Gene Uzawa Dorio: Take action for the homeless

By Signal Contributor

Last update: Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

As the middle class continues to shrink, the edge of the cliff for some is a fall into homelessness.

Gary Horton’s recent plea in his column “Public homelessness defiles us all” (The Signal Wednesday) concerning the escalation of homeless in the Santa Clarita Valley recognizes our need to find a “productive response to a very pressing problem.”

First and foremost, our Santa Clarita City Council must acknowledge having a shelter open for less than four months a year is only a Band-Aid. They must assist our local “Bridge to Home” to provide a year-round location for a homeless shelter.

There are many financial resources now available at the federal, state and county levels the city can obtain and utilize.

Secondly, the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) attitude of some Santa Clarita Valley residents must be reflective, as this is a social problem adversely affecting worthy friends and neighbors.

No one should feel he or she is financially secure, whether you own your business, are a professional in your field, work as a first responder through local government, or are salaried. Your job can be gone tomorrow.

What would you do to survive? Even more pressing if you have children.

Thirdly, focus on those who are already on the precipice like our fixed-income elder seniors. More and more of them are homeless. How do they survive?

Focusing on them first and those who are veterans – this must be obligatory.

Merely building shelter apartments will not be enough. Providing health care services, screening for mental disease, rehabilitating those with drug problems, and retooling through education may have impact.

Simply ignoring this problem will only allow it to fester. We can now “Crown thy good with brotherhood” and help those who are truly in need by acknowledging, recognizing, and finding solutions to our Santa Clarita Valley homeless problem.

 

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Gene Uzawa Dorio: Take action for the homeless

As the middle class continues to shrink, the edge of the cliff for some is a fall into homelessness.

Gary Horton’s recent plea in his column “Public homelessness defiles us all” (The Signal Wednesday) concerning the escalation of homeless in the Santa Clarita Valley recognizes our need to find a “productive response to a very pressing problem.”

First and foremost, our Santa Clarita City Council must acknowledge having a shelter open for less than four months a year is only a Band-Aid. They must assist our local “Bridge to Home” to provide a year-round location for a homeless shelter.

There are many financial resources now available at the federal, state and county levels the city can obtain and utilize.

Secondly, the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) attitude of some Santa Clarita Valley residents must be reflective, as this is a social problem adversely affecting worthy friends and neighbors.

No one should feel he or she is financially secure, whether you own your business, are a professional in your field, work as a first responder through local government, or are salaried. Your job can be gone tomorrow.

What would you do to survive? Even more pressing if you have children.

Thirdly, focus on those who are already on the precipice like our fixed-income elder seniors. More and more of them are homeless. How do they survive?

Focusing on them first and those who are veterans – this must be obligatory.

Merely building shelter apartments will not be enough. Providing health care services, screening for mental disease, rehabilitating those with drug problems, and retooling through education may have impact.

Simply ignoring this problem will only allow it to fester. We can now “Crown thy good with brotherhood” and help those who are truly in need by acknowledging, recognizing, and finding solutions to our Santa Clarita Valley homeless problem.

 

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Signal Contributor

Signal Contributor

  • Brian Baker

    Well, as this LTE is a restatement of Horton’s recent column, I’ll copy in here the comment I made there.

    There’s an underlying issue that I believe can’t be “solved” in a free society. A very large proportion (I’d guess a majority) of the homeless are suffering from mental illness and/or drug/alcohol addiction. We’re talking about people who refuse to take advantage of services and alternatives that actually are available to them.

    There used to be a time when such people could be involuntarily committed to some kind of institution that would provide shelter and treatment. Ultimately, such involuntary institutionalization was deemed to be an unconstitutional infringement on their autonomy, and I think there’s a strong case to be made for that determination.

    Obviously, this creates a conundrum: you can make services and facilities available to people, but you can’t force people to use them.

    The only way to try to do that is to use enforcement action. But loitering, for example, is an infraction, and infraction level violations don’t provide for any kind of detention. What then? Elevate such violations to the level of misdemeanors, which DO provide for detention? I don’t think that’s appropriate, either, and would be an abuse of the state’s regulatory power, as misdemeanors are state-level crimes. Further, it would take us right back to the state of affairs that was already deemed unconstitutional decades ago.

    Frankly, I can’t think of a single solution to address the problem that conforms to the nature of our society short of depriving these people of their constitutional rights. This may just be one of those problems society CAN’T “solve”, sadly.

  • Gene Dorio

    You are right Brian. Probably 1/2 of homeless have a mental illness or an addiction. Still, the other half have gone off the edge of the cliff, or just missed their opportunity (usually education). They are the ones who are redeemable, and that is where are focus should be directed.

    Let’s work on those who accept our help and wish to make an effort to get off the street. This would at least sheer the number downward, and maybe slow the escalation.

    Everyone deserves a “second chance” to rejoin society. Certainly, I won’t be naive everyone will want help. But for those who do, we must resolve to find a way to give them an opportunity.

    I propose the City, Bridge to Home, Senior Center, veteran groups, and church organizations come together to discuss ideas how to move forward. Outside models from other cities can be explored; governmental and private monies can be found to help out; legal aspects can be examined so as to not deprive anyone of their Constitutional rights; and catching those who just fell off the cliff may push them back before their fall overwhelms them.

    Any takers?

    Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.

    • Brian Baker

      Gene, I agree that those who can be helped should have some form of aid made available to them, particularly through private, charitable, or other local means.

      I’m certainly no expert on the issue, but my understanding is that there are three types of homeless: temporary, chronic, and professional.

      The professional group are people who aren’t really homeless, but are scammers, sitting there with their signs and begging, then commuting back home in their cars, or an Uber ride. A small proportion, and not really germane to the discussion other than just being included for thoroughness.

      The “temporary” homeless are those who, for some reason, have suffered financial hardship that’s put them on the street, but are otherwise fit to work and ultimately support themselves once they recover from their setbacks. These are the people most likely to participate in and benefit from some kind of support program.

      Then there are the chronic homeless, those with disorders — mental issues, drug or alcohol addiction, etc. — who won’t (or can’t) benefit from these programs, either because of an inability to do so, or through a matter of their own choice.

      I think we have to accept that, particularly in that last group, any such programs are going to have limited success at best, and in light of that there really aren’t any programs or policies we can count on the “solve” the homeless “problem” while preserving the rights of those afflicted as well as our society as a whole.

      It’s really very sad.

    • James de Bree

      Gene–I think what you are suggesting is similar to what TimBen Boydston was looking into. I think we need to move forward with some sort of approach to deal with the part of the problem that can be dealt with.

    • indy

      Other Facts About the Homeless Population in Los Angeles:

      •The average age is 40 – women tend to be younger.

      •33% to 50% are female. Men make up about 75% of the single population.

      •About 42% to 77% do not receive public benefits to which they are entitled.

      •20% to 43% are in families, typically headed by a single mother.

      •An estimated 20% are physically disabled.

      •41% of adults were employed within last year.

      •16% to 20% of adults are employed.

      •About 25% are mentally ill.

      •As children, 27% lived in foster care or group homes; 25% were physically or sexually abused

      •33%-66% of single individuals have substance abuse issues.

      •48% graduated from high school; 32% had a bachelor degree or higher (as compared to 45% and 25% for the population overall respectively).

      http://laalmanac.com/social/so14.htm

  • nohatejustdebate

    It should also be noted that downtown Los Angeles has at least five large and outstanding homeless shelters that provide more than just meals and beds. They offer long-term rehabilitation programs that includes housing, addiction programs, job training, health and dental clinics, programs for men and women, and even programs for entire families. They are the Union Rescue Mission, the Los Angeles Mission, Midnight Mission, Salvation Army, and the Fred Jordon Mission. They are set up to handle the needs of homeless people.

    Perhaps many of the homeless in the SCV just need a ride downtown.

    • tech

      Interesting from the “why reinvent the wheel when you can roll it” perspective, NHJD.

Signal Contributor

Signal Contributor