The vast majority of the long term homeless in the US are people who for one reason or another refuse to accept either government assistance or private charity. The can not be helped, because they don't want to be helped.
I'm sorry, but I've got to call you on this one. I simply don't believe that's true. There's a lot of 'temporarily homeless', people with good jobs who lose their homes (foreclosures) or who are evicted, and then there are the mentally ill, who are what most of us imagine when we consider the homeless living in public parks. But aren't those incapable of working who we should most be helping, rather than hanging over millions to those already making billions?
The schizophrenic population, though highly visible, is an incredibly small percentage of the total population, and those unwilling to take their medication on a regular basis are even smaller than that. So I find it difficult to believe that "the vast majority of the long term homeless" refuse government assistance. If anything, we need better laws allowing us to treat those mentally ill so they can become productive citizens, rather than laws protecting their ability to make bad personal decisions based on their declining mental health.
Actually, Ernest's point about state control is spot on. The failure with the U.S. war on poverty is that, being state based, it restricts the poor to their current impoverished conditions. During the Great Depression, and the multitude of smaller depressions before that, the poor would flee areas they couldn't get jobs, seeking out large metropolitan areas like California and New York, where they generally succeeded, improving their, their families and the states' economies. By requiring all SS benefits to be awarded by the state, we've set up a permanent class of the poor. If we made benefits federal, the chronically underemployed could pick up and move to wherever was currently hiring, allowing for the free flow of goods and services.
Historically, the poor and needy were looked after by the other members of their local community. If a man was able to work and refused to the community would look after the dependants while ostracising the man.
I also bed to differ with this. It's not like everything was rosy for the poor in the Middle Ages, or even in the 1800s, with the churches taking care of everyone. Instead, the churches minister to certain select groups, often ignoring anyone unlike them (either different religious groups, or people of different ethnic backgrounds), or they provide benefits to expressly keep them out of THEIR neighborhoods! It was because of the failures of the private welfare system that we (the U.S.) devised the public welfare system. If it worked so ideally, there'd have been no need.
I'm not saying it's a perfect system, far from it, but rather than blaming the victims, we should try to fix the problem. The problem with Social Security isn't that it's an unsupportable system, it's that the State and Federal Governments have systematically stolen money from it to cover their unwillingness to pay their own bills via taxation. That's happened every single year since it's inception, and now that it's time to pay the piper for this wholesale theft of the public's services, we (mostly conservative groups) are blaming the poor for not being independently wealthy, or for not having decent jobs to provide for themselves.