Measure H on the March 7 ballot will not solve the homeless problem. But it could ease the progression of a daunting social ill that is financially and morally overwhelming every community in our country.
Generally, I see homelessness stemming from those who are mentally ill, use drugs, or just fall off the edge of the financial cliff. The latter, though, is rapidly growing, and there is no group in our society more susceptible than elder seniors, children and veterans.
Let me first make the case that those who have donned a uniform to defend our nation cannot be allowed to be homeless.
Also, children are innocent victims and must be protected, and elder seniors of The Greatest Generation should not be on the streets exposed to the elements. Not recognizing this is a moral disgrace.
Secondly, the battle against homelessness starts far before Measure H. Good parenting, education, equal and fair opportunity, hard work and maintaining focus are key ingredients in prevention.
Part of acquired monies of Measure H can be used to build housing. Having a roof over one’s head, a bathroom with running water and toilet, and kitchen to cook and store food is essential.
But other social services including mental health, rehabilitation, retooling and educating and directed employment opportunities are a part of the Measure H package.
I am a bleeding heart fiscal conservative and want oversight and accountability of how this tax money is spent, and our legislators in the city, county and state must reassure us with their utmost attention.
But we cannot withhold a vote on this with the belief a better measure will be written with more exacting detail. Let’s move forward against this rapidly escalating problem while holding their feet to the fire!
Our City Council has a Homeless Ad Hoc Committee. Let’s make sure resident shareholders from Bridge to Home, Domestic Violence, SCV Senior Center, Child & Family Center, and health-care professionals are members and can position this community into obtaining our fair share of distributed Measure H funds.
The homeless are human beings and most are in a situation they never would have foreseen. Many are not lazy nor unwilling to work and can assimilate back into society as contributors moving us forward.
There may be “diamonds in the rough” – like Bruno Mars, Steve Jobs, Halle Berry, Suze Orman, Charlie Chaplin, and Kelly Clarkson – who were once homeless.
Measure H is not a cure, but it is a first step to moral responsibility our society should embrace.
Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D. is a Saugus resident.