Great job, Kelly. It’s a gutsy task you’ve undertaken and I applaud you for it. My observation is that the public has been desensitized to this problem — and it is a problem that won’t go away. In fact, to some, it is someone else’s problem and not theirs. I believe one reality is that some people fear they’re headed in that direction, as well. So to ignore it is another form of denial. Until, of course, it happens to them.
I live in Hillcrest in a senior building, roughly 500 square feet. Yes, I’m a retired senior and grateful for what little I have (while I have it). Most days, I try to take walks (University Avenue) just for exercise. So I see many homeless and, often times, the same ones. Many times, because some look so dirty, hungry, sleep-deprived, I (and my friends) hand them dollar bills for food since there are many fast-food places on University. Not often, just some times. And they are grateful for it.
I’ve lived here four years, and only twice have I seen belligerence between the homeless. So, for the most part, I’ve dispensed with the lingering fear I felt around them. Seniors are fragile people and what we observe is frightening. No one mentions it but it exists.
How is it that the city can build a library (which we don’t need) for hundreds of millions of dollars, for example, and ignore the cost of preserving lives? How is it that someone could be jailed for abusing animals, yet permit homelessness in this great tourist-city? It’s all about the money (or the lack of it). Philanthropists have no problem announcing their charitable donations as long as they’re honored for it. Don’t get me wrong: I just feel priorities need to be re-evaluated.
Acknowledging that our economy couldn’t be worse than it is right now, it’s tough for non-homeless people to come up with cash donations. But there has to be a safe haven for the downtrodden. Even the Bible instructs us to “care” for the less fortunate. Looking the other way can and should be construed as sinful.
I know you’re doing the best you can with what you have to work with. God bless you — I hope you make a big difference in those almost-lost homeless people.
Connie Lambert lives in Hillcrest.
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