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    Two Visions of America by Don Jans

    The Least the Lost and the Hopeless: Who is Accountable for America’s Homeless? Who is Doing Enough?




    According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report, as of 2018, there were around 553,000 homeless people in the United States on a given night or 0.17% of America’s population.

    They come from all walks of life and from many different circumstances as to why they became homeless. You know, those people who are the lost, the least, and hopeless. You walk by them every day as they ask for money outside a grocery store or holding a sign up at an intersection asking for help. But we look the other way or walk right past them.

    Again, life circumstances. Is homelessness due to addiction problems or mental health illness? The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) reported in July 2019 that approximately 26% of homeless Americans had some form of mental illness, and nearly 35% were affected and suffering from addictions. When was the last time you bought an expensive Starbucks coffee and gave one to a homeless person? Or bought lunch at McDonald’s and seen someone homeless outside? Did you buy two meals so you could give one to him/her, knowing they must be hungry?

    If there are homeless shelters and services for them? Why are the homeless not seeking them out or looking for the help they desperately need? Is it because some centers might be too religion-based, mismanaged, or not enough services to help them transition off the streets? Or can it possibly be the homeless person who doesn’t feel safe in a center or shelter? It could be a combination of all these reasons within a so-called “Safe Haven.”

    So, who is accountable, and are they being transparent? Who does it fall back on when you have a chronic homeless problem in your city? Is it our government, the state, the city council, or the commissioner’s problem? Or maybe the housing program directors? When a shelter is seeking funds from the state or city like one shelter in Oxnard, CA. Then all you need to do is do some research and follow the money trail.

    It is that simple. (Like from this article)

    Why not listen to the people who are your taxpayers? Those who take the time to come and speak at the city council meetings Mayor Flynn and City Council members?

    Some of my friends, including Lang Martinez, know first hand about being homeless. He had first-hand living experiences in many shelters and how the shelters were running. He was one of the lost, the least, and homeless less than two years ago. He has advocated for the homeless tirelessly in his unconventional way while holding others to be accountable and transparent.

    Why was Lang homeless? He had a severe meth addiction and mental health challenges that added to him being homeless. Lang shared many of his experiences with me of his homelessness. What I was hearing was how poorly some of these shelters are running with minimal services. The homeless are human beings, after all. I began to research our homeless where I live in Arizona, in Maricopa County, and Ventura Counties to compare. I asked Lang to reach out to a couple of shelters/centers he knows about to help me with my research.

    In Arizona, I called the Mission President Jay Cory, and spoke to his assistant at the Phoenix Rescue Mission and asked about our homeless numbers here, and she shared that in JAN. 2019, the last count was done on the night of January 21, 2019, with 6,614 people experienced homelessness within our region, which was an increase of 316 people over 2018. Of those people, around 52%, or 3.426 people, were staying at an emergency shelter, transitional housing, or safe haven programs.

    I visited and toured the Phoenix Rescue Mission last year when my dear friend, Big Jim Downs, was biking around America to raise awareness of addiction. He made stops at each state capital to talk to legislators about homelessness and addiction, and we had speaking events at each one. The Phoenix mission let us borrow tables and chairs for our event outside on the state capitol lawn in downtown Phoenix, which was reported by the news stations and newspapers.

    This shelter was a very well-run facility with exceptional services in place: full hot food program, case management, and social services that also included addiction services and some for mental health, recovery groups, and outstanding transitional housing and work programs as we were happily welcomed and allowed to ask questions.

    Lang, on the other hand, had an interesting time with his research. So I began doing some research. Lang and a few friends who live in the Oxnard area, and who are taxpayers, by the way, say there is still a severe homeless problem in Oxnard and Ventura County. At the same time, it seems strange that Oxnard and Ventura County is one of the wealthiest places to live in America (Ed note; Oxnard is NOT one of the wealhtiest places in America) with the worst homeless problem. I began to read some disturbing trends.

    One, it was becoming evident within the city of Oxnard, despite their communities willing to help solve this problem, and many of Oxnard’s city council members, commissioners, and Mayor seem to be fighting it each step of the way, including changing their by-laws. Why have or appoint special task forces who have NO voting rights to implement and vote on what could help solve the homeless problems?

    Second, after reading the new public by-laws and recent changes they have made. After reading many articles in various newspapers of the Ventura County Star, Citizens Journal, and in the Los Angeles Times, which reported that Ventura County is pushing for legislation about public death records. report deaths publicly and quoted, “Ventura County leaders agreed this week to sponsor state legislation that would bar the disclosure of death records to the public.”

    (The article by The Los Angeles Times).

    Something doesn’t smell right. Is Ventura County doing this because they are among the highest in homeless deaths at around 4.9% when other counties are much lower? Look, a human being is a human being living or dead; even a homeless person has a right to dignity when they die. Isn’t it bad enough in Ventura County that you have minimal shelters and services for your homeless population, but to continue to hide and deflect them instead of helping them and treat them with some hope, kindness, and a little help too much ask? Your community, businesses, and caring individuals, again, are ready and willing to help solve the problem.

    But, again, follow the money trail per another article from the Ventura County Star from July 2019, (Can be Read Here):

    If allocated, this one homeless shelter in Oxnard that was in fear of closing, did they get the whopping $956,000.00 to continue to run through the end of 2019?

    Yes, so let’s look at this. Now to be fair, once Mercy takes over completely? As the article reports, “the arrival of Mercy House, the city will no longer have a role in the shelter’s operations.” Look, they got emergency funding and yet only have minimal services even as today?

    Lang reached out to this shelter’s Chief Program Officer and learned some alarming news. Why, after receiving $956,000.00, there is still no hot food (Ed. note: Lang later clarified this to Citizens Journal, claiming at all meals are not hot), and even minimal programs and services? How do you spend that much money in less than six months and have minimal services? Lang asked the chief program officer if he could come to talk about this, and the Chief agreed at first, but when Lang asked if he could bring a reporter with him, guess what? The chief program officer declined. What are they hiding?

    Here is the email; 

    “Dear Lang,
    I hear that you are concerned about the meal service provided to clients at the Oxnard Navigation Center. I am still acclimating myself to the many responsibilities of my new role, and am not yet completely familiar with the details of the contract for the program in question. That being said, I’ll be sure to become familiar with it shortly in order to accurately address your questions. With that in mind, I want to ask you to be sensitive to the privacy of our shelter residents and staff and to clarify that you do not have permission to film on the shelter premises.”

    XXXXXXXX | Chief Program Officer  
    It seems clear and obvious that several city council members and the Mayor of Oxnard want to hide what is going on with TAXPAYERS money and have no accountability nor be transparent to their community they are supposed to serve. So who does it fall back on to be accountable? Does it fall on this one shelter of only two available in Ventura County and Oxnard? Or the decision-makers in city finance and housing programs of the city of Oxnard? I think by following the money and hearing the concerns of that community, it goes back to the county and city officials who have the voting powers and who allocated the money to the said homeless shelter.

    So, here are some questions the community, businesses, the taxpayers, and advocates like myself have. Your community needs your attention and would like answers by the city, county, the Mayor, Tim Flynn, and Oxnard city council members.

    Especially since this is public, like the open agreement with the city, and said shelter to help allow it to run through the end of 2019, along with WHY you are pushing legislation changes in not reporting deaths in your county publicly? More hiding? 

    1.) Where did all of the $956,000.00 go when the contract and agreement of said homeless shelter are to provide three hot meals per day? Why aren’t they NOT being provided as per many of your residents housed at this facility who have complained?

    2.) How much is the going rate for a bowl of cold cereal or cold salad as the shelter disclosed $3.00 per hot meal?

    3.) And since your agreement is public knowledge and has been reported in the media, how about the homeless concerns and questions your residents of Oxnard have- why are you declining to give answers?

    4.) Why are there still minimal services like addiction services, mental health services, work, and social services and programs? Why are you not letting any recovery meetings like AA, NA, or GA meet onsite?

    I’ll close with questions which are my own questions and these are my opinions as I posed them at the beginning of this article:

    1.) If there are homeless shelters and services for them in Oxnard like the many across America, why are the homeless not seeking them out or looking for the help they desperately need?

    2.) Is it because the shelters might be too religion-based, poorly managed, or not have enough services to help them transition off the streets?

    3.) Or is it possible the homeless person doesn’t feel safe in a center or shelter in your city? Why is that?

    It could be a combination of all these reasons within a so-called “Safe Haven.” I can safely say something needs to be fixed in Ventura County and in the city of Oxnard, CA.

    Yes, I already hear many asking, why am I even concerned or interested since I don’t live in Oxnard? I’ll tell you why.

    I work with and help many across America who suffer from addictions, especially gambling addiction, mental health challenges, and are homeless. I have maintained recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol over 13+years. And gambling addiction is one that requires no substance but leaves many homeless. I also sponsor and support many maintaining recoveries from addiction, and not just in Arizona. I have been a loud and proud recovery advocate that is concerned about the problems of the homeless in America and in my city. Especially with our veterans being homeless.

    So isn’t it time we hold our “States Elected City and County Officials” accountable? Tell them to step out of their self-serving attitudes toward the homeless and stop hiding the problem. I believe they call this “Corruption.” Isn’t it the time they work with the community who are willing, ready, and able to help alleviate the homeless problem in your city?

    The least, the lost, and hopeless deserve our empathy, understanding, and some dignity in being treated like any other human being, homeless or not, even after death. 

    Lastly, by introducing legislation like Ventura County has by not publically reporting deaths won’t fix your homeless problem in the county or in Oxnard. By sweeping it under this ridiculous piece of legislation and law, as if the problem doesn’t exist, only continues to makes the county, the city, and the elected officials look more heartless than already are…

    ~Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

    Need Help From Homelessness? Please Call  1-800-569-4287 or 1-800-339-9597, CA.

    Need Help From Problem Gambling? Please Call  1-800-522-4700
    The National Problem Gambling Helpline, operated by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), is available to you and can be reached via phone or text at 1-800-522-4700. The National Helpline is confidential and available 24 hours a day.


    Republished with permission: Source

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    3 years ago

    Another reason for the homeless not going to shelters is that they do not want to follow the rules. They want to be able to consume their drugs. The author neglected to mention this! Society is full of rules, none of us are really free. If they want help they will need to follow the rules like the rest of us.

    Paul White
    Paul White
    4 years ago

    It’s hard to decide what was worse about this maudlin article: it’s total unawareness of the facts about homelessness, or excessive droning on.

    There ARE no legitimate homeless on the street, as Lang will tell you. They’re vagrant by choice because they don’t CHOOSE to become clean/sober, go into a great mission program, seek readily available mental health treatment, work, OR obey the law. Those who are willing to do that, get off the street immediately. Those who DON’T choose to do that – the 99% – don’t HAVE to, because uninformed, pitying enablers like the author, the homeless industrial complex, and local politicians prefer to keep on doing what makes THEM feel good, rather than supporting firm, fair law enforcement which actually DOES good.

    Diann yakle
    Diann yakle
    4 years ago

    Some of the reasons is it is to hard to get into shelters. They are or they want you to be sent be able to be reached by phone which if you are mental you don’t have a phone because you list it or some one took it. Then you have to be referred. That is a lot for some of the homeless to go through. Some people try but are turned away. So they give up.

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