Gaming the Neediest
This will come as no surprise to anyone who has worked with the at-risk for more than ten minutes: a scant few days later, the homeless man given the boots by the NYC cop is walking barefoot once again. He says he hid them, but he probably sold them.
Our social services have conditioned such results. They all ask for short-term volunteers and short term money to provide short-term solutions. It should be obvious that anyone walking around NYC barefoot and blistered in the fall needs to be institutionalized. But what we will do for him instead is pay administrators to provide him band-aids, occasional meals and personal items--and only if he gets really, really, really bad, then we will consider, if he thereupon wins a cruel and unlikely affordable housing lottery, putting him in a space that costs perchance $326K a unit to build--the price tag on one such project in Los Angeles.
The homeless man is right about one thing. He is right to point to pieces of the pie not coming his way. In this case, the media got theirs, the homeless agency got theirs, the volunteer in this case got theirs, and all he got was some boots to trade in for whatever he really wanted.