For the most part homelessness is a long-term death sentence. It is death by detrimental health effects accumulated by continually being unsheltered, such as my friend Carl Feighner who lived in his truck for ten years and died a year ago last May here in Livermore. Suicide is another avenue, like earlier this year when young Jamie was found at the end of some cordage behind a convenience store in our community. Then there is homicide, an example of which occurred with the shooting of “Gordo” on Wednesday, August 7, hours before dawn on the Las Positas/I-580 corridor. Add drug overdoses and you have homeless deaths pretty much covered.
Crisis intervention services? Start counting the homeless deaths. What do we expect the unsheltered desperate to do? Where do we expect the homeless to go? “Why is so much energy spent on a luxury hotel placement and so little on our homeless situation?” (“Misplaced Priorities,” Cindy Anderson, Livermore, The Independent Mailbox, 8/1/2019).
”For every person lifted out of homelessness, three people are going into homelessness. It’s going to take resources,” Mayor John Marchand said. “We’re starting small to find out what works, and then move ahead with programs.” (“Livermore Works to Curb Homelessness,” by Bruce Gach, The Independent, 8/8/2019) Is there a plan for where the majority of homeless are to go? What is the count and rate of the homeless “lifted out of homelessness”? That number would be interesting as compared to the 179 unsheltered by count (January 2019) in Livermore. (“County Homeless Rose 43% in 2 years,” Ron McNicoll, The Independent, 8/1/2019)
“It’s going to take resources.” (ibid., Gach). Duh. It is going to take resources all right. It is also going to take results. How many more need to die? How much suffering does there need to be?
One person in the audience of the July meeting of the Human Services Commission meeting in July? Do we even care?
The Human Services Commission addresses four areas: Housing/Homelessness (264 homeless by count in 2019); Elder Services (70 on waiting list for “Meals on Wheels”); nutrition (“Zero hunger” is the United Nations’ #2 Sustainable Development Goal after “No poverty”); and youth services (over $1.5 trillion in student debt in the United States with a 25% default rate). And yet there is no category by the commission for focus on the increasing illicit drug problem that so impacts our housed and homeless population?
There seems to be some disconnect on the homeless issue here in Livermore and what to do.
“And the question that begs to be answered is: if we build a bigger ‘central park’ downtown, aren’t we just encouraging a new spot for our homeless population?” (ibid., Anderson). Oh my, we are going to have more homeless no matter what with the pathway we are currently on.
Perhaps if the homeless just die out there it will not be a problem.