renaissance

Building a Ladder Out of the Pit of Homelessness

Editor,

Every community has homeless. There will always be people who fall on hard times or are so ill they cannot take care of themselves. Harassing them or ticketing them in hopes that they will go away is not a solution.

None of us likes anyone defecating in the stream or on sidewalks. None of us likes littering or vandalism, or sleeping all over the sidewalks and benches.

But we cannot expect the homeless to stop this behavior when there are no programs that deal with the problems that made them homeless in the first place.

Friendship Shelter (as wonderful as it is) currently does not deal with the chronically homeless or mentally ill. They deal with the homeless that are employable.

The ASL (as wonderful as the volunteers are) has no programs that deal with the individual problems the chronically homeless face. The ASL offers one meal at night and a mat on the floor. By 8 a.m. everyone has to be out of there and the doors are locked all day. Where are these people supposed to go? If they come into town they are ticketed for loitering. If they stay out on the canyon road in the ASL parking lot, there are no bathrooms or porta potties. You try being mentally ill, have had all your belongings confiscated by the police, have no money, and nowhere to go to the bathroom. You will end up defecating in the stream too.

We need to open up the ASL during the day so people can at least use the restrooms and take a shower. We need to create some programs that begin to deal with the problems that have made each person homeless in the first place and we need to do it now! We cannot wait until someday after we build another building. Homelessness is like a giant pit where the bottom two rungs out of the pit are missing. We need to provide those rungs and when we do we can ask other communities to do the same.

Jessica deStefano, Laguna Beach

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