Many in our valley have fallen for the most common urban myth around: that some conspiracy has singled out our communities of Hemet and San Jacinto to deliver an avalanche of homeless and ex-cons. It’s an easy trap to fall into, but here’s why it isn’t true: all the other cities in our geographic area are facing the same condition. Homelessness is a national problem that has reached every state in the union.
States like California and Florida attract more homeless because the weather is more moderate. It doesn’t take a scientist to figure this out. With no national policy that effectively addresses treating the homeless, each state, county and city must fend for itself. The practice of withdrawing assistance (as done in parts of Orange County) and giving bus tickets out of town (Glendale, Los Angeles and many others) has led to a dysfunctional solution that leaves the homeless caught in the middle.
These homeless are made up of five major groups: 1) Those that just lost their homes and need a hand to find a job and get back into housing and work quickly, 2) alcoholics, 3) drug addicts, 4) mentally ill, and 5) those who simply won’t change their lifestyle choices no matter what we do. Each requires a separate kind of effort and to conflate them all into one large despicable group is a gross error and denies any recognition of the uniqueness of individuals to recognize and overcome their problems. Organizations like the Homeless Outreach Team and Project Hope have been focused on those first four groups. The problem is too large for the two cities alone and will require significant support from citizen volunteers to achieve long-term success.
Dennis Fletcher, San Jacinto.