homeless" people who one sees and immediately labels as "homeless person" have persistent major mental illness. They're not usually able to access these sorts of programs because they'd have to have their shit together enough to apply, show up at appointments, check their mail regularly, etc. Also, many of them have paranoia and don't trust these programs. There are of course programs that more extensively help people with persistent mental illness, but people still have to agree to participate in these. These are people whose executive functioning (ability to think through the steps of a process and have cause-effect skills, basically) is often completely nonexistent.

    I worked with a guy who wouldn't agree to live in a group residence because you can't smoke inside. He just couldn't comprehend that he'd have a safe place to live, people to make sure he got to his appointments, health insurance, etc., but yes, would have to go out to smoke. Other people repeatedly get kicked out for breaking rules, but their behavior isn't a danger to anyone, so they become homeless again. There's no easy solution.

    Another problem with mentally ill homeless

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    If you're out on the streets, how do you know when you're supposed to take it? What if you lose it? What if someone steals it from you at the shelter?

    Many also trade or sell the

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    Many also trade or sell the medications creating even more problems.

    The supreme court cases of the 1980s and state level policies which combined resulted in the closure of all the mental health campuses were big mistakes.


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    So treating the homeless like lab rats is acceptable at Harvard/