Tom Kellar: Time for elected officials to take ownership of the homeless problem |

Tom Kellar: Time for elected officials to take ownership of the homeless problem

It’s been interesting to hear some of the fallout from the Marbut presentation at Center for the Arts.

As someone who has been in the trenches full-time the last three years trying to help house homeless folk, I will tell you that just as important as deciding between a Housing-First model, 24/7 Crisis-Shelter model, or hybrid version of both is the issue of cost.

There is no way any solution works long term without a significant increase in up-front funding. The good news is that it has been widely reported in states such as Utah and cities like New York, that the total public cost of housing the homeless population can actually be significantly cheaper than having folks living out on the street requiring things like police and emergency medical attention due to not having shelter.

The reality is that a very large percentage of homeless people suffer mental health and substance addiction issues and these are problems that must be addressed both before and after housing. The case-management component is huge; this is on top of the obvious expense associated with erecting structures that can house people.

I say all this as a way of getting local voters who think our homeless problem must be addressed in a comprehensive way, to seriously consider demanding that the County Board of Supervisors and both Grass Valley and Nevada City city councils begin taking ownership of the homeless problem, not just from a rhetorical perspective, but from an economic place as well.

If they are unable or unwilling to do so, we need to let them know we will vote in candidates willing to tackle the problems described here. I’m convinced that meaningful change begins with our elected leaders.

Tom Kellar is a Nevada City resident who works for Hospitality House as a Rapid Rehousing case manager.

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