Jan 21, 2013

Sacred Cows

Yesterday's post questioning the expanded mission of a popular local charity drew only one reaction from a indignant reader, I thought there would be more. Alfonso Todd, local activist, actually complimented the concept of applying diligence to our giving. About twenty years ago I formally opposed a Habitat For Humanity Project. Their plan for three new houses would have blocked the side window in a property I managed, denying my dwelling both light and air. Habitat's plan was endorsed by the City, The Redevelopment Authority and defended by the city solicitor. After the hearing, at which I prevailed, Habitats Regional Director came up to apologize to me. Seems they went with their standard straight wall plan to save time and money, even though everyone knew blocking a neighbors window was improper. He told me they were such a sacred cow that nobody had ever opposed them before. UPDATE: I reprint this post from May of 2008 to provide a reality check to the current controversy over the proposal by the Lehigh County Commissioners to eliminate an additional tax for Affordable Housing. Although the Habitat homes were to be helped built by the lucky recipients, they never in reality put in any sweat equity. The reality was one organized group after another lining up to work and feel good about themselves. One home was occupied by recent immigrants to Bethlehem, the other two by relatives of the first family, who also came directly from outside the area. A statement in today's Morning Call about the North Street Project costing more than the homes sell for is correct. Build a stronger poverty magnet, infuse it with guilt and few strong advocates,  let it simmer for twenty years, and you get Allentown.


Anonymous said...


A good friend of mine told me recently that the church he belongs to in the downtown is trying to come up with a way of providing charity without giving people things for free.
Sound cold? Actually it is quite the opposite. They have come to understand that those they are trying to help have developed a total dependence on handouts and have become wards of the state and local charities. By feeding this dependence one becomes a participant/enabler of generational poverty. This church wants no part in this and is seeking out more positive ways to assist the poor out of their situation.
The Rescue Mission has a model worth looking into, they build on faith, work, and abstinence from drugs and alcohol as the way out of dependence and poverty.

Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

scott, unfortunately, almost all attempts at such balanced giving are flawed, including the Rescue Mission. Their work program consists of sweeping sidewalks for the city of allentown; what sort of real world training is that? Although they cut their programs significantly, they still solicit funds full time; more donations for less programs. real self help, in my opinion, is entry level work from the classified ads.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with the statement that the Habitat people don't put in hours of work. Not many have skills needed to do the difficult building, but they do clean up and provide grunt work. Yes a few try to treat it as a gift, but they quite often get booted from the program. It's not like most government grants that are considered as entitlements.

As to the rescue mission cleaning jobs, I think part of the task is just to train them to show up on time and work to a routine. These people have a lot to learn before they are employable.

Dealing with the under achievers is hard. It's easy to say let them deal wth the problems themselves.

michael molovinsky said...

@10:52, work wise i'm only referring to one project, which involved three houses. regardless, i oppose the program; simply put it's an insult to everyone who worked for years to afford a down payment. you can buy a house for 20k, a small house in an alley. the cost of entry is $3,500.00 since you feel differently, donate and hammer away.

Anonymous said...

"Dealing with under achievers is hard"


Just wow.

How do you do put up with it all, Mr. Molovinsky?

Astonished minds want to know ...

michael molovinsky said...

@12:00, i don't characterize people from one or two statements, which may be out of context or incomplete thoughts. there are people who stalk the internet doing so, even planting such comments themselves. they have an agenda, and could really care less about any social issue.

Anonymous said...

I can appreciate where you are coming from.

I care not for He Who Shall Not Be Named Here.

But remain astonished at the "dealing with" statement.

I really am actually poor. I must be an "under achiever". Where is MY free house from the Gubmint?

Anonymous said...

I am going to ask again.Is it legal for a non profit organization to be awarded a government contract? were does Allentown's union stand on this?

Anonymous said...

Answer: yes of course it's legal if it meets the constraints of the RFP.