Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

By Donna Westfall – July 26, 2018 – Homelessness is neither new nor inevitable. We’ve always had homeless in our society.  There’s been a cycle that began in the 1980’s while the previous period was during the great depression.

Current figures put the growing population of homeless in Del Norte County at over 500, of which about 200 are children.  I think the overall figures are low. The newest segment of homeless are now seniors.

It doesn’t happen overnight.  Usually there’s couch surfing, living in one’s car, or finding abandoned buildings. You can see them around WalMart and at traffic signals. Because so many of our people live paycheck to paycheck, it doesn’t take much of an emergency such as illness or accident, divorce or addiction to suddenly put them out on the street.

Have other communities found solutions?  Yes, they have. Mostly by having the community come together; law enforcement, churches, hospitals, mental health and more.

Housing first.  If people have housing, then their life can become more stable.  In one Canadian community, social workers are employed by the libraries so they were more accessible to the homeless. As we’ve seen, government is not the solution to our local homeless problems but it can assist in solving the problem. With poverty a staple of our community, it’s no wonder we have so many homeless. But, if we can create housing for our homeless, stabilize them, work on their addictions and mental health problems, we can look forward to the day when they are, once again, productive members of society.

During the month of August, True North Organizing Network will be making a 15 minute presentation to the City Council and then the Board of Supervisors.  Their goal, bring awareness to the issue so that these boards will make it a priority. Then, there’s a greater chance that the public and private sectors can work together to solve this growing problem.






7 thoughts on “Are there solutions to homelessness in our County?”
  1. I don’t have any solutions for the homeless problem but I can tell you it does not help to have places like Walmart actively advertise themselves as a free campsite:!145631&query=sitedetails

    The freecampsites website seems innocent at first until you realize it is a social networking site transients use to find places to stay. It is why the Walmart lot is getting so bad. Helping homeless already in our community is one thing, but inviting more to come here is something else!

    1. We are led to believe that Walmart intended it to be a stopover for nice folks in nice RVs to spend the night while traveling, get up the next morning, shop, then be on their way. Walmart might as well advertise free bicycles, because so many are stolen there every day and night. Unaware tourists are victimized at Walmart and while staying in local motels — read the Sheriff’s online call log.

      I see many more campers that usual and assume that many have come over here to escape the wildfires. I have personally observed known criminals looking in vehicle windows while cruising the parking lot on their stolen bicycles, complained to management, and gave the name of said perpetrator — nothing changes and the scum bag is not given a trespass warning.

      Those who continually push the limits of the law should never be given housing first unless that housing is behind bars. Others who are just down on their luck should be given a hand up.

  2. Donna is right, Housing first, then rap services around the person with a roof over their head. This is not directed at Donna, just the words of an old poet and food for thought about “glass houses”:

    Once upon a time you dressed so fine;
    threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?
    People call say ‘beware doll, you’re bound to fall;
    you thought they were all kidding you.
    You used to laugh about,
    everybody that was hanging out.
    Now you don’t talk so loud.
    Now you don’t seem so proud,
    about having to be scrounging your next meal.

    Ahh you’ve gone to the finest schools, alright Miss Lonely.
    But you know you only used to get juiced in it.
    Nobody’s ever taught you how to live out on the street,
    And now you’re gonna have to get used to it.
    You say you never compromise,
    with the mystery tramp, but now you realize,
    he’s not selling any alibis,
    as you stare into the vacuum of his eyes,
    and say do you want to make a deal?

    Ahh princess on a steeple, and all the pretty people,
    they’re all drinking, thinking that they’ve got it made.
    Exchanging all precious gifts,
    but you better take your diamond ring, you better pawn it babe.
    You used to be so amused,
    at Napoleon in rags and the language that he used.
    Go to him he calls you, you can’t refuse.
    When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.
    You’re invisible now, you’ve got no secrets to conceal.

    How does it feel, ah how does it feel?
    To be on your own, with no direction home,
    like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone.

    * Bob Dylan

  3. The answer to solving Homelessness in Del Norte doesn’t necessary come down to spending more money.
    What it takes is a community-wide effort to come up with innovative solutions, partnerships and spending money wisely.
    It also takes a willingness to put aside our preconceived notions, judgements and ideologies in order to make room for new possibilities. Sometimes that’s the biggest hurdle to addressing what seem to be unsolvable problems.

  4. During the last city council meeting the director of housing and authority stated she had received grant money to help 10 homeless families. 10 vouchers to help women or men with children to get them into a home, off the street, so the children could remain with the parents instead of getting farmed out through foster care program

  5. They are our family up here They are nothing to you because you have no family up here. They have hope, too. Old meth and even heroin addicts, even alcoholics get clean, in fact it happens more when they reach a bottom and make the decision to climb back out. And having help when they are ready is needed. Guess you have no experience (yet) with addiction.

  6. This human trajedy of systemic homelessness will NOT be fixed with more $$ thrown at it. Homeless are made up of FOUR separate groups: Drug-addicted; Alcohol-addicted; Mentally ill; and the smallest group, folks who have fallen through the cracks of life. The first THREE groups do not have the capacity ot ability to make clear choice decisions. Nothing will change until services are MANDATED, not voluntary. That is the message. Though I suspect the well-intentioned folks at True North will not accept the fact that drug- addicted, alcohol-addicted or mentally ill have no free choice or will and are prisoners of their vices. This horrible ptoblem will only worsen.

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