The homeless, a community’s failure

 

 

By Seth Bonilla

Port Hueneme, a place my wife and I called home 5 years ago. Prior to us moving here we lived in Bakersfield California and served on a team providing meals to over 5000 per month and  also provided resources for the homeless population to utilize.  

We learned very quickly that when you do not have the full weight of the city leadership as well as a significant number of community members to assist in this crisis ( Homelessness) you exhaust resources and energy rather quickly. We spent 12 years in this endeavor and watched it grow (Homlessness) during this time.

Bakersfield is not only a mean town politically but also has the worst police department in the nation along with some of the worst air quality to boot.

Now that we are here in Port Hueneme and have seen some of the same effects when a local government refuses to put people above profits and also when community members do not prioritize the health of their own neighbors homeless or not.

We both have grown tired of the typical cliche that these bums want nothing more than a hand out and who refuse to pull themselves up on their own since they alone created this condition, which is the farthest statement from truth. People no longer consider the person, the childhood and many of the disadvantages they suffered early in life.

When did it become acceptable to disregard a human life that seems to be lowly because so many have prospered and look down on those with less, if this is you, shame be upon you for your lack of common decency. City leaders have an inherent responsibility to EVERYONE as well period. Finely tuned speeches will never justify the suffering of others from any walk of life no matter what position you hold.

In the 5 yrs that we have served this community the homeless concern grows, community members are now angry since city leaders have allowed the homeless behaviors to take over our beaches, our sidewalks and streets, our waterways, our store fronts and bushes, it is downright right shameful and inexcusable.

Port Hueneme has collected and continues to collect massive amounts of revenue from marijuana despencerie and only uses a small portion to buy beds that are delivered to outlying cities such as Oxnard. To our knowledge Hueneme has no viable or sustainable services to address this concern, why? Why does this city pass our homeless problems to outlying communities? Where is Hueneme accountability in this ” Friendly city by the sea” what on earth does this reflect? 

Failure in leadership, failures in community participation is to blame for this, it is simply a human failure whether you account for it or not. Look at the virus crisis now. Why shelter them now when they could have been sheltered long ago? And when this virus subsides won’t it go back to what it was before.

The homeless have been deprived of the most basic of services here in Hueneme. I have personally tried to get the city to mobilize portable showers, toilets, basic medical attention with an ombudsman mobil trailer to fan out throughout the city as a pilot program with many vital services, but these idea’s require community support to initiate instead of city leadership stepping up to say let’s get this done.

Forty years of talk and we can’t even mirror what other states and communities have implemented and have had and continue to have great successes. Christian men and women occupy many areas of this community but yet have failed also on the most basic of principles in life and that is to help and love your neighbors. You dont get to choose what Godly principles you want to exercise and when. As men and women of faith we are to be beacons for the lowly and hopeless.

These people are drug addicted, are alcohol saturated, and their minds sick because they have no one to help them. They suffer from isolation and reasonable human contact since many prefer them in the shadows of life where they can’t be seen. They cannot break addictions without help. They cannot get jobs while filthy. And cannot thrive without assistance, assistance that a human decency should provide 

The bible says remove the log from your own eye before trying to remove the speck from your brothers and sisters. It is high time to hold city leaders to account, to hold one another to account and to remove the blinders so the prism in which we all look through is the same and clear. We may not ever be able to fully eliminate homelessness, but one thing is certain and that is if all of us continue to allow this to happen without mindful ordinances that requires the homeless to be sheltered, to accept help, this will not end.

We have spoken personally to many that we serve each month and although there are those who are assistant resistant, there are equally as many who are desperate for help. Those in positions of leadership will one day be held to a higher account as will we. My life and the life of my wife is no more important than the most lowly, so it is better for some to not think of themselves more highly than they should because the measure which we use will be measured back to us.

When this virus crisis is over I implore Hueneme residents to rise up in full force and demand from the city as well as ourselves to say enough is enough because as surely as one concern passes another is waiting to rear it’s ugly head and if we can come together and work diligently together we can once again call this the friendly city by the sea.


Seth Bonilla was born out of country (Central America) and raised in Bakersfield Ca most of my life. Worked in executive protection for several years, married in my mid 20’s with 2 sons and have since been married for 30 years. I am a veteran military police officer and now operate a small fencing business- for the last 20 years. My wife and I have always been servants of our communities and been doing so for 17 years in the food distribution area and supplying the homeless with resources, hope, and love.

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10 Responses to The homeless, a community’s failure

  1. Abe Blanken April 1, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Way too many inaccuracies in this “opinion” piece to go through one by one. Several sweeping statements that are false. Author loses credibility which is detrimental to his overall message.

    Reply
  2. P W Robinson March 31, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    I know Lang, and have also written extensively about the VC homeless on TheUnhoused.com. While I rarely agree with Lang about anything, his courage and brutal honesty, his perspective from the bottom, are an important addition to the conversation.

    That said, the most profound failure of the community regarding Ventura County homeless, by far, has been the killing of us, by the dozens, over the past few years, and the ongoing cover-up.

    Everyone knows, the perps anyway, and they silently and amusingly await the mighty sword of public sentiment and justice with their necks outstretched. Everyone gets paid in full.

    PWR

    Reply
  3. Diann March 30, 2020 at 8:52 pm

    There is no plan for the homeless in Oxnard or Port hueneme. I know this first hand. And the shelter that is st. The Amory is only for certain few. You have to have it yo have to be reachable by phone. Or referred. That is the only shelter other than the mission. So the person that says there is empty beds I would like to know where. As well as the Opd plan. I just ask an officer a few days ago and he said there is no plan or place. So people who live homeless know exactly what is going on. I do not know where the first person got her info it is not exactly true. Ask a homeless person to get the truth!

    Reply
  4. Jim March 30, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    Thank you for bringing this situation to the light, I would love to help you in any way I can. After the virus lifts, I’d love to meet with you and I would like to help to push the city to bring on the initiatives in the area. Please email me if you see this comment. [email protected]

    Reply
  5. Gene Cavazos March 30, 2020 at 10:22 am

    While fighting the good fight of faith, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that victory only comes when we are part of an army. May the Lord send you an army of passionate servants such as you and your wife.

    Reply
  6. Christina Zubko March 30, 2020 at 7:43 am

    I find this “opinion”, while strong in pathos lacks logos. Have you heard about Lang Martinez? Formerly homeless, Lang has written countless articles on what’s going on with the homeless in Port Hueneme/Oxnard. PHPD does have a plan for the homeless. They are offered a bed (the beds are not full, contrary to rumor), and when the refuse shelter, as most do, they are told to move along. Our Cannabis owners demonstrated compassion by buying 100 beds of a shelter in Oxnard. Skunkmaster recently also just gave thousands to the boys/girls club. And now we’re going into a huge contraction economically—do not expect there to be lots of money lying around from small businesses or from taxpayers. Time for the families of these homeless to step up or speak up as to what their challenges have been to help their loved one. I have had a relative who was homeless. He refused help. The law still allows legal adults to refuse help. It’s their right under the Constitution.

    You have rendered your opinion, and I respect it. When you cherry pick the facts, you lose me.

    Reply
  7. Monica Cassidy March 30, 2020 at 1:01 am

    Thank you for the honesty. And after libinh out of state for 15years and returning to the 805, I see the same thing as you. Its so sad. And I do agree, most of the residents blame and expect change from others, but unwilling to lift a finger themselves. I worked with the homeless for almost 8 years in Las Vegas and there is actually more community support in a place called Sin City, than Oxnard or PH. Sad
    Thank you for speaking the truth

    Reply
  8. Naomi Fisher March 30, 2020 at 12:14 am

    Good for you for speaking out! Some of Ventura County cities do a lot to help the Homeless. The last I heard Santa Barbara opens its parks for night sleeping with regular police patrols for safety. In other towns different churches offer hot 4 or 5 course sit down dinners while Lutheran Social Services offer daily free lunches, hot showers and washers and dryers. Because you’re right Individual citizens need to also step forward.
    Unfortunately all the above is still not enough. I had a friend who helped one man by paying for 3 squares a day for almost a year. That man became clean shaven, wore a suit and had a job. His problem was malnutrition. I wish that was the only problem for all Homeless. Then our County would not be overwhelmed.

    Reply
  9. Dianapaula Rodriguez March 29, 2020 at 8:27 pm

    No help for the homeless fraud and cruelty

    Reply
  10. D'Ann March 29, 2020 at 8:11 pm

    Hi my name is D’Ann N, I am 51 and have not ever read a piece on homelessness as put together like you have. You see I used to be homeless, because I left a very disfunctional, abusive, relationship of almost 5.5 years. I have no family, I have 1 sister, though we don’t talk, my mom is gone and no father figure either.
    True, some people enjoy being where they r, other and I could say, well into half… Don’t…
    But once your out there and if your there (homeless), you get stuck.
    It’s the old visious circle.. need a job to get a place, need a place to get a job.. no one usually won’t hire u if you can’t be there with your own transportation, or you look to gruff to catch a break… It sucks being out there, truly ..
    Glory to the King, I’ve been off the streets for 4.5 -5.0 years. Thanks to God and a real good friend whom found it in there lives and hearts to give me a roof over my head and food in my stomach.
    I help when I’m able, I so believe in paying it forward, and apologize when I can’t. But my heart goes out to everyone I see and or read about. Blessings to you and your wife Sir, and thank you for your services you help provide. My only wish is that someone in the sceem if it all READS this post of yours, sees the evil things they have or not participated in or knew of things and refused to try to stop this uglyness.
    We are all human and should do what we can to help the next person.
    Me included.
    Thank you and God Bless everyone… From someone who used to be homeless herself.

    Reply

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