League Pushes Homeless Back on the Agenda
The League of Women Voters will host a town meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20, to convene a discussion about the city’s progress pursuing a broad platform of recommendations adopted by the City Council early in 2008 to address those without a permanent address.
The meeting, which will be held at the Neighborhood Congregational Church, 340 St. Ann’s Drive, is part of the league’s ongoing effort to encourage a participating and informed electorate. Those attending can submit written questions.
The league sees a need to review the “alternative sleeping location” established for the homeless last November and has invited city representatives as well as those from the Friendship Shelter, the Laguna Resource Center, and country officials to participate in a panel discussion.
“Mostly it is to let the citizens know where the process is and to give the citizens an opportunity to speak about it and decide what should be done,” said Jean Ruan, a league member.
At the time of its inception, the ASL was given a three-year tenure, and the faith community and other civic groups, including Mission Hospital, has stepped in to provide meals, volunteers and funding to support the effort. Nov. 12 marks the facility’s one-year anniversary, leaving two years to find a permanent solution, a task force recommendation adopted by the council.
“Time is running out,” said Raun, pointing out that too often citizen-endorsed and council-adopted initiatives are not seen to fruition. “So often the decisions are made and they linger and nothing is done on them,” she said. “A town meeting like this reminds them.”
Questions to the panel will cover the present success of the ASL after a year; a review of work by the city-initiated task force and advisory committee and what recommendations were approved by the City Council; and what work is underway to follow those recommendations.
Residents are strongly encouraged to attend the meeting and make their voices heard.
Raun, a 25-year volunteer with the homeless, continues to work at the shelter one day a week. “We are not dealing just with homeless people; we are dealing with serious mental illness,” she said.
Raun is equally troubled by stories from those down on their luck, like the one a young woman told her. She was turned away from the full shelter during the rain and spent the night nursing a soft drink in Hennessey’s bar and at the bus shelter.
“These people are desperate,” Raun said. “They are fair things to talk about. We need to look at the whole thing and look at where our values are.”