“Too many moralists begin with a dislike of reality.” ― Clarence Day Jr.
ACLU Chief Counsel Peter J. Eliasberg’s commentary in the Daily Pilot of July 30, 2017, rebukes Laguna Beach for not treating “their homeless residents as they do the rest of their constituents.”
As the former national project director and chief executive officer of HandsAcrossAmerica, I did develop a humble knowledge of this very complicated issue. As you may remember, this was the first major event designed to create awareness of the issues of hunger and homelessness in America. I was also fortunate to chair VisionLaguna 2030.
The homeless population is about one-third people with drug and alcohol problems, one-third with some type of psychological and emotional issues and the rest who appear to choose this lifestyle.
If you ask the wrong question, you get the wrong answer. The designation “homeless” may not be the accurate description and probably answers the wrong problem. Homelessness is a result, not a cause.
There is no doubt that these folks need help and support. But where and how becomes the issue. But, misdirected compassion does not help anyone.
Laguna Beach, as well as most any other city, does not have the resources to solve this problem on their own.
There are a few questions that need to be considered:
- Who do you want to serve and how many?
- Want services do you want to provide? Mental health, drug and alcohol intervention with detox and rehabilitation, job counseling.
- Who will provide the specialized services?
- Where do you want to house and provide these services?
- Who pays for it?
This is clearly a problem beyond lack of housing. Rebuking Laguna Beach is short-sighted as well as lacking a realistic and pragmatic approach to a very complicated problem. It might be helpful for the ACLU j to join other organizations in developing an effective approach to this.
This is an opportunity for Laguna Beach to push for the development a countywide response.
Fred Droz, Laguna Beach