Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Homeless update

Whew! It looks like a temporary emergency winter homeless shelter will be provided at the Guerneville Veterans Hall thanks to the efforts of West County Community Services, our local Veteran’s Connect, the Veteran’s Administration, & other homeless advocates. I hope this means that some other community group besides the Russian River Interfaith Coalition (RRIC) may emerge to address homeless issues on the Russian River & that this new group can accomplish something.

I don't mean to disrespect the folks at the Russian River Interfaith Coalition (RRIC) since I know they're sincere & have several friends & acquaintances who've worked hard for them in the past. Even yours truly helped a little with last year's pasta dinner fundraiser for the emergency shelter in Hubert Hall. But as I mentioned in my last posting, something's seriously wrong with RRIC.

Also, Efren Carrillo our 5th District Supervisor Elect does have some knowledge & experience about homeless issues & hopefully he’ll be able to work with us more effectively than Mike Reilly has been able to do.

Alas, an acquaintance of mine who attended recent meetings of the Russian River Fire Protection District (RRFPD) & the RRIC emergency meeting (to deal with the lack of a shelter) has informed me that the possibility of a homeless shelter at the Rio Nido Fire Station is “still on the table”. Not only that, but rumor has it that some people at RRIC want to make it PERMANENT! This looks highly unlikely, because Sam Barnhard from Catholic Charities – who would have run the proposed emergency shelter in Rio Nido – stated during the December 4 RRIC meeting that he would decline to do so because of all the local opposition.

Nonetheless, it looks like we folks in Rio Nido will need to stay on our toes.

Rumor has it that an important member of the RRFPD’s Board of Directors is involved with the people at RRIC or at least supportive of their agenda. Hmph. This could make it awfully hard for Fire Chief Sean Grinnell to get his proposed (& desperately-needed) tax hike through. Also, I have been informed that RRIC's emergency meeting was sparsely attended.


The Lighthouse Keeper said...

RRIC's meetings are sparsely attended probably for two reasons: (a) they like to spring them on people at the last minute; and (b) (a) probably happens because they're terminally disorganized. Unfortunately, it also makes it appear that they're trying to pull a fast one and get things accomplished through bypassing the opposition. Thre's also, of course, the idiotic political correctness factor that holds that the homeless are noble victims of The System and therefore all of us are obligated to expaite our sins by welcoming these people into the firehouse directly across the street (or down the block) from us. (Lloyd Guccione is the most uxorious but by no means the only one who holds this view.)

Fortunately, those prating about this issue have no clout in this community, due to their incompetence. The West County Services group is much more organized and established, knows how to write grant proposals, and actually delivered the homeless shelter that was so desperately needed in a much more appropriate location.

Anonymous said...

One very important point that you made in your blog is that a homeless shelter needs to serve the homeless by offering services to help them become employable, etc.

This isn't a 30 day need, it usually takes a minimum of 90 days or longer to deal with the issues of homelessness becoming employable and able to get housing. That would be the homeless that don't have disabilities which are other issues that require much more assistance.

What to do? Most of the homeless require something we all require and that is love and acceptance. There are issues we can't accept such as drug and alochol abuse, and too bad there aren't laws that require these services for these issues. But if that was the case, then there would be lawsuits about personal freedoms and funding for these issues are not priority.

So what do you do? You care and give a blanket, sleeping bag, and warm place to sleep if possible.

If you want to be an advocacy group for the homeless, then you use your voice and energy to get as much support for changing funding and services for the homeless cycles to be broken. Wouldn't it be nice to know that you could call you local fire department for a voucher for a mom with kids in need to spend the night in a motel until they could get the services they need?

The largest issue is with non-profits. They are competing for funding and as much as this county has tried for a one-stop shop for funnelling funding for services, the non-profits can't seem to let go of their heirarchies. Understandable, but this is just like the buearchesy (misspelled) that we deal with in government agencies.

Solution: Make some legislature that deals with the issues of homelessness in the long term and not just giving a 30 day stay that doesn't give time and services to break the cycles. Provide solutions for the mentally ill where they are required to live in homes that serve their needs such as dispensing their meds, money management, drug and alcohol abuse, etc.