Homelessness in Paso Robles: The good, the bad & the ugly
–A message brought to you by the In Search Of Sanity Podcast–
By Clive Pinder, In Search Of Sanity Podcast Executive Producer and Co-Host
–I’m ashamed to say that most of what we thought we knew about the homeless issue in Paso and on the Central Coast was wrong. We have just launched our first podcast and chose to talk about this issue as one of the more pressing and challenging issues facing our community. We wanted to explore this question: Why, irrespective of our political persuasion, can one of the best-funded and highly taxed communities in our country not solve this problem?
You can listen to Podcast for FREE here:
You might be surprised to learn that most of the homeless are not ‘bums’ or mentally ill. In fact, in SLO County about 65% of our homeless population are neighbors and compatriots who have fallen on hard times, including Bearcats! That’s hardly surprising when about 70% of Americans don’t have $400 saved for an emergency.
It may also surprise you to know that the causes of homelessness are, in order of most prevalent: 1. Lack of affordable housing, 2. Unemployment, 3. Poverty, 4. Mental illness 5. Substance abuse.
In total there are about 1500 homeless in the County, which is up from 1200 last year. The good news is that is down 30% from about 2200 people in 2013.
The bad news is that despite the valiant and heart-warming efforts of organizations like Paso Cares and ECHO, the system is still not fit for purpose. Part of the problem according to everyone we spoke to is that there is a lack of political leadership on this issue, and while local government services are well intended, they are not innovative or efficient enough.
We interviewed a private sector social enterprise in Los Angeles called Haaven that is housing and supporting homeless people for less than $10,000 a year. Yet local government solutions can cost up to $700,000 a year!
Please do listen to the podcast. There are tears and laughter, ‘you can’t be serious moments’, harsh words, uplifting stories, and a happy ending.
One thing we are confident of is that the podcast will leave you thinking differently about our homelessness challenge.