My friends and I believe March 13 article by David Courtland on police harassment of homeless people (see “The Hidden Community,” News, 3/13/08) only shows one miniscule part of homeless problems.
The current stereotypes of today happen to be the position of the homeless. Often they are looked upon as stupid, unhealthy Americans, and in some cases, this happens to be true. There are those that choose to live the life of a “hobo,” but it is not like that for all. The common misinterpreted view on the homeless is “He is just another addict, why help him?”
What I will argue, though, is most homeless are not senseless people. In fact, in many ways, they are a lot more intelligent and ambitious than you may think.
In recent years, the Ventura County Rescue Mission has taken it upon itself to keep the alley behind it clean and, I might even say, beautiful. It is important to note that the citations issued to its clients by the Oxnard Police Department mentioned in Courtland’s article were in excess of $400 each. Homeless people are in no way able to pay such large fines. To my knowledge, all the littering charges mentioned in the article were individually dropped in courts. So these tickets tied up the system and cost you, Joe and Jolene taxpayer. If for no other reason, taxpayers should be outraged.
Should we now call the Oxnard Police Department the Keystone Cops? Of course not, they are serious and carry guns, Tasers and night sticks. There is nothing comical about any police presence in America (Remember McArthur Park in Los Angeles on May Day 2007?).
Perhaps we should refer to the police as the office of “The Sheriff of Nottingham.”
Or maybe we are just seeing a dynamic of cops vs. the homeless. Cops run homeless people around, hoping they will move to another town — the police in Shelbyville chase homeless over to Springfield, and Chief Wiggum chases them back to Shelbyville; hopefully for both cities the homeless will just end up in South Park.
I was disappointed Courtland’s article did not point out many of the homeless are in this situation because they lost their livelihoods. Many are highly skilled in their area of expertise.
Some were unable to collect back wages; Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took the teeth out of labor enforcement. Some got sick and. Some “un-retired” because there is no health care system, and if you are retired, most vets offer a better bedside manner for dogs than health professionals may show you.
Some homeless have other problems, and some have combinations of problems, and, of course, some arrived on the streets because of drug and alcohol abuse. This is the most prevalent picture painted for outsiders of homelessness.
As for the cops, they figure they are working for Joe and Jolene citizen, who pay taxes that fund their salaries. It is unlikely that attitude will ever change.
In fear of losing the reader, I would like to point out homeless women with children are the most severely affected. They really have to live in the shadows. If they even take a sick child to the clinic they have to face the fear of losing their children.
So will the reader consider the astronomical foreclosure rate in the U.S. right now? These people are hitting the streets as this essay goes to press. They are typical American families: mom, dad, 2 1/2 kids, a dog and a cat. To my knowledge, the problem not being addressed is: Where do these people go?
This not just happening in our town or our county or our state, but all across the nation.
Ladies and gentlemen, taxpayers, you are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. There is no plan, no navigation equipment to steer the country away from the problem. The people of Wall Street have taken control of our government and have brought the country toward destruction and are now abandoning ship. No one, not even the Democrats, seem to offer a correctional course for our economic woes.
We should be outraged by the popular press, both printed and television, in their manipulation of the truth. Friday the press says Wall Street is fine. Saturday they tell us the Fed has to bail them out.
My temporary home is the Oxnard Armory. There are myriad people staying there. This accommodation expired March 24. The small, inadequate shelter had provided for more than 150 people on some nights. I am grateful for it.
Some people are probably going to be homeless because that is their way. I have met two ex-military helicopter pilots, one jet jock, a civil engineer, a registered nurse, marketing expert and people like myself who are highly skilled, who are not alcoholics, addicts or even nurses, but never felt we would end up in this mess.
For the hardcore homeless people nothing much will change if they receive more benefits. Most of the benefits will go into alcohol or drug abuse or just up in smoke. Perhaps what the taxpayer should be concerned with is the spread of disease and, with the economy spiraling down out of control, are you only one paycheck from being homeless yourself?
March 17 was St. Patrick’s Day and most people were wearing green. In celebration of this day I will be wearing green, but I will be celebrating Robin Hood Day.
Little John is a pseudonym chosen by a homeless individual familiar with the Ventura County Rescue Mission and the National Guard Armory’s shelter.