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” …. . . …….. I 41. ………………… k’ ly.sis:7 4,11/14,02;NWRIs sis il igsilat i ligilk:’s ith iffsk ,,,.. . .. ………………………….. Abandoned, bereftillegal of the homeless population in a city became homeless in that city. The homeless are nothing more or less than the poor, made visible by their lack of housing \(and hence the title of Joel Blau’s fine academic treatment of homelessness The Visible Curiously, this latest assault on the homeless occurs just as the housing market in Austin has become tighter than anyone can remember. Austin dropped twenty-odd places on someone’s list of best cities in America to live in, and enormous rent increases were blamed for that. Of course the poor fall out of the bottom of the housing market in such a situation, but it is more than that. Some agencies now require prospective tenants to be bonded in addition to providing a large deposit. A substantial rent increase at the renewal of a lease is a certainty and there is almost no hope at all of finding cheaper quarters, so rare are vacancies in affordable housing. It is a curious effect of psychology that the more people who are threatened with the real prospect of homelessness, the more those who are already homeless are despised. William Burroughs has called this the smallest monkey effect. When the big monkey attacks a smaller monkey, the smaller monkey does not strike back, but instead finds yet a smaller monkey to attack. But at the bottom of the chain is the smallest monkey. When the landlords squeeze the tenants, the rage must be vented somewhere, and the homeless person is the smallest monkey. Is a downtown merchant threatened by the vast malls? Attack the smallest monkey. It is the homeless, he concludes, not his high overhead, that drive away his customers. A silver smith in Austin’s open-air market near the University of Texas was interviewed about the homeless. He said they drive away his customers. This was what the merchants in the nearby stores said about the merchants in the open-air market some twenty-five years ago when the market was established. The homeless must be driving away the craftsman’s customers, no matter that business in the market always has been marginal except immediately before Christmas. There is a smaller monkey for everyone, except for the smallest monkey. ALAN POGUE It is only logical that as the misery index in Austin rises, the city council would pum mel the smallest monkey a bit themselves. I find it very difficult to believe that any one on the council really can be sincere in saying that help is provided for the home less in the programs that the city funds. Perhaps I have underestimated the ability of the comfortable to delude themselves. Perhaps I’d better be explicit: the city’s programs for the homeless are a sick joke. Not as much as a dime on the dollar of the money the city expends on these programs is delivered as something of material value to the homeless. Of course lavish amounts are expended on hir ing counselors and social workers to hold the hands of the poor and to counsel them and to give them good advice, but for raising roof beams or dispensing bread and blankets, there is very little. Programs for the homeless are still predicated on the theory that the homeless have some other problem than lack of housing. When Travels with Lizbeth was still fresh off the press and I was considered the golden boy of homelessness, an official of the Clinton administration came to Austin to explain Clinton’s plan for dealing with homelessness. \(You may not know there was a Clinton plan for the homeless be It is a curious effect of psychology that the more people who are threatened with the real prospect of homelessness, the more those who are already homeless are despised. 8 SEPTEMBER 29, 1995