Crazy Sh!t, Volume 3, 2016

Time for everyone’s favourite blog – the crazy shit from July, August and September.

$1.8M vs $4.3M

Let me get this straight, the motel operator, who is in his late 70s, wants to sell you all of his properties for $1.8M (way below market value because he believes you are doing the Lord’s work) so you can continue to use them to help homeless families where you have given the operator $4.3M in fees over the past three years, but it does not make financial sense? (Even if one of the properties is RIGHT ON THE OCEAN and a recent building audit for the entire portfolio of properties showed the buildings to be in REMARKABLE SHAPE!!!)


“I would like to speak with your boss. Does he know the things you say when presenting?”

How to handle this delicately….yes, I know the things he says because I am the boss – though I dislike that title.


“In your speech this morning you cited Census data, SAMSHA data, data from your government, HUD data, and at least seven different academic papers. This is what makes your conclusions so remarkably bad – none of these are direct service providers. None of these see the reality of homelessness every single day. Those of us on the frontline know that the reality is way different than any study every published by anyone.”

And that, folks, is a great example of what happens time and time again if you try to persuade people with data and evidence. Part of it is operational bias. Part of it is cognitive dissonance. All of it is a compelling example of why putting proof of alternatives to current service models can be more important than just talking about the alternatives. In my defence, this was a reaction to things I said at a keynote – which was not the right venue for me to explain how to make things operational in great detail.


“I read with interest your tweet about the upcoming OrgCode Learning Clinics. We are a small group of concerned citizens working to improve homeless services in the Pacific Northwest. We are unable to attend any of the Learning Clinics (no budget for travel or conference attendance), but we are hoping you would consider sending us all of the material so we can use it to educate services, government, and the general public in Seattle and the surrounding area. As you may know, we have plenty of issues up here, especially with tent cities. What you are teaching could have the answers we have been looking for.”

I think it is admirable that a group has banded together to try and improve homeless services. But I am astounded that would think we would just turn over all of the materials from the newly announced Learning Clinics to help out.


“You could have just said, ‘no thanks’ instead of lying you are that busy.”

This came to me in an email when I said the next open dates I have in my schedule is January. I wasn’t lying. Apparently, though, they took offence and thought I was brushing them off. Then when I had two postponed events and got back in touch with them they indicated they did not want to “play games”. Sigh.


“That’s your opinion.”

Nope. As it turns out, those are the facts. People are allowed to have their own opinions. They are not allowed to have their own facts. So, if I have facts and you have opinions, I will. If that pisses you off and you want to complain to the VA? So be it. Though I do hope, woman in Florida, that a better organization serves people in your county.


“HUD is out to take away our transitional housing in the same way Hillary is out to take away our guns.”

This is what makes places like Texas fun to do work within. If by “fun” I meant “frustrating as f*ck”.


“How do I get people to stop forwarding me your blogs? About once per month at least a half dozen people want me to read what you wrote in your blog. I am sick of it. I do not like you or what your business stands for.”

Turns out the blog on day services was the last straw for this Rescue Mission in the Southwest. Turns out, though, I have no control what people want to forward to him in his community. Oh well.


“Businesses in our downtown are thinking of blaring music every night to make sure people cannot sleep in their doorways. They want me to ask you if Metallica or Mariah Carey would be better. Any studies on which are better for keeping people away – metal or pop music?”

I refuse to participate in non-sleeping playlists.


“I am writing you today hoping this question does not put me in the Crazy Shit blog. Keep in mind I am asking for my boss. She wants to convert one of our transitional housing programs. She wants it to be abstinence-based and require that people can prove three months of employment prior to entry. She is not against having people with a mental illness live there, but wants them to prove they take medications. How can you spin this so it falls within ‘Housing First’ and make sure we get points from our CoC in our application if we go this way? We were thinking of calling it Site Based Recovery Oriented Rapid ReHousing. Thoughts?”

Um – WTF is wrong with your boss? That is like looking at a Toyota Camry and convincing yourself it is a Porshe.


“How many more jobs do you have to take away from Americans until you are satisfied?

This question came from a US-based TA provider. Well, we don’t look for work. It looks for us. Oh, and people with OrgCode are a combination of Americans and Canadians. Also, I was unaware that Americans had a stranglehold on all ideas related to ending homelessness.


“Can you settle an argument between my brother and I? I say you must have been in a rock band. He believes you were probably a jazz musician or pop musician masquerading as a rock guy.”

Seriously? Your organization turned away more than 1,000 people from services last year and the reason you email me is to settle an argument with your brother about my previous musicianship? Whatever. It was rock. Now get back to work.

About Iain De Jong

Leader. Edutainer. Coach. Consultant. Professor. Researcher. Blogger. Do-gooder. Potty mouth. Positive disruptor. Relentless advocate for social justice. Comedian. Dad. Minimalist. Recovering musician. Canadian citizen. International jetsetter. Living life in jeans and a t-shirt. Trying really hard to end homelessness in developed countries around the world, expand harm reduction practices, make housing happen, and reform the justice system. Driven by change, fuelled by passion. Winner of a shit ton of prestigious awards, none of which matter unless change happens in how we think about vulnerability, marginality, and inclusion.

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