By Donna Westfall – January 20, 2017 – HOMELESSNESS – Some think that ignoring the problem is the way to go. Some think that only drug and alcohol abusers are homeless. The facts of the matter are that at any time, any one of us could become homeless due to a whole range of circumstances.
With so many people living month to month with no reserves, what happens if your house. apartment or trailer burns down? You’ve lost your job? You can’t pay your rent. Your health or the health of a family member has driven you into bankruptcy? Trying to pay for the ever increasing rates on utilities to keep the house warm and food cooked is the last straw. The possessions have been sold. The savings have been depleted. The kids are acting out. The vehicle died.
Whatever the reason, is it reasonable that any human being should go homeless and hungry in our area? The answer is NO it is not reasonable. So, if it’s not reasonable, then why has nothing been done about it? Why do we not have one homeless shelter in our town? Why do we not have one workable program in our town?
Mike Justice, Executive Director of Our Daily Bread Ministries has been working with the homeless for the past 10 years. They have served dinners and breakfasts that by now number in the thousands. He’s tried getting his facility located on Harrold Street turned into a homeless shelter but one roadblock after another has been put up by this County. During cold, rainy weather, he takes in people for TV night so they’re out of the elements.
Some kind-hearted individuals pack up food and goody bags and drop them off to the homeless. It’s better than nothing, but it’s a drop in the bucket. Then there’s the occasional community meal served once a year at Thanksgiving. If only humans didn’t need to eat on a daily basis that would be fine.
The Lutheran Church gives out $40 worth of groceries once a month.
Yet there are homeless camps off Elk Valley Road, in Ft. Dick and Smith River. People sleep in their cars in the WalMart parking lot.
Even though there are programs that work in other areas of our State and Country, things like churches alternating each night by opening up their fellowship halls, providing showers, blankets and pillows along with dinner and breakfast; for some reason none of the churches in our area are willing to do that.
Let’s face it. There are some homeless people so far gone, that no one wants to take them in. Some of them smell, because they have no access to bathroom facilities and showers. Some of them are unruly and will lie and steal as a matter of survival. They won’t follow directions or rules and when faced with those individuals, only a Mother Theresa could love them and want to help them. They’re not ready to deal with their substance abuse issues.
But, with Veterans, single moms, and out-of-work dads part of the homeless population, something has got to be done!
“If you want an accurate count announce giving out a free tent and free sleeping bad and word will spread like wildfire among the homeless,” said Mike Justice. Further Mike believes there are more like 650 homeless with more adding to the ranks each week because he gets 2-3 calls a week of people losing their home or living situation.
What about if you open a homeless shelter or rescue mission then a lot of our locals think it will attract more homeless people into our area.
Mike’s answer to that is, “build a bare bones shelter – not a fancy one – just one that gets the people off the street at night. A section for women and children and a section for men. They would sleep in bunk beds. They get a shower, shave, breakfast, lunch and dinner, clean clothes and then they move on. if they stay for more than 2 nights they pay $5 a night. so they get two nights free. That’s not going to encourage more homeless people to our area.”
After 10 years. Mike was encouraged by the Friday meeting, January 20th, at the Veterans Hall where 26 people showed up and discussed the homeless situation and the fact that the county does not have the resources at the moment. But Mike came away encouraged because they were talking about issuing building permits ($1,700) and helping out with putting together organizations that could help out. Among those that attended were Supervisor 1st District, Roger Gitlin, Supervisor 5th District, Bob Berkowitz. City Councilman, Alex Fallman, who couldn’t attend the meeting due to training at the League of California Cities conference said, “I’m glad we have so many individuals and organizations finally working together on Crescent City’s homeless crisis. I’m honored to be at the table with so many dedicated and compassionate people.”