No Place to Sleep


No Place to Sleep

Ted Folkert

February 8, 2018

NIMBY strikes again. (You know, “not in my back yard”). Those with no place to sleep are going to have to relocate again as they have done again and again and again, and as whey will do forever, again and again and again. In California, as is the case in many parts of the country, affordable rent is a term from the past. This formula only works for those fortunate enough to earn a substantial income. The “good old days” when affordable rent was comfortable at about 20% of one’s income are gone forever. In California that formula doesn’t work for the renters or the property owners. If the property owners seek renters to fit that formula they may have extended vacancies. If renters seek properties which fit that formula they end up sleeping outdoors.

Many of those who are retired on Social Security, who have worked all their lives, cannot afford to pay the rent in this area and eat at the same time. And many of them lack the wherewithal to seek other housing areas which are more affordable.

Of course, sleeping outdoors requires being quite mobile. NIMBY prevails everywhere those who sleep outdoors choose to place their blankets. So, the police show up and the outdoor sleepers keep on the move.

There has existed a large encampment of outdoor sleepers along a river trail in the Anaheim, Costa Mesa area for some time. A place to which many have matriculated after being evicted from numerous places of encampment again and again and again. Now the NIMBYs have arisen again. Law enforcement is cracking down. A federal judge has provided some delay in the process, however, the NIMBYs always prevail. After all, who owns the elected officials in this country? It obviously isn’t the outdoor sleepers.

So, law enforcement moves in to follow the orders of their superiors to force these people to move on, as they have done again and again and again. Law enforcers issue citations, which is most cases is a waste of paper and ink. People with no place to sleep have no method of transportation to show up in court. If the do show up and receive a fine, they can’t pay it. Then they are a fugitive from justice. If they get a jail sentence they serve it and then return to the street again where they have been through this same process again and again and again.

So, has any ground been gained? Of course not. Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times talks about this all the time and has been a hands-on advocate for the homeless of this area. Unfortunately, the situation only continues to get worse as property owners respond to housing demand and continue to raise rents.

Once one becomes a victim of this way of survival the path to a homestead way of life becomes increasingly more remote. When one has no address or phone number, when one has no place to keep clean and presentable, and when one has no personal or employment references, employment is virtually impossible. That is where hopelessness prevails along with helplessness and despair – the big three.

We read about all the wonderful plans to build affordable housing for those with no place to sleep. We hear of big funding to help solve the problem. But nothing happens. They talk about solving this problem with their five-year and ten-year plans. What about today or tomorrow. Why not break ground and build some housing today or tomorrow and continue to do so for five years and then for ten years.

I imagine we could arouse hundreds of volunteers who would contribute time and money to help to provide for those who are helpless. There are those who either don’t understand the problem or don’t care about resolving it but there are also those who would lend a helping hand once our fearless leaders get done campaigning for reelection and decide to resolve this enormous issue.

All talk and no action. That seems to be the process in dealing with the problem. The money spent enforcing and adjudicating those violating law prohibiting such lifestyle, the money spent on cleaning up homeless encampments, the money spent on damages and repairs from those seeking warmth and shelter – all of the money spent on the negative side of this issue – would probably make some good headway toward resolving this crucial problem and providing some hope for the hopeless. Those who are experiencing this way of life due to PTSD from military duty, or from drug or alcohol addiction, or mental illness deserve professional help and a comfortable path to recover from their dilemma. And those who are simply in the downward spiral of joblessness or adversity deserve assistance in climbing out of the homeless entrapment and achieving a way of life with opportunity and livable housing.

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