Boston Mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, an example to wealthy San Franciscans on reaching out to the Homeless

Allen Jones

I have been around long enough to know, there is fear and distrust amongst the homeless for anyone offering to help them. Too many have been victimized by a society suffering from, what’s in it for me syndrome.

One beautiful San Francisco sunny day, I was sitting in my truck in a McDonald’s parking lot sipping on a cup of coffee. A young man who looked no more than 20-years-old walked by looking as though he had not taken a bath in 21 years.

I watched the young man, with head glued to the ground in shame or hoping to find a million dollars on the sidewalk. Of course, with no means in which to help him, I began to think, what would I do if I had a million dollars to help the homeless? Answer: Copy mob boss, the late James “Whitey” Bulger… well sort of.

Former San Francisco mayor, the Honorable Willie L. Brown Jr. once said of this great city, that, “San Francisco is best place to be if you are homeless.” Of course, he was praising the services offered. He later conceded after leaving office that the homeless problem in the city was “Unsolvable.”

Former San Francisco Mayor Honorable Willie L. Brown, Jr.

Since Brown’s earliest statement of praise of services and the latter statement of unsolvable, San Francisco has cut its homeless population in half thanks to successors. The newest program, “The Navigation Center”, which first opened March of 2015 was designed to swoop up entire homeless encampments, with a promise of permanent housing.

Though it should be given a chance, the “ten days” to permanent housing is impossible to maintain. Nevertheless, any shelter/place with a cot for a bed, will be viewed by homeless as, out of sight out of mind, type care. This will not work; no matter how big and beautiful the flat screen TVs are on the wall.

The saddest story I personally heard a few years ago was from a young Black man, Cliff Spencer; his real name, who currently lives on the streets of San Francisco. Cliff was born across the bay in Oakland, CA and at age seven and playing with matches, he burned down the family home; killing two of his siblings. He was placed in foster care until the age of 18. A week after his 18th birthday he was released by the state of California to fend for himself.

For our government policies to be designed to cut a person lose to fend for him or herself with the thought of; even accidentally killing one’s siblings, still swimming around in his or her head is beyond heartless.

I’ve heard more than a few gays coming out stories that ended with their conservative parents saying, “GET OUT!” There are some who became homeless because they preferred drugs, alcohol or gambling as a priority over paying rent. Others just ran into bad luck. Also, you have way too many who suffer from varying degrees of mental illness, competing for the city’s craziest homeless person award.

Daniel Frederick a 24-year-old transient was shot by police near San Francisco International Airport a few years ago after his carjacking ended. He refused police orders to put down a backpack. Instead, he shouted, “Shoot me, shoot me!” Clearly he was crying for an end to his misery, which included homelessness.

The 2019 count on homeless living on the streets of San Francisco is over 8,000. Also, there are approximately 133,000 households of people with more than a million dollars in assets in the San Francisco Bay Area and 75 of them are billionaires living in the city. To a simple thinking man like me, this means that the problem of homelessness is solvable. And I am all too familiar with the fact that San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to live in the country.

Photo: Jim Wilson/New York Times

I applaud the generosity of Terrence McGrath to help the homeless by opening up his $4 million home to two formerly homeless. Realistically, too many rich people are too fearful to do what Mr. McGrath has done. But I am suggesting, without risking one’s own safety, there is a way to help the homeless one by one.

If a person with the financial means would only ask themselves, can I help reduce the homeless population in the city that I live in, beyond what my taxes already pay for and how?

First, begin your quest to help the homeless by asking God for guidance. Then find a willing accomplice to help you help someone; preferably who resembled yourself at the age of 18 or so. Make it clear that you are opening your heart to them but not your home. Then give the person 5, 20-dollar bills and assure the person of your desire to help them is sincere. You should also assure them that in no way shape or form would you use them; especially for sexual favors.

Homeless sleeping on a San Francisco street

Tell the person to meet you on the same street the following day, alone. Look for one noticeable difference. If the person so much as bought a pair of shoelaces with even one dollar of the hundred dollars, give them another hundred dollars and tell them the reason why; pointing to whatever change you noticed.

At the end of doing this for one week, you will know if that person you are helping is willing to help themselves or just wants to use you. Even if the first person you attempted to help did not help themselves, as a wealthy person you should know giving up was not how you obtained your wealth. In other words, do not let that stop you from trying to help someone else.

San Francisco homeless man demonstrates dignity with his clean area

The well-respected “60 Minutes report of the FBI capture of James “Whitey” Bulger; an infamous Boston mobster who allegedly killed more than 19 people offers proof of the fact, people with the means can help the homeless.

The FBI tracked down and captured Bulger living in Santa Monica and found $800,000.00 in cash in a wall in his apartment. He told the FBI some of the lengths he went to in order avoid capture.

According to one FBI agent, Bulger befriended a man simply because he thought the two looked alike and Bulger wanted to use the man’s identification. The former mob boss promised food, drink and to pay the man’s rent, if the man would simply let Bulger pay for him to get his ID; including renewals. It was said that the heartless Bulger, cried when this man that he used to hide his real identity and also befriended died after ten years into their agreement.

If a heartless and murderous mobster, with his own, what’s in it for me, motive can help keep a roof over the head of a drunk for ten years, what does that say about affluent San Franciscans?

With no ulterior motive, the affluent here should be ashamed of themselves for not so much as being willing to go sit in any one of San Francisco’s 240 parks and strike up a conversation with a homeless person.

Allen Jones

Written by

1983 to 1993 Bible Study teacher at SF juvenile hall. Currently prison reform activist and author of Case Game - Activating the Activist.

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