BARRY’S BLOG FRIDAY 12-6-13

The Cold snap is causing many homeless to suffer. Seems like this year is worse than recent Holiday periods, and the numbers support this. Sacramento County is reporting 2500 homeless with only 70 beds in a warm shelter, and 100-to 120 beds in warm churches. Non-profit agencies are passing out blankets, hats, gloves, clothing and tarp or tents to the hundreds who sleep under bridges and highways attempting to shelter them selves from the frigid and windy temperatures.

Sacramento is not the only reporting entity….Placer and El Dorado counties are reporting high numbers along with West Sacramento.

The homeless situation is getting worse mostly due to the advent of colder weather in the Northern sections of the USA, driving the population to the West and South seeking warmer weather, and generous communities who share their time and goods for them.

One major reason the problem is increasing locally is the shift this year with the Feds forcing the state to deal with an over-population of prisoners in state facilities. The state solution is to force the population of lower crime prisoners down on the counties. Also the state cut back locations and personnel in the parole system. This has shifted a lot of people to locations foreign to their normal home areas to places like Auburn and El Dorado Hills. They often have no money, family or support systems, and lack transportation so they become part of the homeless community in those towns that have parole offices. Auburn is one of those. The alternative is being arrested and back in jail for parole violation. A vicious cycle due the bureaucratic decisions that don’t analyze the impact of their decisions, or they don’t care.

So what’s the answer? Just providing shelter probably is not. Providing jobs is not necessarily the answer either. Jobs for most of these people would not pay enough for them to have decent shelter either. Some states and countries have created large communal communities where everyone works at jobs that serve the whole. They grow their own crops and food supply, serve each other with services and support. These communes are often religious backed and is the common theme. To get into these communities takes discipline and no drugs or alcohol. It also takes leadership that can manage such a village.

There is also some experimenting going on with what is called “Wet Centers”. These centers allow addicts on drugs and alcohol to get shelter while supporting their habit. This approach is interesting and certainly will come under political fire since they are tax supported.

Government building mental health and addiction centers would reduce the population by about 70% but this idea has been going the other way for the last 50 years. Addicts are counted in this group since they are considered mentally ill.

Frustrating isn’t it. There is no easy answer for this problem and pretty much falls to local kind hearted people that give of their time and money to help this area of our population. Our churches also play a role as does the independent funded agencies like Loaves and Fishes, The Gathering Inn, St. Vincent DePaul and the Salvation Army. All staffed by limited paid employees and mostly volunteers. Most if not all funding is donated by kind hearted local people.

God Bless all that give to those in need! Have a great day, be kind to yourself, and be happy!

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