This is in reference to the letter about the homeless situation from Mr. and Mrs. Klein that appeared in the Indy and the Coastline Pilot recently.
First of all, I would like to thank the Kleins for writing. At least it draws some attention to the matter. I also very much applaud the City Council and the staff of the Resource Center and the canyon shelter for their progress.
I have lived among the homeless in Laguna Beach, and in all honesty it was not a pleasant experience. This is why I am responding to the comment that the homeless “are now indistinguishable from the rest of us.”
My main concern is that letters like this one present a very un-realistic picture of the actual homeless situation (problem). Anyone can see what I mean by doing any of the following: spending time at the bus depot downtown; spending numerous evenings at the alternate sleeping location shelter in the canyon; reading the police blotter in the newspaper; talking to the OCTA bus drivers; talking to Laguna Beach police officers; talking to citizens who have to wait for buses downtown; talking to people who work “in the trenches” with the homeless; or really noticing them on the streets.
The Kleins said that originally they thought “not enough was being done.” That is correct, much remains to be done. Now, what can we do?
1. Many of the homeless will get nowhere unless they can be honest with themselves about their mental health issues.
2. Many need to be re-educated about what it is like to be living out in the “real world.”
3. Many of them need re-hab, so they may have clarity of mind before any help would be effective.
4. They very much need one-on-one, individualized help for their varying situations. (I know I did!)
5. And most importantly, they need to want to help themselves and lose their feelings of hopelessness.
Theses are the harsh realities which must be dealt with if we are to eradicate the homeless problem.
P.S. I truly think, because we have such a great head start, the homeless problem in Laguna Beach can be fixed. Then what we did can be used as a model for every other city in the world. It is going to take a lot of volunteers and man-hours. I am willing to donate as much of my time and energy as is needed. I hope you will too! I can be contacted through this newspaper. Thank You!
Michael Bruce-Stewart, Laguna Beach
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