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This commentary originally appeared as a comment on “Sizing Up Our Homelessness Quest.”
Kelly, interesting article. Thank you for your hard, hard work, but what I don’t see are efforts to preventing it happening in the first place. I’ve worked on and off with some homeless folk over the past 15 years through our church.
1. The homeless issue is a political football in San Diego. I will be blunt and point out that for some of our politicians, it’s about (only) appearing compassionate. Simply throwing money at the problem can’t make it go away. That the city (and most importantly from a taxpayer-funded point of view) bureaucracy will be involved in hands-on management and care of the homeless is scary, considering, in general, the record of government efficiency. The city should be shameless about supporting the nonprofits and the churches that help the homeless, because they do it in a much leaner fashion than the city ever can. Unfortunately, it’s doubtful that will fly, since some groups will whine about the city working with religious organizations. Too bad, much too bad. So keeping the city out of it is not likely to happen.
2. Mental health: Hospitals need to be re-opened, and legal obstacles to getting people into them should be reduced. Unfortunately, this is unlikely. Some years back U-T San Diego published an article that pointed out that the cost would likely be even for care for the mentally-ill homeless on the street versus hospitals.
3. Families: Families need to be supported, and two-parent families need to be emphasized. The research is in on this already. Unfortunately, it’s been politicized far too much, so I don’t see the press or the government pushing hard on this except unless it expects to be branded in a nasty, nasty fashion. Single-parent families already trouble a group with challenges. Behavior of both kids and adults needs to improve in this regard to be much, much more responsible.
4. Substance abuse: Until it becomes less approved of in society, I don’t see this problem improving. The U.S. drug problem funds the cartels, and wrecks our society and destabilizes our southern neighbors. Media does not help much at all (news organizations and entertainment). This includes both alcohol and drugs.
5. Availability of resources will only attract more homeless. We know that’s true.
6. Government needs to support businesses on all levels. Reducing taxations, especially on businesses, will stop the exodus of businesses from California. Businesses provide jobs, jobs provide taxes and keep people off the streets by having jobs. This means government at all levels: city, state, federal. Courts have to help, too, except that’s more complicated.
In the mind-set that is currently popular in California, I don’t see any of this happening. I’d say too bad, but it’s actually bordering on catastrophic. The question is, when will we see it, realize it?
Best regards, and good luck with your future efforts.
Bob Seegmiller lives in Hillcrest.