Dan Morain’s column last Sunday, “Jail dumps a prisoner, and a woman dies,” pointed out that many cities have failed to deal with those who are homeless and mentally ill, and that the consequences can lead to tragedy. A woman was shot and killed in San Francisco, allegedly by an undocumented immigrant after he was released from jail. We asked the question:
What should cities do to help the homeless, and do cities have a responsibility to care for the mentally ill?
LETTERS TOTHE EDITOR
Homeless issues should be addressed
There are as many reasons for the failure to solve homelessness as there are homeless individuals. Anyone who follows Sacramento City Council meetings has seen James Clark, aka “Faygo,” speak at many council meetings. He is involved in the Sacramento Dinner Project, which feeds homeless people in front of City Hall on Tuesday evenings. Several homeless people who come in from the dinner to speak to the council appear to be mentally ill. But Faygo seems to be defiantly homeless and has stated his belief that people have the right to live a homeless lifestyle.
There is no way to force a change in lifestyle. But one issue definitely needs to be addressed in Sacramento: the locking of city park restrooms much of the time. If the homeless have no access to sanitary facilities they must devise their own solutions. Portable facilities could be provided, as well.
Lorraine Gervais, Sacramento
Brittany Mangum – There are lots of programs for the homeless and mentally ill in San Francisco. I worked for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, so I’m aware what programs are available. The homeless, unfortunately, do not want to abide by the rules, so they are asked to leave. These are all sober-living homes/shelters. There are also plenty of places that assist in helping build a resume and job placement. It’s up to the individual to use these resources, but they generally don’t take initiative, which is also a factor why many are homeless.
Lori Neuburger Howell – You’re so correct. My brother is mentally ill and homeless, and leaves every shelter because he won’t follow rules, take his meds and says he’d rather live on the street. I’ve learned so much having a family member in this situation. It’s not what people think; it’s not an easy fix at all.
Brittany Mangum – My uncle was very close to being homeless, but he used the resources available and he’s slowly but surely getting back on his feet. He has been sober for two years, and he’s been living in his own apartment for a year or so. It’s so good to see people use the resources. I hope your brother will give it another shot so he can get his life back on track
Kathy Day – Sometimes it’s not that they won’t take advantage of the services, but rather they can’t. Especially in the case of people with serious mental illnesses.
Mary Rodriguez-Baird – This had nothing to do with whether or not he is mentally ill, but the fact is that had he not been released into the community, and had he been deported, this would not have happened. As long as cities like San Francisco harbor criminals, crimes like this cannot be prevented.
Johnnie Heard – Homelessness has become an enormous problem in every big city. More funds need to be appropriated to tackle this growing issue.