I hope to part the veil on a situation that has surely been addressed before but still remains: Uncle Mike and his posse. Let me explain.
One Saturday evening I gathered my few spare dollar bills and began the trek to Deseret Industries. To my delight I identified a few priceless keepsakes and, feeling satisfied, I made my way through the couches towards the checkout line.
On one of the couches sat a man, clearly intoxicated. As I passed he grabbed my arm and asked me what treasures I had dug this time ‘round. I proceeded to get to know Uncle Mike and his friends, who were also intoxicated and who were rummaging through D.I.’s endless gems.
Through our discussion I came to find out about Mike’s tough upbringing and his subsequent misfortunes. Currently Mike and his crew live down by the river and keep their fishing poles and bikes hidden in the bushes.
Uncle Mike told me getting a job was nigh impossible because they were competing with the masses of bright, ambitious and clean youngsters. He confessed that their goal was simply to make life comfortable. Their excursions to D.I. and elsewhere were all part of a systematized routine they had established over time.
What money they came across or received by means of welfare was quickly used up to buy knick-knacks and alcohol, and that made sense to them. Uncle Mike, as the relative leader, had tried to cooperate with the city and authorities but felt unheard and unappreciated.
What opportunities could be given to these? Or, if they already exist, how can these homeless be made aware? I would suggest an open discussion with the city council involving these people and defining more what the social contract between Provo’s politic and these citizens is.