Letter: Saying the homeless should be pushed out it short sighted and cruel
To the editor,
There must be balance. Three recent letters (all published) seek to do no good other than denigrating the homeless community. They are filled with arbitrary judgements, handed out by those with an axe to grind and no solutions to offer. The issue of homelessness in this area IS a significant one, and wholly the responsibility of our local residents and government officials. I never thought I’d need to write a letter appealing for basic human decency, and yet here we are. Saying that the homeless need to be pushed out of the city is not only short sighted but needlessly cruel. It’s clear that the writers of the 3 published opinion pieces see the homeless as sub-human, not deserving of things like a safe place to sleep, access to medical care, food, or any of the services that we, the “good people of Paso Robles” take for granted.
I work in homeless Veteran services for a local non-profit, and I’d like to throw down the gauntlet. Next time I’m doing outreach, I invite those of you who think “they should be rounded up” to come with me and have the courage to actually speak to some of these people. The single mother, victim of Military Sexual Trauma whose life fell apart after being discharged from the military and who cannot see a female MST counselor in the county because the Dept. of Veterans Affairs can’t pay a reasonable rate to keep staffing here. The Vietnam era Veteran with untreated schizophrenia living in the riverbed. The young family who can’t afford housing here while working 3 jobs and raising their 8 month old baby out of their car. We in this area are fortunate enough to have reasonable access to services, and a fairly stable economic base. Try to imagine if either of those disappeared from your life. Can’t work due to a late onset illness? Sorry, go somewhere else. Lost your medical insurance? Nope, not welcome here. The lack of basic human decency for another human being (and those homeless folks “draped around the park” are human, I’ve checked) is appalling. I get that you might not want to see them while you’re out wine tasting…but at the end of the day, they are an issue for ALL of us. How about you take a good long look at yourself and decide if you’re the kind of person who gives a damn, or the kind of person that screams NIMBY.
So, those of you who like to blow the dog whistle of getting rid of the homeless, riddle me this: Where exactly would you like them to go? How would that trip be funded? Are there services there to work on homeless prevention like mental health, education and employment, housing, and disability services? Once they ARE in this magical place known as “Not here,” what are we supposed to do with the next homeless people who will fill that void? The logical fallacy of thinking that “They’ll be someone else’s problem” only goes so far as finding a community with limitless resources…which I guess is better than not having to look at someone who, on the day you see them, may be having the literal worst day of their life, right?
I know there are good people in this area, because I see the work you do at ECHO, 40 Prado, and 5CHC. I know there are kind people in this area. I know there are those who go above and beyond for the cause of being a caring human being. I respect and thank you all. I just wish that more of those people wrote in, to let the rest of us know that the hatred and vitriol are not the sole voice of this county.