From the Homeless Corner: The Board of Supervisors Will Discuss Shelter Needs at Tuesday’s Meeting

Robert cox bob coxRobert Cox: I’m not just a squishy liberal. I’m an ex-marine, a retired educator with a Ph.D. in philosophy and literature, a senior activist with a nice little government stipend, which gives me the freedom to do the important work of a citizen. I have no agenda beyond a desire to reduce the suffering caused by homelessness. I believe we should spend more time on healing our communities, and less time on figuring out how to take them back. Law enforcement has its place, but it’s not the solution. Ask any cop.

Here’s an important update: On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors will be discussing the “need for adequate shelter resources in the County to serve the needs of individuals in the unincorporated areas of the County….” Issued under the signature of Supervisor Mile Wilson, dated December 21, 2017, and released late last week, the indication is that the Board is directing staff from “affected departments to report to the Board whether there is statistical documentation indicating that the volume of individuals is greater than the shelter resources currently available in the unincorporated areas of the County….”

Hopefully the Board will concede that there are many more homeless people in the unincorporated areas of Humboldt County and come to a decision about next steps. The memo from Mike Wilson suggests that in future the Board will be calling on County staff to make recommendations “based on the statistical data” in making a decision on declaring a shelter crisis. One has to wonder if this is just another evasion of directly addressing the issue; any cursory look at existing numbers or direct observation would quickly establish that there is a considerable gap between the number of homeless people and shelter for them in the unincorporated areas of the County.

For me the telling detail will be revealed in whether to follow the suggestion made in a recent petition delivered to the Board, which calls for “county-wide Task Force that includes representatives from all the stakeholder groups to develop services and land access to successfully relocate all homeless people into multiple legal sanctuary camps to tiny house villages … or other available areas UNTIL there are adequate and accessible and accessible beds or low income housing available for these persons.”

As I suggested in my last column, the Board has been given a second chance to work on homelessness solutions. In their first attempt, a study was commissioned, and a recommendation to adopt a “housing first” approach was adopted. But, evidentially, because the study team lacked local knowledge, the recommendation failed to address the fact that there isn’t sufficient affording housing available to even begin to meet the need. Fortunately, however, the shelter crisis declaration, if signed, presents the County with a second chance to get it right—to sit down with local people whose expertise and lived experience could open the door to finding solutions based on a shared intention of simply trusting in a democratic process aimed at promoting the general welfare. Moreover, it could turn out that we will all re-learn the important lesson about why democracy is superior to other forms of governance. After all democracy is about more than just voting. And outsourcing responsibility for addressing the homeless problem was essentially anti-democratic. But, fortunately it’s not too late to give democracy a chance.

California’s Department of Housing and Community Development and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development are looking at counties to see who’s supporting solutions for their communities. There’s a broad spectrum of potential support; many lenders and foundations want to add to and contribute to county supported efforts. County support, via this declaration, will be used in grant applications to federal, state, local public and private lenders. Staff interpretations of rules and regulations that might otherwise bar a project will be viewed under a different light. A declaration gives clear direction to all decision makers about what projects and programs to support.

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23 comments

  • Elric of Melniboné

    Thank you, Dr. Cox. Without a doubt, a crisis exists and needs to be declared.

    • No it doesn’t. Both that there is a housing crisis or declaring another easy societal “mea culpa” will change anything.

      What there is is a crisis of blame fatigue and wasted efforts due to refusing to address realities. Soothing words are not solutions.

      • Can you please address the realities I’m ignoring? What seems so obvious to you escapes me. I envy your powers of intuition. Nice tease, now give us the solution. No. No. We don’t need more modesty. We need answers.

        Why go to the trouble of commissioning a Task Force… just do your civic duty and let us have the answer.

        • I think a large part of the answer is there are some people you just cannot help. If they do not give a shit about themselves there’s nothing you can do to make their lives any better, they will just squander whatever you give them and end up right back in the same position they started. We have limited finances and limited resources, that money and resources need to be put towards people that will actually benefit from the help. Also, it’s like a kid that will not eat their vegetables, if you give them dessert anyways why would they eat their vegetables. The idea that giving people free housing, free food, free medical services and free spending money will somehow encourage them to change their work ethics just boggles my mind. Why would they work if they’re getting everything they need for free anyways. I mean just go around to the local homeless encampments and look at the way these people live. You really think if you give them a nice house to live in they’re going to change the way they take care of their stuff? And don’t give me that hoopla about a lack of jobs, everywhere I go I see Help Wanted signs. They might not be the best jobs but they’re still jobs. There’s also a lot of people around here looking for help working their properties. The bottom line is most of these people are so whacked out on drugs or don’t care about themselves enough to bathe and take care of themselves that no one is willing to hire them, also why work for a living when you can make more off the welfare system. What we need is mandatory drug testing for any kind of federal or state benefit and some kind of Public Service work program that you’re required to do in order to receive benefits. This of course is a generalization, there are specific circumstances like homeless veterans that should be put at the top of the list. working homeless families that would definitely benefit from help. But for my observations around Garberville, Redway, Eureka area is a good 80% of the homeless people are nothing more than lazy drug users that do not want to work for a living.

          • What address are the homeless to put on their job ap? Where are they to shower for their job interview? What if the bush they live under doesn’t have a clothing rack to hang slacks & tie? I respect your sympathy for homeless vets, but many others fall upon those same experienced hard times and crisis issues. I don’t expect your opinion to change, but please take a moment to consider; would you or somebody you know be without a home due to one catastrophic loss? And if it were a short series of losses? And if they cascaded into an avalanche? Young people don’t buy health insurance because they believe they don’t need it, but busses and cars hit people all the time. We are ALL only a short set of circumstances from being homeless ourselves. Compassion is better than anger, so I feel for you.

          • Rewarding those who work is the best fix of all. For years, all we’ve heard are complaints about how impossible it is to work for a living. Those who work can’t afford healthcare let alone health insurance, nor can they get food stamps or any other type of benefit. They benefit more when they don’t work. Sabotage of the worst kind.
            In the long run, helping those who help themselves helps those who cannot help themselves.

        • I’ve said many times. It simply is not as easy as offering a different life, which is what you seem to be saying. Everyday there are already lots of choices out there. Most will keep making the same choices that created their situation in the first place. And making themselves unwelcome.

          The first thing is to lobby for a change in involuntary commitment regulations. Allowing and funding for a longer hold and for treatment through steps of hospitalization, halfway houses to local follow up in individual cases before full release. Allow for a few who can not manage on their own ever.

          Something similar for drug addiction maybe but that is not so clear to me as it’s out of my experience.

          Don’t waste time on “declarations” thinking it’s a first step. That “first” step has been tried many times and ends up going nowhere because the underlying problems are not addressed. If you want to specialize in homeless youth, that is the one place where there is a chance of change that is somewhat fruitful. So do that. There’s room for it.

          As for the snarkiness, that was just as effective as declaring a housing crisis. Makes for self satisfaction but doesn’t change the reality one bit.

          • I applaud the assertion that there is a crisis, followed by the realization that there is no solution. This is about the way things usually go in Humboldt…

            It dosen’t take a PhD to go along with THC above: some people you just can’t reach! They are here because they are nurtured enough and then left alone to do drugs and live in shit!

            The solution to the local homeless “problem” is clear!

            Give them NOTHING! No housing, no camping area, no free food, no handouts, no medical care: NOTHING.

            Give the bums a ride in the back of a cop car WAY out past the city limits, give them a stern lecture about the consequences of coming back, and leave them there. With nothing.

            I sincerely don’t care if the “homeless” are upset. They all have 10,000 excuses for WHY they are the way they are, and, I am sick of hearing their drivel.

            NO COMPASSION – should be the new program! No handouts from bleeding hearts allowed! Just the bum’s rush: get the hell out of here, don’t come back!

            Thanks. No PhD necessary.

            • I do believe in caring for women with children, women escaping bad situations, and all children.

              • Most people do. That’s why the underground railroad began and never stopped. That’s why churches and other social places are important. That’s why benevolent societies were created. That’s why ALL of the above are being attacked by those who prefer government corruption.

    • Not Sht pie
      The government has been braking the backs of the people for a long time through racial inequality fear warmongering and corporate greed they sold our jobs. You can still buy into the nightmare too. You can be part of the lie. Standing on the broken backs of your brother. Ingrained in almost all human beings we are all family we might even remember playing together on the mountain not the color of are skin or how much money we have made paradise was not Lost it was stolen. So help each other out then we can live the dream.

      • I hope we can held those who can be helped. I checked the census site for Humboldt. We have a population of 136,646 and 62,650 housing units (as of 2016). That’s 2.18 person per housing unit. If we could increase the person/housing unit to 2.4% (the national average is 2.64) we could find housing for 13,714 people. How many people have extra rooms and if compensated and safe, could make room for a less fortunate person who is willing to be clean and drug free to come back from personal disaster? Perhaps we the people are the solution although I believe the government should help the people who can help others.

        • Ok. How do you make it safe to share a home with a meth head or heroin addict or schizophrenic? Or even the relatively sane criminally inclined?

        • Trillium Hummingbird

          Evan,

          Thanks for the information! I suggest we start a site for people wanting to “hook-up” with bums to live in their homes! We could call it “BumMatch.com” This could work!

          I myself will take 3 of your hottest “homeless babes” ASAP! What a great idea!

      • “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Nelson Mandela

    • Why did Jesus call a rich man a fool ?

  • “But, fortunately it’s not too late to give democracy a chance.” quote from an ex-marine.
    For one thing, there is no such thing as an ex marine.
    For another thing, and the most important thing of all, WE ARE NOT A DEMOCRACY!! WE ARE A CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC!!!
    The ONLY WAY to FIX what the MOB RULED DEMOCRACY broke, is to RESTORE our REPUBLIC and ROLL BACK the STIFLING regulations and permits that forced the citizens into the streets. ONLY PEOPLE can create jobs and homes for people. Government can ONLY create GOVERNMENT jobs and shelters.

  • Happy Martin Luther King day coming up I have a dream I’ve been to the mountain love you poor people’s peace March coming soon Monday after mother’s day

  • “Shut the fuck up” quote from a tired Marine. Some of you losers post entirely too often.

  • you’re not nearly as important as you think you are. Just entitled.

  • I say everyone commenting is right. We can all decide this truth or that truth and it is our RIGHT to do so. Can we think outside the box of right and/or wrong and come up with an idea that is not set in stone. Create something experimental maybe based on collaboration with the people we (those of us who have the answers) and the others(those who don’t obviously). Something that doesn’t assume the better than stance. I wonder what could happen if we gave “the other” some credit for intelligence. Meet on equal ground. What do you think could happen then?

  • I read all these comments, both pro and con, about providing jobs, housing food, medical, etc. for all the homeless in Humboldt county and surrounding areas. Almost all seem to assume that these people WANT to work, etc. Did it ever occur to them that these people have absolutely no desire to work. They prefer lollygagging around , smoking their joints, popping their pills and whatever. Should you give them money for food, etc., it will be spent at their nearest dealers. Give then a cab of dog food for their obviously staring dog and you will find it in the bushes nearby. They have fried their brains so bad that I once had one tell me, when I was pregnant, that the sex of my child would be determine by me, and only me and that would occur in the few moments before birth. I can promise that I was only thinking of getting it over with – boy or girl.
    Stop pitting these people. Most, by far, are doing exactly what they want to do, not what you think they should do. These are not your run-of-the-mill people. These are the ones should, if you ask them, will tell you they are doing just what they want. After all, we are (supposed) to be living in a free country.

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