Through the years, I’ve met and spoken to many people involved in working with the homeless. One of the things I was surprised to learn in those conversations is that there is a large cohort of hard-core homeless people who, while not necessarily mentally ill, simply want to stay on the streets. So it’s not always as simple as giving someone a place to live and assistance in getting on their feet. (The more recent influx of those lost to the recent Depression of ’08 are much more likely to take whatever help they can get.)
One of the reasons so many cities have tried to prevent feeding the homeless is because it’s a basic tenet of social work: Don’t make it easier to stay on the streets. It’s one of the ways they try to get people into shelters.
So this story does not surprise me. It’s all too common.