Ehud Gat: Lack of housing only part of the problem in Nevada County | TheUnion.com

Ehud Gat: Lack of housing only part of the problem in Nevada County

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Ehud Gat

They say insanity is to repeat the same action and expect different results. If that is true, then the discussion about solutions to the prevalence of homelessness in Nevada County has once again been sidetracked into the same old insane suggestion that simply throwing money at the problem is the solution.

The housing first and micro housing discussions suggest that all we need to do in order to solve our problem of an increasingly problematic homeless population is to give them all housing, basically at the taxpayers expense. While this sounds like a basic and linear solution, it ignores completely the fact that most people did not become homeless simply because they had no home.

There have been socioeconomic factors that will not be resolved simply because you put them in a micro house. In many of them there is mental illness, addiction, substance abuse and antisocial behavior patterns. All those will not disappear just because they have been re-homed. In fact, if we learn anything from the presence of Hospitality House in Grass Valley, it is that if you build it, they will come. That is to say the more services and freebies we offer, the larger the homeless population becomes and the more problematic it becomes. We attract the worst of the homeless from other communities, the ones that no longer have any hope of reintegrating into society in their hometowns, who have become such frequent flyers with their local law enforcement agencies and jails that there's no leniency left for them.

We do not get those people who have lost their homes, but are struggling and fighting to get back on their feet. By and large, those homeless do not tend to leave their hometowns but instead stay in a comfortable, familiar surroundings where they have the best chance to get out of the situation. It is necessary to stop deceiving ourselves and believing that homelessness is a problem in limbo that stems simply from people not having houses.

Without such stipulations it is virtually a guarantee that we are otherwise repeating the same actions and expecting different results.

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In the more prevalent and problematic cases in our society this is like believing that coughing gave the smoker lung cancer. The ever-growing population of homeless in western Nevada County is marked by a large percentage of people who are habitually antisocial, whose drug and alcohol abuse and mental illness not only stand in the way of them trying to better their own life but will pretty much guarantee the failure all of such programs that have no checks and balances, zero accountability and no kill switch to stop them if and when they become more a hindrance than a help.

Programs like housing first and micro housing must have strict stipulations including constant alcohol and drug abuse monitoring and a requirement that the participants/beneficiaries can prove residency in the county for the last five years or so, must abide by the law and must strive towards financial independence or they be immediately ejected from the program.

Without such stipulations it is virtually a guarantee that we are otherwise repeating the same actions and expecting different results.

Ehud Gat lives in Grass Valley.

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