Tue. Mar 5th, 2024

Opinion By Samuel Strait – February 17, 2023

Recently I attended the local Board of Supervisors meeting, Tuesday,
February 14th, and dutifully wrote a piece for the Crescent City Times giving my
impressions of said meeting.  As usual, there is often much more to say
about certain decisions made by the Board, likely as not the decision
was a poor one and will unfortunately accelerate the decline of the
quality of living here locally. This unfortunately is not a new
phenomena, as the past Board and even the most recent changes have made
little difference when it comes to poor decision making.  One might
chalk it up to the disaster that has afflicted the Board in the name of
its Chair, Darren Short, but that is only the most obvious of the
inevitable bad decisions made by the current Board.

During the February 14th meeting of the Board, Item #16 of the Scheduled
Items was a rather harmless sounding item described as:

  • 1)” Receive a presentation from Alison Ramsey and Kevin Malone;
  • 2) authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to submit an application and
    receive funding from the Encampment Resolution Funding Program;  and
  • 3) authorize the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services to
    sign any future documents for this grant, as requested by the Director
    of Health and Human Services.” 

This item was approved 4-1, Supervisor Borges opposed, after a relatively short presentation and discussion. 

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of what this means for the County,
let us look at the players involved.

Alison Ramsey is affiliated with True North, a group that has championed
the notion that housing is the key element for solving the problem for
better than a decade with little to no success. Kevin Malone came in the
form of Daphne Cortese-Lambert, who heads up Mission Possible, and is
currently housing the Homeless in a shelter on Hoover Street. 

Originally founded to be an emergency shelter that has gradually evolved
into partnership with County government.  Aside from Health and Human
Services, the other player in the cabal is the  Arcata Housing Project
also a ward of the state.

The fantasy is to create a Pallet Housing project in Del Norte County on
Williams Drive, site of the County’s Juvenile Hall, and eventually,
pending Coastal Commission approval, clean up a couple of places off Elk
Valley Road for, I am assuming some sort of low income permanent
housing.   The project of $7 to $8 million is planned to site 30
sleeping sheds and support facilities which will house 30 of the
County’s homeless population and create a central location for support
services which apparently DHHS is unable to accomplish a few blocks
away.  At some time in the future it is the intent of the County to
“clean up” two large homeless encampments off Waldo Street and
eventually produce permanent low cost housing for the homeless.  Not
sure where that is going to happen in this area which is bordering a
relatively family occupied large mobile home park as well as a great
deal of residential housing.

Now that you have the short version of the fantasy, it is the time when
we should regret this hasty decision in the name of chasing an illusive
grant.  As I have mention many times in the pages of the Crescent City Times,
homelessness is an age old problem that has been tackled without success
for centuries.  Government solutions are inevitably “one size fits all”
solutions.  Homelessness is born out of problems in an individual’s life
that seldom will be solved with “Cookie Cutter” solutions.  As
Supervisor Borges pointed out, this particular solution did not succeed
in Butte County and several others as well of which he was unaware of.
Homelessness will not be solved, especially by government, or affiliated
agencies.  The current homeless population is well over a thousand
people and this addresses 30.  Even if you include the other 40 housed
in Project Home Key, government will have spent $11 to $12 million to
temporarily house 70 individuals.   In case you are doing the math, that
is $157,000.00 and change per person, or $157,000,000 to house 1000
homeless individuals.

I can hear it being said already, “it’s only money, and think of all the
souls being saved”.   Prepare yourself for the flood. Since 2017 when
our illustrious Governor Newsom took office the percentage of the
nation’s homeless in California has surged from 25% to just over 30%. 
Thus far Newsom, has spent billion of dollars to house the homeless and
has reached the rarefied plateau of just over 5% of that original
population.  Efforts to control the number of homeless are in retrograde
and cannot even keep up with the new numbers joining the ranks.  At the
same time, those that were previously home owners and business owners in
the State reached an all time high of over 330,000 departures.  Housing
costs have inflated to the point that low income housing cannot even be
built without yet more massive funding by the state’s government.  
Since the problem began to encroach on the state’s elite in the
Sacramento comfort zone, the problem has gotten much worse as it has
here locally.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when the
government takes a hand in a societal problem, the problem only becomes
worse.  Our local government has been pandering to the homeless for
years and only has seen the problem increase in numbers to the point
that if anyone is looking it isn’t working.

There are too many individual problems surrounding each individual that
is homeless that will not be corrected unless the homeless individual
realizes they are the only solution to their problems.  Housing will not
solve that problem.  Support services will not solve their problems. 
They must be the arbiter of their own fate no matter how painful it
becomes, because believe it or not, housing is not a silver bullet to
success. and more than you will believe are quite satisfied with a life
style of being homeless particularly when the ameliorating solution to
the worst of homelessness  is a quick government hand out.

2 thoughts on “Homelessness”
  1. Well stated what happens when the gov caters to non taxpayers before taxpayers. If the BOS performed what other counties and states do by making more campgrounds with sanitation it would be much less of a problem. They’re called sanctioned encampments.

  2. Did the Del Norte County Board of Stupid-visors bother to mention exactly where on Elk Valley Road they would as you said, “eventually, pending Coastal Commission approval, clean up a couple of places off Elk Valley Road for, I am assuming some sort of low income permanent housing”? I ask you and other readers to refer to my February 1, 2023 story, ‘The Seddier Side Of Homelessness’ here on the highly informative Crescent City Times. Our otherwise beautiful property with a lush apple orchard is on Union Street, AKA ‘The Swamp’, which is directly on the other side of Elk Valley Road and the homeless camps on Waldo of which Mr. Strait writes in this story. On our property, a tweaker got in the house and burned it to the ground while cooking meth, according to an eye witness on the scene prior and during the fire. This grant will build permanent, government funded housing to serve as meth labs and drug houses at tax payer expense. They are selling said drugs back there too! Great Idea Board of Stupid-visors!

    Aha! This is why land speculators representing ‘It’s Just Land’ have been sending extremely laughable, low-ball offers for our land on Union Street back there in ‘The Swamp”. I’ll bet a hundred dollar bill to a stale doughnut the land speculators want to turn around and sell what they are offering less than $1,000 to buy this land from us, and then likely sell it for $500,000 plus in tax payer funded grant money in this rotten, prearranged, county and state sanctioned permanent homeless camp arranged in a good ole’ boy deal made possible by the Del Norte County Board of Stupid-visors. Can you say ‘corruption’ boys and girls?

    I have always said the reason county codes and law enforcement will do absolutely nothing about the crime, squatting and squalor on our land and the surrounding properties back there in ‘The Swamp’ so that land owners will become so desperate to sell out that we will take peanuts for land that the good ole’ boys will then sell for an extravagant profit where a very nice housing development will be installed. Only then will the brigand camps in the briars and brambles be cleared out and the area cleaned up.

    Now let’s think about the other good ole’ boys at this government funded hog-feeding trough for studying the project in engineering fees, permits, construction supplies, contractors, etc. — all in no-bid, prearranged contracts just like the Del Norte Ambulance service was voted to receive. Can you say ‘A wink and a nod’ girls and boys?

    My offer still stands for a guided tour of our property on Union Street in ‘The Swamp’. These drug addicted, scum-bag, so-called down on their luck homeless predators. These brazen brigands are financially thriving by roaming around drunk and high, day and night, burglarizing property from we the tax payers well enough to be abundantly awash in alcohol and hard drugs, while their camps are brimming with freshly stolen tools, bicycles, automobiles, building supplies, and even RVs.

    This explains why my District One Supervisor Darren Short, as well as District Five Supervisor Dean Wilson of ‘The Swamp’ completely ignore my e-mails and calls about the disgusting, crime ridden situation in district 5.

    Thank you Mr. Strait for this reporting this revealing insight. Please research deeper. I may be from Dixie, but I didn’t just fall of the turnip truck.

    Yeah, great idea Del Norte County Board of Stupid-visors — let’s build it and they will come.

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