Joe Gervais: We need critical thinking in addressing Vermont’s homelessness crisis

This commentary is by Joe Gervais, of Arlington. He is the Republican candidate for the Vermont House of Representatives in the Bennington-4 district.

Recently I was criticized by one of my opponents with the misguided statement that my desire to bring education back to basics was a move to bring it back to the 19th century. Back to basics means an ability for students to read, write, and have a mastery of basic mathematics, like counting change at a cash register. Back to basics means being able to exercise critical thinking and problem solving. This ability to do critical thinking and problem solving is lacking with the current administration’s approach to homelessness and many other problems plaguing the state and the nation.

Joe Gervais

A recent article in the Epoch Times (‘Misguided’ Government Policies Worsen US Homelessness Crisis) could have been ghost-written by me. It hits many of the same points I’ve been articulating in my campaign: primarily that we need to get to the root cause for homelessness — the mental health issues and addiction issues — and solve those first (rather than the failed “housing first” or housing-only approaches tried by the Democrat administrations). Currently Vermont has exhausted COVID money allocated for homeless housing just as we approach winter; yet because of the housing-only approach to the problem without accountability from the homeless, many, if not most, are still dependent on the enabling the government has been perpetuating. As the former spouse of someone who succumbed to addiction, I was taught never to remove their dignity by doing for them something they could do for themselves.

My dad lives in California. While driving freeways in the Central Valley this past spring, I saw the shoulders lined with homeless encampments. Is this what we want in Vermont? My opponents in this race are lauding the $300 million of our hard-earned tax money they are spending on housing. In the past six years, the housing-first policy has spent an average of $160,000 per homeless Vermont resident, yet we still have the crisis today.

Addressing symptoms without addressing the root cause does not solve the problem. The California Policy Lab Study cited in the Epoch Times article noted that out of 65,000 participants, 51% self-identified as addiction contributing to their homelessness and 50% self-identified mental health issues leading to their loss of housing. Bruce Chapman, founder and head of the Discovery Institute, compared the situation to the dismal social conditions depicted in Charles Dickens’ novels.

“It’s Dickensian; it goes back to the kind of things you saw in the 18th and 19th centuries”

As legislators, we are entrusted by the public to be good stewards of the public funds. Misguided spending is contributing to the inflation every American is experiencing. Vermonters are not happy about the $600-a-month tax that inflation has added to our budgets. I vow to drive and support practical legislation that truly solves problems rather than just looking pretty in a newsletter.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/The Accent

7 thoughts on “Joe Gervais: We need critical thinking in addressing Vermont’s homelessness crisis

  1. For one thing, ‘The Homeless’ is a huge money making industry.
    In a lot of cases many people could be lumped into the Human Trafficking category.
    How about this candidate dig down that rabbit hole and come up with a plan to solve that- or at the least fully understand the entire spectrum of the issue.

    Next, why is no one ever talking about the amounts of people that are *choosing to live this way* ???

    I have family members today that are fairly well off, highly educated and yet they have become so utterly disgusted at the losing scam that this entire Ponzi Scheme that our economy now is- filled with nothing but endlessly printed Fiat money..that they have quit. They want no part of it all.
    They are removing their consent by leaving this system.
    Yeah, as a matter of fact they have decided to own nothing and be happy.

    They sold expensive homes, cashed out and now follow the weather and live full time in RVs- and are happy as heck wishing they freed themselves from being nothing but government mules decades ago.

    Not everyone can afford that nice RV but the same sentiment is there and do this as they can.
    I’ve talked to many “Homeless people” that are Happy and chose to live this way.

    So what does this all say?
    I think someone better look into these numbers and get to the bottom of *what is really going on* with all these people.
    I bet it’s not what everyone thinks.

    I’ll also add this: How many of those people are even Vermonters?
    I know that our local shelter here in NH was at one time filled with people from Mass. and Vermont (which then shot the local property taxes through the roof as they were forced to fund so many programs for them).
    A lot of these people are going to go where they can get the most- and that is the bottom line.
    So perhaps these numbers are not really what they appear to be, it’s a complex situation being not fully understood and then over simplified.

  2. Critical thinking??!! How dare you! Being from Bennington County, you are likely aware how things really work in this State. Create more task forces, councils, and committees. Give non-profiteers copious amounts of taxpayer money to not fix the problem. Add another billion to next year’s budget to address the same problems that existed two decades ago. Until the corruption is addressed and prosecuted, every non-profit audited down to the nickel, State agencies cleansed of all incompetent bobble-heads, there is no hope for these crises to be fixed – ever.

    • You guys have it bad down your way……they aren’t the only ones who know how to work the system. And they all think they are so smart for getting all this free money. We’ve got it bad here in Mad river valley too, it’s all over Vermont.

  3. We still have a crisis because we are spending 4x+ the average wage on VERMONT on Homeless!

    You don’t think they talk and network? They certainly have cell phones. They are coming from all over the nation to get the $160k benefits!

    See it’s all about luxury slope side condos and $550k studio apartment remodels for affordable aka subsidized hosing (the biggest scam in VERMONT!)

    Meanwhile you working stiffs can pony up some more tax money because we have more grant money to give away for pocket parks and bike trails. No house for you!

    We have way too many people feeding off the propaganda salad bar and drinking way too much koolaid. Just say no to the Marxist propaganda, they’re all dirt bags anyway.

  4. The current generation of leaders lack critical thinking skills because they were taught to only regurgitate what their instructors and professors taught them in order to pass their classes and get their degrees. They were never encouraged or allowed to think for themselves and question anything that was put before them. The next generation will probably even worse given the condition of American education today.

  5. Homelessness like climate change the dem/progs always put the carriage before the horse. Their solution, lets throw some money out there to get these people off the street instead of solving the problems that’s causing them to be on the street in the first place. They do the same with their climate change cult. Instead of waiting for the technology that can actually replace some of the fossil fuels they charge right in with their money to subsidize their green energy that isn’t green at all and causes as much or more damage than it solves. This is why the taxpayers never see a solution to any problems but they see plenty of wasted tax money to keep the environmental groups wealthy for more donations. They operated like a circular firing squad always shooting at the wrong target. This is what the voters vote for, promises and feel good phrases that result in more promises and feel good phrases. And nothing gets solved. Keeping people dependent is the road map to big government and higher taxes.

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