Saturday, April 24, 2010

Odds and Ends

Two things / matters of interest that impact Homeless World Sacramento that I think y'all should know about:

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Many retired Sacramentans volunteer to help out at Loaves & Fishes and Volunteers of America and elsewhere to provide survival and other services to aid the homeless population.  It is interesting to learn that such volunteering likely is very good for the well-being of those who volunteer.

A newsbrief in the March 2010 issue of the small publication titled Mind, Mood and Memory tells us this:
Volunteering to Help Others May Stave Off Frailty
Pitching in to help other people may be a good way to stay strong as you grow older.  Researchers analysed data collected between 1988 and 1991 on 1,000 healthy, physically active adults in their 70s.  Compared to 19% of adults who had a job and 25% who cared for children, the 28 percent who volunteered to help out in their communities experienced a lower risk of becoming frail, even after allowing for factors such as disablity, age, and cognitive function researchers reported in the online Dec 16, 2009, issue of Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences.
A Health News article from United Press International speaks of the same news from the same source material in the Journal of Gerontology, and adds this:  "A randomized trial is needed to determine whether volunteering itself prevents the onset of frailty, or if there is something about the types of people who volunteer regularly that keeps them from becoming frail."

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Robert Tobin, president and CEO of Cottage Housing Inc., which operates both Serna Village and Quinn Cottages, wrote an opinion piece for the Bee that was published Friday, titled "Viewpoint: Safe Ground plan is not the answer."

A big problem with the piece is that Tobin's organization is, well, basically, a competator with the "Safe Ground plan" that he refers to.

The Safe Ground plan is to construct structures, possibly modified Tuff Sheds, as residences to house 50 to 100 homeless people on an as‑yet‑to‑be ‑found/‑determined 2‑ to 5‑ acre parcel somewhere in Sacramento proximate to RT services.

Tobin lists four objections to this Safe Ground plan [although he alludes to others]:
• It has not been implemented quickly as any "emergency" shelter, by definition, must.
• It is unlikely even to eventually accommodate a large percentage of those who remain unsheltered, replicating an Oregon project that never expanded beyond a 50-unit prototype since relocated from downtown Portland to property near the airport.
• It would substantially lower housing code protections for those who need them most.
• It is proving divisive when our community must unite around real solutions to difficult problems.
At this point ALL inexpensive options should go forward.  Surely, the SafeGround plan could go forward quickly if a majority of the powers that be, and others — hopefully, including Tobin — would just get behind it.

It is true that the plan would not accommodate "a large percentage of those who remain unsheltered," but it would provide shelter to many.  A variety of shelters that provide 'a space to be' to many would provide shelter to "a large percentage of those who remain unsheltered!

The community would have a varience to housing codes and would not lower them, generally.  Besides, a community of garden sheds, as Tobin calls them, is likely better [more comfortable; safer] than roughing it in a bag or blanket out on the street on a wet, cold night.

The plan is not devisive if a majority of folks who decide such things recognize that all viable options must go forward!  The wolf is at the door.  Let us get all the beds out there we can!

I have many misgivings about a Tuff Shed community, all of which differ from Tobin's.  I worry about the devisiveness/chaos that can ensue when people are living in such close quarters.  I worry about tempers arising and fights occuring when alcohol and other substances can easily be brought into such a village.

A great many homeless adults have substance-abuse problems. And of those many, a significant number of homeless men get angry easily when they are high. The problems associated with abuse of substances will not go away if we ignore them or pretend we can easily control their use, somehow.

The SafeGround encampments that there have been — in Camp Pollock and on C Street, for example — have experienced significant problems relating to substance abuse.

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