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A History of Turning Compassion Into Action

A letter in the April 25 edition (“Multiple Reasons to Reject Homeless Housing Project”) argues against permanent supportive housing by comparing Laguna to nearby cities.  The letter delineates the size of the neighboring cities (Irvine, Newport Beach, Huntington Brach, Dana Point, and San Clemente) and the number of units they have provided.  The writer asks how appropriate it is for Laguna Beach to build the proposed housing.

I would suggest that the writer has overlooked a significant point. Laguna Beach has always been different from its neighboring cities.  We have always had more compassion.

In the 1960s when the “flower children” flooded San Francisco and the Southern California beach cities, Laguna established a free clinic to address the medical needs of these kids. That clinic continued and morphed into the highly respected Community Clinic that still provides medical services for people in need.

When there was a problem with job-seekers congregating on the north side of town, the city worked with Cross Cultural Council to establish a hiring center complete with toilet facilities and supervisors. That hiring center still exists today so that people needing work can safely come and those of us who need workers can hire them.  We all benefit.

In 2005 when the hillside in Bluebird Canyon slid and many lost their homes and roads were destroyed, we Lagunans voted to tax ourselves to raise money to help the rebuilding process.

We have always not only been more compassionate than most cities, but we have been willing to put that compassion into practice. Today we have fragile citizens who desperately need housing and services. We have a chance, working with the time-tested Friendship Shelter, to provide that housing at no cost to the city. Let’s not lose that chance. Let’s not lose our heritage.

Bonnie Hano, Laguna Beach

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