Joseph O'Brien 6 p.m., Nov. 26
- Community Blog
Homeless in San Diego
Unfortunately my health prevented me from picketing at The Ivy Hotel on Sunday. I am aiming for this upcoming weekend.
I've been doing research on the issue of Homelessness vs. Homeless. Right now in the US, there are many class action lawsuits being filed on behalf of homeless persons. Even fancy Laguna is on the receiving end of such a claim. That suit alleges harrassment for the purpose of driving the homeless out of that City. Most of these lawsuits are settled by the municipalities. No one wants a legacy of being "against" the homeless.
This is a HUGE problem affecting mostly inner city areas, and especially prevalent in California. I spoke to 3 ladies the other day, all in mid twenties, all living on the sidewalks of San Diego. They refused to tell me how/why they were in such a position. One said it wasn't so bad because she can work on her tan all day, every day. These women were from Florida, Georgia & Missouri. As for pan-handling, the 3 agreed it was their right to do so because the people they ask have more than they do. The one from Georgia actually said she would probably go home in the fall. She said she would find a way to do so.
In my completely unscientific, random, limited area, discussions, I have found that the recent (last 6 months) influx of homeless are young (under 30), addicted to cigarettes (no other apparent substance abuse), seem to want to live on the street as a life experience, treat pan-handling as a right, and appear to be healthy. When I ask about the local residents, they look befuddled as if they have no clue that their life style is directly intruding on the lives of others.
The intrusion into my life is what brought this issue to the forefront for me. Yes, I knew that San Diego was a magnet for the homeless because of the weather. But, I had never been accosted, been yelled at about money, been afraid of walking on E St., until recently. I have friends who vow never to return due to an incident with some homeless persons. I have a friend who cannot explain the sheer numbers of homeless to her visiting parents. It is a difficult situation as there are as many reasons for being homeless as there are homeless.
There are many ill, physically or mentally, not getting medical care (I am listening to a lady with a severe cough who has been hacking for a few weeks now). Some who are recently or chronically unemployed. Some who are alcoholics, drug addicts, substance abusers. So, there is no single solution.
Our City has told us over & over again that they have a long term plan. But, 3 years into that plan and the situation is only getting worse. I am not even sure that the City owes a duty to the homeless. There are many who tell me that they won't go to St. Vincent DePaul, or other organizations because of the rules. Then their particular situation becomes a choice. And then I think of the adage; "Beggars can't be choosers". I guess that has changed.