A Better Location is Needed



David Peck’s letter (“Calling Home,” May 16) is intriguing. He recalled the uproar over the initial site proposed for Laguna’s now 25-year-old Friendship Shelter. “We found a potential site in the canyon, in the middle of a light industrial area, held a public meeting, and people came out of the woodwork to object: a homeless shelter will destroy the canyon! Traffic!  Crime!! Chaos!!! We kept looking.”  We all know they found a more suitable location.

Mr. Peck’s letter tells us that, we should just trust the Friendship Shelter people to know what’s best and disregard the past issues.

Every human being wishes and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. The Friendship Shelter people know this; I am a proud supporter. Their goal of permanent housing for the chronically homeless is commendable. But permanent housing is just one board in the framework of giving these less fortunate individuals back their pride, dignity and quality of life. They mostly need community.

I ask you to consider this: If the canyon was not a good location 25 years ago for 18 homeless adults with the potential of becoming productive members of the community, why would it be a good location for 40 chronically homeless adults with mental illnesses and disabilities which, sadly, more or less inhibit them from ever again becoming productive members of society?

The location of the Friendship Shelter on Coast Highway is in our community, supplied by frequent buses, near multiple services, the beach and restaurants, with well lit sidewalks, traffic signals and monitored crosswalks, all services that everyone deserves. There is human interaction.

The proposed permanent housing location in the canyon is two miles from any supportive services – out of our community. While it does have bus service, the closest services are three veterinarians. There are no restaurants, grocery stores, drug stores, sidewalks, or traffic signals. It’s a long walk to the beach.

Would you place your family member at this location? Would you place your family member on a dangerous highway, in a flood plain and a severe fire zone? Would you place your family member in the middle of nowhere?

Surely, if a better location could be found 25 years ago, one can be found today. Surely, the Friendship Shelter people could look further. After all, they did find a second shelter location (Henderson House) in San Clemente.

Louise Thornton, Laguna Beach

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