Many Californians concerned with the homeless refer to the root causes of homelessness. I am all for doing so; but also we need to deal with the immediate problem with immediate approaches. It is neither compassionate nor fair to the rest of us that our city streets have become the home of so many. Let’s deal with that head-on.
- Create triage centers. One example is the proposed “Sunbreak Ranch,” see <sunbreakranch.com> proposed for San Diego.
- Create emergency housing. Humane use of motel space, single residency units, and cots in national guard armories, can be provided if regulatory obstacles to utilizing these facilities are removed. A good proportion of this housing should be away from the centers of cities and towns, to minimize individuals simply returning to where they were. Individuals should be allowed to stay in the housing during the day, and store belongings there (within reason).
- Take individuals who are living on the street to triage centers. The federal courts have upheld the constitutionality of doing so, provided there is an alternative location for the individuals to live.
- Treat parents with children differently at the triage center.
- Provide food at the emergency housing locations.
- Treat individuals with pets differently. Do not separate individuals from pets.
- Provide work for those in emergency housing. Cleaning up streets, scrubbing away graffiti, planting seedlings, are all honest work for which the individual should be paid. Minimum wage laws should be relaxed to allow for some compensation if the full hourly minimum is not affordable by the city or county.
- Individuals unwilling to work will be taken off the streets and sent to emergency housing again. This can happen any number of times.
These steps are to deal with what everyone has seen on the streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and many other cities and town in California. We can eliminate that situation now. Then, we can deal with the “root causes.”
Tom Campbell, Coto de Caza