Editor, Ceres Courier,
I have just read Supervisor DeMartini’s comments, dated March 4, about the homeless problem in Stanislaus County. In all honesty, I felt his comments were very inappropriate and encourages even more of the problems that you seem to be unaware of.
I would ask if he has personally visited any of these camps and talked to the people who live there. No, I am not talking about driving by in your car and making assumptions. I am only talking about actually getting into the trenches and understanding the real problem. The following comment made by you was extremely irresponsible and lacked any real knowledge of the real problem..... You stated, “There’s no consequence for these people. They have the lifestyle they really like. They don’t have to work. They get everything for free. They’re not held accountable for anything that they do and they spend their time shoplifting and panhandling, whatever they can to raise money for their drugs.”
You talk about “fantasy titles” and how our voters have been duped. I am not concerned with Democrats, state attorneys, Proposition 47, etc....because I feel it is getting away from the problem and getting into politics too much. Where do Democrats come into this? So what? I am Republican but I still don’t understand how that has anything to do with it. The concerns still need to be about the homeless and the problem. Proposition 47 talks about the changes in crime penalties but where is this only about homeless? Or are you suggesting that the homeless would be incarcerated if it were not for Proposition 47? Are you saying the answer is to fill up the courts and jails? Help me understand where the homeless come into that. You seem to have some sort of hang up about the politics involved, rather than the people involved.
I have visited the homeless. I have walked through the parks and talked to some of these people, offered them food, water and even an ear. Yes, there are many of them who have no concept of anything other than drugs or crime. I agree with you. However, that is not true for a large percentage of the .and it is disgusting that a supervisor would come up with such a downright uneducated comment.
I am a 64-year-old woman who has never been homeless. My past includes a period of time as a Sheriff’s deputy, previous business owner and I am now a realtor in the area. I do not have a criminal record and consider myself fairly intelligent. Further, I have never had the disadvantage of being spit on, called horrible unfair names, being unfairly judged, beat up, stolen from or kicked when down, as many of these people are. Many of them do not like their lifestyle, nor do they want things for free. I have never experienced what it feels like to have other citizen (such as you) degrade me and judge me because of how I look or for the simple fact that I am just trying to survive. These people are often misunderstood in ways that you will never understand....or in ways that you do not seem to want to understand.
Rather than judge them and humiliate them in the paper, you should take that time and talk to them. You will find that, although there are some who are drug addicts who have no respect for others, you will find just as many who are there by no fault of their own. Further, regarding some of the drug addicts, what came first? Some of them started using because of their situation and their inability to get help. That was their coping mechanism. I am not saying that is right but only speaking a fact. Many have suffered hard times and never could get back on their feet. Many had the good life but lost it for reasons no one cares or knows about. It appears that you are one of those uncaring souls. Many of them are willing and able to work hard if someone would give them a chance. There is proof of that in many instances. Maybe open up your eyes and take a look but until you do so, you will never understand that. Many are good people and programs do help and are needed.
You also talk about the empty beds in the shelters. Okay, again, there are people who drink and use drugs. Yes, that is a problem in those cases but a problem that needs to be dealt with a little more professionally. However, there are others who have pets as their family. With many of these people, their pets are the only thing they have. We all know that a dog’s love in unconditional. With that said, I think it is obvious why they cherish their dog so much. So then we have a homeless person who cannot go into the shelter because of their dog, their only family member and often their only reason to maintain any sobriety. What would you like them to do? Give their dog up? We do not need to fill up the shelters with more dogs because the homeless had to give them up.
Further, have you seen what rents are lately? Maybe the cost of food? Or electricity? Do you really understand the problem as it really is?
I truly do not know all the answers. However, I don’t feel that putting all the homeless under the same umbrella is the answer. That is pure speculation and downright lazy. It is the easy way out for you. My husband and I have tried to understand this homeless problem. We have gone out of our way to do a bit of research into it and have seen things that are heart wrenching. Maybe if you looked a bit harder, you will also see the programs out there....such as Downtown Street Team. I am sure they can disprove much of what you say.
There are better ways of dealing with this and it is not spouting off in such an irresponsible way. We are not saying to anyone that you need to do something now! We are only saying; please do not shut the door on them in such a cruel way. There is more to this issue than you seem to understand. If need be, we will even challenge you to allow people like us to get more involved. Allow us to help, with the support of the county. Allow us to go forward in a constructive helpful way that can ease some of the pressure. We feel there is a better and constructive way than what that news story is portraying.
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