Is Homelessness Hopeless?
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by Frank Shortt
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Touching on the Homeless situation in California has become a huge discussion. Areas of Safety, Health and Sanitation have upset many of our residents.
First and foremost, let us remember that in any human situation there are rules and regulations that should be adhered to. If there are as many homeless out there who are having mental health issues, as we are led to believe from reading our newspapers, then how can we expect those individuals to follow any set of rules and regulations? They are almost to the stage of being involuntary in their thinking and depend wholly upon instinct for survival. This also holds true as they invent ways to gain the means of obtaining their particular sedative, and a bite to eat, if they still eat!
It has been established that homelessness is brought on by several problems that exist in our society. Some say it is a mental health issue. Some say it is brought on by drug and alcohol abuse, probably from an early age. Regardless of the cause, it is a present problem. Recent news articles have shown the homeless being kicked by irate individuals. Another man in Oakland became so irate, as he tried and tried to help one individual, that he took the man's belongings and threw them in Lake Merritt when he saw no improvement!
There are many mentioning the homeless problem, but few cures are offered:
One lady said, "This morning as I walked my dog I saw a man using one of the trash cans as a toilet. I felt compassion for the man as it looked as though he was struggling. The encampments erected by the homeless have created a critical health and safety issue. Not only is there a Health and Safety issue in the encampments, but also in the surrounding communities, as well as, the ecosystems (streams and creeks) and among the wildlife in the area of the encampments. Unsanitary conditions tend to draw rodents and insects that feed off the filth, giving these pests a perfect environment to propagate diseases." The world's most destructive pandemics were a result of poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation propagated by infected rats and mice.
Another statement suggested: "Throw those bums in suits (politicians) out by voting them out of cities, counties, and the state!" Radical! But when nothing else works, we should vote the old system out and vote for the locals that know the problem and have a solution to the problem without raising taxes to fix the problem that has happened year after year! To this was replied, "You are right, voting them out is part of the solution but only if the newly elected officials make homelessness a crisis, as it surely is! When the homeless use a garbage can for a toilet and have to wipe with a brown paper bag, it is totally ironic!" Do those in office have to do this? Maybe if they had to it would speed up a solution to the problem!
Another replied, "There has been over 500 million dollars allotted to handle the homeless problem, but I don't see much of an effect. Officials keep coming to tell us how that they are working on the problem, but there are little results! I would like to see a weekly report card of what the local government is doing to solve the problem. All we have received, so far, are piecemeal abridged reports, political statements which are confusing and conflicting!"
Another continued, "Those millions of dollars are being used to have study after study, not to find a solution to the housing problem! It has been said that the city is sending the homeless out to clean up where the large corporations are so that they will continue to look good as this draws business! Stop sending representatives to other countries on our dollar, to see how they are handling the homeless situation, just do something practical here to get the ones out on the streets clean and sober!" To which another replied, "We don't have anything to show for our money. The little homes idea is a bad idea just another failed attempt to waste money and look like something is being done. We have plenty of vacant buildings to house some of these people. Not in large populations but in groups of, maybe, under 20, where people are individuals not institutionalized numbers. These people need a small community that they can depend on and trust."
Last but not least, another replied, "Well, we voted as a start in June, now let's get out and vote in November!" But is voting one politician in and another out the solution? Someone needs to come up with a plan and follow through with that plan! At least we now know what it is that most of us fear, that our health and safety is threatened by allowing the homeless to run rampant over the city! It will be interesting to see who steps up to the plate in November to address this sensitive and crucial issue!
Large, cliff-dwelling type, encampments have been under freeways and expressways for several years. It will not be easy to entrench a problem that has existed for a long time.
Who is going to tell the homeless individual that he must leave or be forcibly removed?
Crisis? Yes! and getting worse!
Maybe we should all reread 'Grapes of Wrath' as a start. There were some good ideas in that story that could be used today concerning encampments! Ah, but that is just an old outdated story that should probably be combed with a fine-tooth comb for being non-politically correct. It would probably end up as banned from certain libraries, along with 'Little House on the Prairie'! Could you imagine that?
Speaking of little houses out on the Lone Prairie, now that is an idea!