Homeless issues plague San Luis Obispo

January 14, 2015
Dan Carpenter

Dan Carpenter


Now in the seventh year of SLO County’s “10 year plan to end homelessness,” it can hardly be labeled as successful with more homeless residents in our community than ever before.

The continuum care approach of addressing homelessness promotes a linear model that suggests housing is the end result of an individual moving from streets to shelter, to transitional programs, or to permanent supportive housing. Housing is the prize at the end of the process for a client who can demonstrate compliance to service intense programs while very few resources are put into actual housing. In recent years, new models have emerged that challenge these assumptions.

Commonly referred to as “housing first,” this approach to rapid-rehousing abandons the linear model and puts housing at the front of the process, placing a person in housing first and then dealing with the service needs of the individual.

Empirical research supported by the U.S. Interagency on Homeless (USICH), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), indicates that the mere act of placement in housing produces a level of stabilization that allows the individual to address their other needs more effectively while eliminating the trauma and stigma typically associated with residency in a temporary shelter. A growing body of evidence in the mental and public health literature shows a dramatic improvement in health outcomes, residential stability, and cost to society when homeless people receive supportive medical and case management services while living in permanent affordable housing units.

Serious health problems are common among homeless persons, and shelter settings pose or exacerbate health risks for residents and service providers alike. The concept, linking health to housing, has been put forth by the federal government as a means to ending chronic homelessness and not simply managing it.

Virtually every major study has shown housing first ends homelessness for the most vulnerable homeless people faster, more often and more permanently than traditional, treatment-based approaches through temporary shelters. When the homeless are placed in housing quickly, 85 percent will never return to homelessness according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, making this approach the most effective solution to homelessness we’ve seen.

In contrast to less effective models through temporary shelters, programs such as Housing First do not force homeless people to complete or comply with treatment, mental health care, employment training, or other services in order to access and maintain permanent housing. Instead, it stabilizes people with housing, putting them in a better position to tackle other challenges.

Why then is CAPSLO in partnership with the Homeless Foundation of SLO County building a $4.5 million dollar temporary shelter on Prado Road? What additional resources will be needed to keep this metaphorical albatross sustainable? From my years of volunteer time in overflow shelters and weekly visits to the trenches (vehicles, creeks, or culverts), I can assure you the consensus is a strong desire is to be housed, not corralled in a state of the art shelter.

Most unhoused individuals and families want what everybody desires: a private, safe, clean, and quiet place to call their own. No one should have to process through a shelter of continuum care to earn the right to housing. Obviously, those that support the multi-million dollar shelter are ignoring the plea of those they claim to serve and the national trend towards an alternative approach to ending homelessness.

This new facility will become a mecca for the transient homeless whose pilgrimage is validated daily by our community of guilt-ridden enablers who ignore the benevolence of tough love. “Build it and they will come” takes on a whole new meaning as we become the most “homeless friendly” city in America. As we’ve seen an uptick in recent years, the fringe element and their challenging behaviors have already changed the conscientiousness of our community.

Recent weeks have exposed evidence of this. In early November, a transient allegedly punched a female employee in the face at the Flip Flop Shop on Higuera Street, and in late December a transient allegedly sexually assaulted a young woman in one of our public restrooms on Morro Street.

These mentally challenged individuals are typically the ones who are denied or resist access to the shelter and its programs. The new Prado Road mecca will illuminate a perception of “fair game” on our community by those who have lack of deference for the law, and rely on persistent panhandling.

If we’re serious about putting an end to homelessness as touted by so many leaders in our community, then (1) scrap the mecca shelter, (2) invest the $4.5 million or more into permanent rental housing, and a chemical dependency/mental health intensive inpatient facility, (3) consistently enforce the laws governing illegal behavior. Of course, your name won’t be on a shiny brass plaque outside a shelter on Prado Road, but you will have the peace of mind knowing that you genuinely provided dignity and compassionate care to the least of those among us.

On Jan. 20, your SLO City Council is poised to approve a funding agreement for the Homeless Services Center on Prado Road in the amount of $250,000. If you’d like your taxpayer dollars to be spent more humanely on our homeless residents, then please contact your elected representatives. You may contact me directly at (dcarpent@slocity.org) or (805-431-3174).

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  1. freshair says:

    SLO is so fortunate to have a few men like Dan who care.

    His article however does not mention a recent program by Transitions Mental Health (THMA) that is actually placing people in what few vacant homes Haslo has available, called 50Now:


    Capslo’s role would be better suited helping those with addictions, particularly our homeless veterans.

    (8) 16 Total Votes - 12 up - 4 down
    • Ted Slanders says:


      Isn’t it despicable to actually state that CAPSLO should take care of the mentally ill and addictive VETERANS that went off to two needless fraudulent Bush wars instead of the government?

      Then to pour salt upon the open wound, the GOP had a chance to prove that it could fund veterans’ health care as eagerly as it BORROWED for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that left us a SIX TRILLION DOLLAR DEBT. The Senate Republicans had a chance to vote on a landmark bill entitled the “Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014.”

      Unfortunately, S.1982 was killed by Senate Republicans, with a vote of 56-41 — only Republicans Senators voting nay and with only two Republicans voting for the bill.

      The GOP is good at starting these needless and fraudulent wars with comical intel proposed, but are disgusting at taking care of the Veterans coming home that are in need because of them. Sickening!

      (-6) 28 Total Votes - 11 up - 17 down
      • freshair says:

        Ted, I believe in miracles, so I spend my $1.00 Tribune money now to light a daily candle at the Mission. I prayerfully ask God to please guide Capslo to help homeless people find refuge so that they can all become good citizens of SLO.

        (-7) 9 Total Votes - 1 up - 8 down
        • Ted Slanders says:


          Here is your problem that may be embarrassingly revealed to you, as a fellow Christian, I am sure you know that whatever you ask in prayer, it will be provided to you, as long as you truly BELIEVE, as none other than Jesus the Christ says so!

          Jesus stated; “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, BELIEVING, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22) Key word: “believe,” which triggers the prayer, and therefore it is assumed that if a Christian does NOT get their prayer answered, then the onus is put upon them that they didn’t “believe” enough.

          This is why I NEVER pray, especailly in a closet like we’re suppose to do in private (Matthew 6:5-6). This is because I am afraid that it won’t be answered, therefore, it falls upon me not believing enough. Besides, we have a way out because it shows insolence to our Hebrew God by praying in the first place, because He wants us ONLY to pray the Lord’s Prayer when we pray! (Matthew 5: 6-15)

          (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
    • ND1857 says:


      (-5) 5 Total Votes - 0 up - 5 down
      • isoslo says:

        Start taking care of yourself and stop thinking anyone else is going to do it for you!

        (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
  2. Ted Slanders says:

    In prayer with Jesus last night relative to this story, He informed me that a coalition insidiously called the “Interfaith Coalition for the Homeless” in San Luis Obispo County was a complete ruse by using His name in helping the homeless. This is because this ungodly coalition has twelve church divisions of faith, but only ONE Church per month of the twelve in our area helps the homeless at their respective place of worship. What’s wrong with this picture?!

    Jesus told me that the Churches of this coalition should be embarrassed beyond recognition to call themselves Christians and Jews, whereas it should be asked of them, WWJD and YHWH?!

    Jesus would require each of these twelve divisional churches to help the homeless 24/7/365! For a Christian church not to become hypocritical to Jesus’ teachings, then any TIME OFF from helping the poor is biblically not an option, period!

    It’s time for these said churches to read their bibles for a change instead of using them as a door stop. Of course, the Synagogs have a free pass on what Jesus says for the obvious reasons, but they still have to follow what their God YHWH said relative to the poor at all times.

    “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.” (Psalm 82:3)

    “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17)

    “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” ( Luke 14:13-14)

    “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you.” ( Leviticus 25:35-36)

    “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17)

    Jesus said: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless.” ( Proverbs 31:8)

    “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I COMMAND YOU, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ (Deuteronomy 15:11)

    My fellow Christians can be such hypocrites at times that they make me sick, and I am sure, along with Jesus as well.

    (-4) 20 Total Votes - 8 up - 12 down
    • Slowerfaster says:

      Very well put, Brother Ted.

      I have asked this repeatedly ….along with the missing caseworkers that are paid to find and work with the indigent among us, WHERE are the CHRISTIANS that are COMMANDED to minister to the poor ? I never see them on the streets or the creeks doing WWJD !

      No, they sit in their temples built like palaces, collect their ‘donations’ every week, and mouth platitudes.
      These are ‘faith by words’ crowd as cited in James 2:18 .

      (-2) 22 Total Votes - 10 up - 12 down
      • Ted Slanders says:

        Brother SF,

        It pains me a great deal in having to show once again in how certain religious foundations use the term of Christianity in their headings, but at the same time, they run contrary to it’s true teachings!

        “And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD of God.” (Luke 4:4 )


        (-1) 15 Total Votes - 7 up - 8 down
        • Slowerfaster says:

          Brother Ted …in prayer and consultation with Jesus myself, I asked him pointedly, “What can we do ? WHAT would HE do ? ”

          The answer ? … “Who do you think told the Pope to smack his ‘good friend’ in the nose, if the ‘good friend’ insulted his mother ? ”

          “I turned my cheek once, and look what it got me ! Stuck up on a pole, and all of my supposed ‘friends’ abandoning me ! ”
          ” I gave them all a chance, and the first time, I brought my tongue. They didn’t listen. They have wax of greed, materiality, and pride in their ears. Their minds are mush. Really, these people are too stupid to save. They’re brutes and savages that ignore GOD and any like me that explain a better way. ”
          “So, screw ’em. THIS time, I bring a sword !”

          (-3) 13 Total Votes - 5 up - 8 down
          • Slowerfaster says:

            Matthew 10:36 Luke 22:36

            (-3) 11 Total Votes - 4 up - 7 down
          • Ted Slanders says:

            Brother SF,

            Yes, as we know, you don’t want to PO Jesus because He was a real rebel rouser for sure!

            “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)

            Jesus said: “He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. The disciples said, ‘See, Lord, here are two swords. That’s enough! he replied.” (Luke 22:36-38)

            Jesus wouldn’t be promoting swords today, but guns. I can picture our Savior saying to his people now, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also buy a bag, and if you don’t have a 44 MAGNUM, sell your cloak and buy one.”

            As I’ve said countless of times, Jesus is a man’s man, praise!

            (-1) 11 Total Votes - 5 up - 6 down
  3. willieslo says:

    How is it that so many homeless transient from all over the US know to come to SLO?
    Did we really draw them here or are the other states paying their fare to come here for both?
    We have had our own homeless before and failed to care for them.
    Now we got a growing out of state influx that cannot be stopped.

    (14) 18 Total Votes - 16 up - 2 down
    • Slowerfaster says:

      God did it, by providing this place with such an amenable climate for even those with meager material means to live and not freeze to death in the winter, or from heatstroke and thirst in the summer.

      When the gods of money ( wealthy men , godless worshippers of mammon ) decide to kill the economy; those of lesser means in less hospitable places move to where God has provided.

      Pray in your closet, and God will tell you this is true.
      Ask Ted ^^^^.

      (-13) 25 Total Votes - 6 up - 19 down
  4. achillesheal says:

    If you remove the word “issues” from the title of the article then we are on to something.

    The city was cutting the grass at Mitchell park yesterday morning, so. One of these filthy bims got off the grass and lay on the picnic table. 4 hours later the filthy bum was still there. I drove by about 2 hrs from that and the bun had moved back to the grass.

    Doing his best to contribute to society.

    (3) 13 Total Votes - 8 up - 5 down
  5. freshair says:

    The only agency in San Luis Obispo actively working to end homelessness is Transitions Mental Health Association (THMA). Thanks to their 50Now program, people are being placed into homes.

    THMA’s new program called 50Now is taking an innovative approach to helping the 50 most vulnerable, chronically homeless in San Luis Obispo County. The goal is to first provide housing, then services such as drug, alcohol and mental health treatment.

    In August, the county Board of Supervisors approved a $1.9 million three-year contract with Transitions-Mental Health Association to launch the 50Now program.

    In addition, the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo provided a housing subsidy through a federal rental assistance program to help pay the majority of rent for each of them.

    Capslo has no business attemting to reign in as SLO’s premier homeless agency. It is effective solely in providing temporary emergency housing, aimed at driving people nuts and then helping them get on Social Security so they can provide them with a nightly bed at the night shelter for a large portion of their monthly disability stipend. If the organization wishes to stand out and gain community support, it should open a DETOX CENTER.

    (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
  6. willieslo says:

    Regardless of Economic Indicators:
    There are a lot of people who are not homeless who appear well off or well maintained but having difficulty making ends meet.
    For many and recurrently, credit cards are the only thing that helps keep them afloat.

    The problem will persist.
    Who will rescue the working poor and homeless.
    The rich and powerful could care less unless they can make another buck off them.

    This is reality.
    Ultimately the working poor and the homeless must come to terms with themselves that only they can help themselves.
    And realize that anything free from the government or in life is not really free.
    They can live in SLO creek till hell freezes over but the truth will not change.

    As for the transient who punched a female employee in the face at the Flip Flop Shop on Higuera Street, and
    the transient who attempted to sexually assaulted a young woman in one of our public restrooms on Morro Street, they belong in jail instead of ASH.
    There are many good people that are homeless and even some with mental issues who would never do things like that no matter how down and out things are!

    (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
    • willieslo says:

      I think that Ted Sanders idea of a CCC (a work apprentice program updated to suit the current job market) with housing.
      Again, its not free, have to be disciplined, make sacrifice, work, learn and earn.
      I once overheard some homeless-transient coaching each other to not accept any work less than what they want. It gave me a sense they are using their circumstance as leverage to fulfill a free dream. These types can wait till hell freezes over.

      (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
      • agag1 says:

        You’re right Willie,
        the Lord helps those who help themselves.

        (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
  7. SamLouis says:

    I just re-read Councilman Carpenter’s opinion piece. It’s a well crafted work that’s truly insightful and thought-provoking. It contains the results of actual research and critical analysis. It also begs a very important question.

    Does the balance of the SLO City Council and the executive branch of CAPSLO even have the perspicacity to grasp what Carpenter has opined (no matter what their own final conclusions might be)? I cannot imagine any other member of the council or anyone from CAPSLO thinking and writing at this level — even if it was from a contrary position. In simplest terms I don’t think they pack the gear to do this extremely important issue any real justice.

    Perhaps I’m wrong? I challenge Ashbaugh, Christianson, Marx, Rivoire and/or the CAPSLO crew to argue against Carpenter’s opinion. I’m not interested in emotion or ad hominem attacks. I want someone to use fact and logic to counter Carpenter’s opinion.

    I suspect CCN and the local newspaper would publish their views. I hope someone has the courage to respond. Thanks.

    (18) 24 Total Votes - 21 up - 3 down

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