Greg Zaller: The Golden Rule applies right here
In response to Our View column, “Doing Nothing Will Only Increase the Risk,” we are all concerned about the risk of fire, but it should not be just that.
The Golden Rule applies here. How can we allow fellow human beings to wander our streets like ghosts and sleep in the forest without doing all we can to help them? Is that what we would want for ourselves if the situation was reversed? Some might claim that they don’t want help, yet this reflects that they are sick, and can get by on handouts.
Nonprofits are not doing the “heavy lifting” as this opinion states. At best they are a band aid. Hospitality House, for example, is an overnight shelter and, the last I heard, residents are discharged in the morning before breakfast, back to the street. Also, I privately operate homes that provide housing for the homeless, and I can tell you firsthand that most of the “Rapid ReHousing” clients we get fail due to lack of follow-up support. At this point, I believe that the combined response of this community to homelessness exacerbates it by not addressing the underlying problems.
Housing First, so often touted as a solution, is not a solution either because it lacks what must come second and third: comprehensive educational and mental health support. There are no simple solutions.
We needn’t re-event the wheel. COTS-homeless.org in nearby Petaluma has a program that is successfully targeting the “super-utilizers,” those putting the highest demands on their community. There will be a tour by local stakeholders of their program in mid-October. I will videotape it and post it online where I hope many will watch it and conclude that more can be done and should be done, and we can get started doing it.
Yes, the question for each of us to ask ourselves is “What have I done?” And this includes the editorial board as well. It is not enough to defer to our “leaders” as if they are someone else. It is also not enough to donate to our existing nonprofit efforts. Let’s imagine what our community could be like without the homelessness and drug addiction. Roll up sleeves and get busy doing something about it. Failure is not an option.
Greg Zaller lives in Nevada City.
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On a recent afternoon, I made a grocery run to the Raley’s in Grass Valley. I scored a decent parking spot, then navigated my way through the tangle of shoppers and carts and cars.