California Forum

The Conversation

Dustin Rae, 27, of Sacramento, panhandles on the corner of Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard this month. About 2,500 people are homeless in Sacramento County.
Dustin Rae, 27, of Sacramento, panhandles on the corner of Howe Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard this month. About 2,500 people are homeless in Sacramento County. hamezcua@sacbee.com

The homeless in Sacramento evokes a visceral reaction in some, sympathy in others and generally a lack of understanding of the issue in most people. Last Sunday’s editorial, “Leaders dither, homeless shiver,” pointed out that Sacramento’s number of homeless has remained the same over the past seven years, while the homeless population in California is down 22 percent. The editorial pointed out: “It’s simply not enough to keep doing what Sacramento has tragically learned to do best – triage.” The editorial also stated that “the development of a new strategic plan on homelessness should be fast-tracked.”

We asked readers: “Why do you think Sacramento is so slow in implementing solutions for homelessness?”

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Homelessness a disgrace

Re “Leaders dither, homeless shiver” (Editorials, Nov. 23): This editorial was right on. Over the last few years, I have become increasingly embarrassed to live in Sacramento. From the debacle with the missing water meters that cost the city and all of us a great deal of money to the failure of the city to anticipate years of drought and help the residents to become water conservers, it has been painful to watch. However, nothing has been as distressing as the constant sight of homeless people all over Sacramento with nowhere to go and no obvious support from governmental agencies.

If the mayor was half as committed to solving homelessness as he is to hustling professional sports teams, Sacramento would be a gentler, kinder place.

Maureen Geiger, Sacramento

Homeless solution

When people have a problem, it is best to address it directly. In this case, people have been unable, for myriad reasons, to put a roof over their head. Studies in other cites have proven that when simple, basic, secure, permanent homes for the homeless are provided, the people respond in miraculous ways: They take their meds and often find work. Dignity restored, independence granted. This path is cheaper in the long run for cities because by providing a roof, the no-longer-homeless can do the rest. Come on, Sacramento.

Toni Jensen, Auburn

Why Sacramento dithers

Why is Sacramento standing still while other communities across California are making exceptional strides? Because we put building a world-class basketball arena in line before helping our homeless.

Christine A. Thomas, Sacramento


From Facebook

Lamont Johnson – Because problems with the homeless are complex. It’s not simply a matter of feeding, clothing and providing shelter. Many have severe mental problems, others have addiction issues. The bottom line: It costs a lot of money to fix. Doesn’t mean we should not try.

Nicola Simmersbach – Housing first. All other services are weakened unless people have safe, stable housing and regular meals.

Richard Savala Sr. – I work as a case manager for homeless mentally ill who suffer from addiction, and there is a huge program in Sacramento County for this population. But you have to know that a lot of these homeless people don’t want help because of rules and conditions of the housing property. We help a lot of people in Sacramento, and the ones who do fail, do so due to their own choices.

Laurie Lynn – Some people choose to live this lifestyle, though I don’t know why.

Darlene C. Matthews – Maybe one in 10,000 chooses that lifestyle, and even most of the substance abusers would rather be inside.

Lynne MacIntosh – A lot of the homeless are mentally ill, and many of the homeless are disabled veterans. Having worked in housing programs for most of my career and also suffering a mental illness, there is not near enough help and funding to meet the actual need. Not even close.

Pam Giarrizzo – As long as people are able to convince themselves that homelessness is caused by bad behavior or bad choices, they feel absolved of a responsibility to help. We need to get past the stereotypes and the myths about homelessness and look for meaningful ways to address this issue.

Stephen Blakeman – It’s not the government’s job to “solve” homelessness. Government needs to get out of the way to let people address individual cases as they are able.

Laurie Beth Ferns – The issue of homelessness shouldn’t be an emotional issue. It shouldn’t be about judging anyone. Some people need help and they should be helped because in the long run, helping them is the practical action to take. In the long run, helping the homeless benefits all of us.

Amanda Caine – The issue seems to be that Democratic politicians have been cowardly abandoning their stances on social issues to appease the Republican-voting minority of our democratically controlled state. Liberalism is not what it used to be. Too many people have stopped caring about the ones who need our help the most. Too many have embraced the “survivalist” mentality. Utah is doing a better job taking care of their homeless than California. We should be leading the way.

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