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  1. TopTop #1
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Homelessness and panhandling in Sebastopol and beyond

    It's becoming apparent that there is growing presence of homelessness and panhandling in Sebastopol. I'm sure many of you have seen the family asking for money at several downtown intersections along with an increased presence in plaza. Additionally there have been reports of people sleeping in the post office and urinating in public. Downtown merchants feel that it is driving away business.

    One could argue that it is a result of national problems and policies including the economy, public services, mental health services, and the like. But now it's a very local problem and it seems like it is becoming "worse".

    Have you noticed this? How do you feel about it? What do you think should be done (if anything)? Do you have any experience where this problem has been successfully addressed?

    If public safety is not a concern, then is it a problem at all?

    What organization would be best to take the lead? The City? County? Faith-Based? Police? Community Organizations? A Town Hall meeting?

    There's a fair amount of information about homelessness and what can be done about it on the web (search for homelessness). What seems appropriate for Sebastopol?

    I know Police Chief Weaver is very aware of the problem, along with various legal constraints regarding what actions the police can take. Once we develop some thoughts and questions about this, I'll ask him if he'll speak about this problem.

    One of our members (Sahedran) has been working with the homeless to provide some level of community services to them. Does providing more services just attract more homeless people?

    What is to be done???
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  3. TopTop #2
    natalie's Avatar
    natalie
     

    Re: Homelessness and panhandling in Sebastopol and beyond

    The only people whose safety is at risk are the homeless people. They are poor people, not axe murderers. Police offer no solution for homelessness. I suggest advocating for services including a homeless shelter.
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  5. TopTop #3
    natalie's Avatar
    natalie
     

    Re: Homelessness and panhandling in Sebastopol and beyond

    One more small thing

    We should treat those less fortunate than ourselves the way we would want to be treated if we were in their situation. After all, how far are any of us from that very situation. Give the family a few bucks at a minimum so at least they can eat.
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  7. TopTop #4
    Gene's Avatar
    Gene
     

    Re: Homelessness and panhandling in Sebastopol and beyond

    In Bolinas there has been a public bathroom and shower that is open 24/7. There is also a freebox nearby where people can leave clothing, blankets and whatever. If someone is really misbehaving someone will usually tell them and repeat offenders are told they are no longer welcome. Faith-based seem to do a good job and should be commended but their resources seem quite limited. Catholic Charities has a huge shelter and has a lot to due with the food pantries at the churches. Working in partnership with the police and the community I believe a few small things can make a big difference. A local job center with internet access, a safe place to camp and cook, a shower and bathroom, that's not much, unless your homeless, and I think it's the least civilized society can do.
    Last edited by Gene; 06-20-2011 at 11:50 PM. Reason: spelling
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  9. TopTop #5
    Dianala's Avatar
    Dianala
     

    Re: Homelessness and panhandling in Sebastopol and beyond

    Quote Gene wrote: View Post
    In Bolinas there has been a public bathroom and shower that is open 24/7. There is also a freebox nearby where people can leave clothing, blankets and whatever. If someone is really misbehaving someone will usually tell them and repeat offenders are told they are no longer welcome. Faith-based seem to do a good job and should be commended but their resources seem quite limited. Catholic Charities has a huge shelter and has a lot to due with the food pantries at the churches. Working in partnership with the police and the community I believe a few small things can make a big difference. A local job center with internet access, a safe place to camp and cook, a shower and bathroom, that's not much, unless your homeless, and I think it's the least civilized society can do.
    As many of us know, West County only has a winter shelter in Guerneville. Funding for homeless and transitional programs are way down right now. Even existing non-profit programs are in jeapordy and we know there are limited resources as it is. It is definitely getting more desperate out there. Faith based organizations can step up, individuals can step up in any way you can, and we can do a community brain storm session if someone wants to provide space.

    I bought sandwiches the other day and gave those out to the panhandlers around Whole Foods. Two sandwiches for $6.00 is a good deal and they were much appreciated. And, I like what Bolinas has done in terms of providing a free box and public bathrooms. And what about WCCS providing the job center, maybe they already do?

    We are an affluent community, we just need to open our hearts and minds to the people right here who are on the edge, or going over the edge.
    Last edited by Barry; 06-22-2011 at 12:25 PM.
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