Impressions of a Homeless Meeting
70 people gathered in the Garberville Vet’s Hall
to discuss homelessness in Southern Humboldt.
Words from the residents. Words from the homeless.
Some spoke of compassion. “The solution has to come from our hearts,” long time resident Cocoa said. “There’s humans in everyone of those bodies.”
Others spoke of the pervasiveness of the homeless problem. Kellie L. said this is “Not a big deal just here, but a big deal everywhere.”
“The homeless are not one people anymore than we [here she gestured at the diverse crowd] are one people.” Some act badly and most don’t. She argued that the worst offenders are often the speed addicts. Police must arrest the dealers and continue doing so until they are discouraged.
Several speakers including Julia Minton made the point that the transients come here like migrant workers. And like migrant workers they get stigmatized and lumped together so that the misdeeds of one become the misdeeds of them all.
The owner of Feather Rose, a new 2nd hand store in Redway, spoke about the “litter, graffiti and smoke coming into…” her shop. She explains how she tries to be respectful and then ended with what appeared to be a wide spread complaint, “It’s hard to try so hard to be respectful and not be treated respectfully.
Another woman, like many who spoke, talked of having “compassion for those in need” but also being “worried for the safety of her family.” She talked of being approached and feeling threatened by panhandlers, and of loose dogs that have come after her. She also described working hard to provide porta potties in Redway for sporting events, leaving them open so that those in need could use them, only to discover that someone had made a terrible mess in one. She voiced the concern of many when she said, “We who live here have to feel comfortable coming to town!”
Jim Truitt said that before a solution to the problem can be found we as a community have to agree that the transients are here to stay. “We are not going to get rid of the situation…Its not an eradication problem; its a management problem.”
John Jennings spoke for many in the audience when he talked about the feeling many SoHummers have that they don’t get much help from the County. “When I was unemployed, I didn’t have money to go up to the unemployment office…We need more services here.”
Roberta, from the Senior housing, said that the seniors are having a very hard time with the transients. “The police won’t do anything…There is a nightly parade behind the library…loose dogs and dogfights.” Seniors are afraid to come out.
One of the homeless young women spoke out about what a lovely place this is and how if they had a place with a bathroom, they could police themselves.
A young man who came here to save Richardson Grove fell in love with the place. He urged that there be a public bathroom mentioning that in a power outage many businesses are not open and public bathrooms are unavailable even to the paying public.
Patti Rose spoke of Betty Chin’s public shower and bathroom in Eureka and how 1 year after it was built it is still a success and even the skeptics have been won over.
Cocoa spoke again suggesting a Compassion Patrol that would help people and keep them from trashing our community’s values.
At the end of the night, some of the residents and some of the homeless left
and some of the residents and some of the homeless picked up chairs and swept the floor.