Opinion Piece By John Wood – February 1, 2023
As a life member of Crescent City VFW Post 1381 we once had a program continuing for several years to serve and feed homeless veterans by actually going out once or more a week into the city and county homeless camps with VFW funded food, as well as a volunteering medical doctor. We saw with our own eyes that the Point in Time Count was seriously skewed to give a false undercount.
Asking the homeless to come in and be counted, especially during the cold, rainy season is intentional and ludicrous. Most homeless do not want to be officially counted or even show their face in town. Furthermore, most don’t know about the count, many have warrants for their arrest. Others are too drunk and high to get out of their hiding places or stop drinking and drugging long enough to be bothered. They don’t care about the free sandwich offered to be counted. St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store on Parkway gives them FREE clothing, tents and tarps, cooking utensils, etc., and all they have to do is show up and ask.
Why would the state and local authorities want a deliberate undercount? Could it be that with the reputation of so many homeless in this state, and in this county, its true numbers have a negative effect on tourism, as well as on our way too woke California and local government officials? It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure that out.
We the VFW members who were engaged in that homeless veterans outreach for many, many years knew the real number of homeless were several times higher than was falsely reported. Why would this most recent count be any different? The Point in Time Count is an absolute joke.
If anyone really wants to see what and how many are out there, I will take you to our land off Elk Valley Road which is plagued with so many hardcore criminal camps that we can’t use or sell the property any longer. It was once a beautiful property with an apple orchard where my late father in law built a house in which he raised my wife and his other children. A tweaker got in that family home a few years ago and burned it to the ground. Rumors are that the illegally squatting tweaker was cooking meth. Law enforcement officers, who will remain anonymous, have said drug labs and the dealing of heroin and fentanyl is an ongoing problem in those homeless camps of which I speak in “The Swamp”. The homeless back there have said the same. For several years, our timber on said property and that area is, and has been systematically cut for firewood and burned in the homeless camps in “The Swamp”, as well as being sold for profit.
Representatives of the county codes department have always said it’s a sheriff’s department problem to solve. Deputies of the sheriff’s department have always said it’s a county codes problem to solve. Past Board of Supervisors members in that District 5 have never even shown the courtesy to reply to our complaints. I wonder if current District 5 Supervisor Dean Wilson will respond? After all, it was in existance during his terms as sheriff. The truth is they all appear to be afraid to go out there. Will they still be afraid to do something about it when the good ole’ boys buy that property for a commercial and new housing project to fill their greedy coffers?
When the druggies burned the house to the ground, it was our problem costing tens of thousands of dollars to clean it all up or face $500.00 a day in fines if not completed by a looming, specific deadline. The house was not a public eyesore. It was so far away from the road in the heavily wooded area with homeless camps surrounding it on all sides. Zero other houses were within view, and it was impossible to be seen from Elk Valley Road. No persons other than the homeless camps could see it. Why are camps allowed to remain while we were under the gun to execute a costly cleanup and inspection?
Nowadays it is even worse. There are homeless villages on and all around our land consisting of tents, lean-tos, small scrap wood cabins, vans, large buses and old RVs. Burned cars, trucks and large buses are everywhere. Why is that OK with the powers that be? This would never occur on Pebble Beach Drive or the other nice neighborhoods where the local good ole boys and girls live, or to properties they own in this city and county.
None of this passes the smell test. Sound familiar?