Monday, November 24, 2014

The Bee shows some spine: Decries the lack of effort to help the homeless in Sacto city and county.

The Editorial Board of the Sacramento Bee lambasted the homeless-help effort in the city and county of Sacramento in a long editorial on the back page of Sunday’s Forum section. The piece is titled “Leaders dither, homeless shiver.” It tells a tale of Sacramento being backward; having a homeless population that has stayed at about 2,500 for the last seven years while the nation, our state as a whole, and more-gungho counties in California have moved forward, briskly, to save homeless people from their weariness and misery living out on the streets and in shelters that fail to transform their lives.

I don’t know about all the dithering and foot-dragging by politicians and homeless-help industry leaders that the editorial cites as the causes for unaddressed misery in our city and county, but the piece makes its case convincingly that these “leaders” need to get up off their duffs and use resources that are already available and mimic the success at saving homeless people that has occurred in Turlock-Modesto-Stanislaus County and in the counties of Fresno and Merced.

The Bee piece is a resounding call for action. I stand impressed; dazzled even. WTG, Bee!

Here, a sampling of the piece’s scope and vigor:
… the development of a new strategic plan on homelessness should be fast-tracked. Both the available federal funding and the experience of other cities point to the wisdom of expanding “housing-first” programs with ample medical, mental health, employment and other services in Sacramento. Let’s get busy. In both human and financial terms, the numbers speak for themselves here, and we’re showing a real need for teamwork and urgency.
Near its end, the editorial criticizes the City of Sacramento for “[not] even hav[ing] a handle on who its homeless are yet.” THIS is a long-standing disgrace. Dale Kooyman who, years ago, was on the Midtown Businesses Homeless Board has been heroic is calling for the important measure of organizing an approach to delivering help by first getting a good grasp of who the city’s homeless folk are, individually. The city would be wise to listen further to Dale’s counsel on many homeless matters!

One thing I am tentative about is the editorial’s faith that Sacramento Steps Forward can lead the charge forward. Steps Forward has not been impressive, to-date. SSF Board Chairman Rick Cole’s stunt to raise money by gathering attention to himself and his church a month ago was a dishonest way to raise funds; it evidences a callous disrespect to donors, most of whom are too trusting and many of whom are downright gullible. The homeless-help industry in our town and county are not the moral saints they are often portrayed to be in the press and on local TV. Donors should not be treated as chumps; rather, they should be treated well and be giving complete, straightforward information about programs to which they might choose to make donations..

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