Homeless suffer during cold spells
December 17, 2015
OPINION by BECKY JORGESON
It’s 5 a.m. in the morning and it’s 26 degrees out. I wonder how many more homeless people will die this winter on the Central Coast from hypothermia.
We have so many volunteers signed up, excited to begin building tiny homes with our homeless people. Folks realize the punishment homeless people take in the winter (and all year long)…not having bathrooms to use in the evenings, no public showers in all of SLO, no public place where they are even allowed to take a nap after being up all night.
City Hall now has dividers on the benches by the buses precluding all from laying down, nor can they sit under the overhang for shelter there in the rain. And if they’re caught trying to sleep anywhere outside, they can, and most likely will, be ticketed for “illegal lodging.”
One veteran and his wife in North County told me if they sit upright all night on the bus bench, the police won’t ticket them. For illegal lodging. What is illegal about sleep? We all need it. We all know that sleep deprivation is used as a means of torture. Why do we torture people without housing?
How did we get to a place in society where we punish those who are less fortunate than us? Give them tickets for illegal lodging instead of trying to help them? We’ve made poverty into a business. Passing out tickets (even to our veterans and elderly) to those trying to get some rest. When was the last time you went a few nights without sleep?
Yes, we have many wonderful services and programs, and many good-hearted people working hard to run those programs. Many are helped into housing. But some fall into the gap in services. Some do not qualify for housing, or even shelter. Some are literally on the streets with no access to shelter, clean water, toilets, showers, laundry facilities, telephones, etc. Many have no family. We will be their family.
This is archaic. We live in a crazy world where 400,000 drones fly over the country unchecked; we routinely go to the moon and back, robots perform surgery and it looks like we’ll soon have driverless vehicles. People from other countries strap bombs onto their bodies blowing themselves into a million pieces in order to kill others, and we can’t figure out how to help our human friends more than our animal friends? How did we become so uncaring? We are so blessed to live in this pristine place we call home.
We just need a little more love in our hearts.
Please call your supervisor or city council member. Ask them to help Hope’s Village find five acres of land. San Luis Obispo County Planning and Building is making the time to work with us. We are a 501(c)(3) California corporation; we have our business plan, by-laws, and money in the bank. We can get 60 more homeless people out of the bushes, off the streets, and into real stick-built tiny homes in the first village alone.
This isn’t rocket science…it’s compassion.
Becky Jorgeson is a long time homeless advocate and the founder of Hopes Village of SLO.