Happy Father’s Day SLO

Posted: June 17, 2007 in Bureauacracy, Homelessness, Money

Today is Father’s Day.

Out here on the streets of San Luis Obispo there are quite a number of fathers. They come in all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and ages. Some are no longer married. Some are in common law relationships. Some became fathers shortly after they and their partners became homeless.

The one thing that all of these fathers have in common is that they are someone’s parent.  

Some of them are struggling with minimum wage jobs, trying to save up enough money so that they can somehow get their families out of homelessness. Some are just seeking jobs.

In the time I’ve been homeless, I have seen a few couple who have been fortunate enough to finally escape from homeless and have a place to raise their children in reasonable safety. But, at the same time, there are still many families, not only in SLO but throughout the country, who must rely on homeless support service agencies of one type or another.

This makes it important that these organizations continue to be funded, not only at the Federal, State and Local government levels, but by the communities they serve.

I’ll admit that I’m not all that keen on homeless support service agencies. I find them lacking in the types of services that they do provide. But the fault isn’t theirs alone.

Lack of adequate funding makes it virtually impossible for these agencies to attract the kinds of people who have both the compassion and qualifications for working with those people who have been afflicted by homelessness. Lack of funding also limits the types of services that they can provide to the homeless.

Moreover, since homelessness is indeed a serious social issue, it is an issue that many people are not willing to address with their eyes open.

The misconceptions of what homelessness is about, its root causes and the demographics of who is homeless have continued to limit the amount of community support that these agencies receive. This is turn makes it difficult for these organizations from expanding the types of services they can provide.

And, without being able to expand their services to meet the needs of today’s homeless, the struggle to provide effective aid to combat homelessness in our communities is nil.

Most local governments, rather than increase funding to these organizations as a way of dealing with homelessness attempt to "clamp down" on the homeless. They do this by way of enacting and adopting local ordinances that make it more difficult for the homeless to exist within their communities. Yet, history has already proven that these ordinances do nothing to stem or reduce the numbers of homeless. Rather these new ordinances serve only to make it more difficult for the homeless to gain the foothold necessary to advance and become productive members of society once again. And, in the end, the number of homeless continues to steady increase.

Perhaps what local governments need to do is take time to listen to voice of the people who are affected by these ordinances, and then make an educated assessment of it will take to help those in our communities who are stricken with this social condition.

It’s always been my opinion that you reduce the numbers of homeless by helping them become non-homeless and not penalizing them for being homeless.

Maybe we’d make better headway at resolving homelessness in SLO if as a community; we were to remember that everyone who is homeless is someone’s child.


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