Homeless in Santa Cruz CA — Why? Largely just economic, a slip on a banana peel? Or are people homeless due to lots of inter-related issues with use of illegal drugs interwoven? Your experience?
From government statistics: Roughly 40% surveyed report at least one or more serious health conditions: drugs/alcohol; psychotic/emotional; post traumatic stress disorder, physically disabled and chronic health conditions. Such are the statistics.
It’s one thing to report and another thing as to what the real problems are. Surveys are simply what people choose to report.
Per government survey, roughly the same percentage of homeless persons look for work (43%) compared with those who report they are unable to work (43%). These figures are from Santa Cruz County data.
A different viewpoint expressed recently by homeless advocate Jon Showalter: He said in a talk that 60% of local homeless are “economic refugees” who “slipped on a banana peel” and lost their social network. We need to know them human to human Showalter emphasized.
It’s 60% economic to 40% other (mental illness/ drug and alcohol) states homeless advocate Jon Showalter who spoke to 50+ women in Aptos,CA at Resurrection Catholic Community 3/18/19.
Showwalter is President of the Board for the Association of Faith Communities (AFC) and member of St. John’s Episcopal church in Aptos, CA. The AFC meets monthly at Calvary Episcopal church in Santa Cruz, CA and has 11 representatives of largely north Santa Cruz faith organizations including Buddhist, Hindu and Christian.
Following Showalter’s presentation, Pat Lorenzo of Resurrection Catholic Community updated attendees concerning other programs currently in place through mid-county churches which assist homeless persons with meals, shelter, showers, socks and other services. The collect Socks program will continue says Pat Lorenzo who applied for ,and received, three or four thousand pairs of socks in December, 2018. Those socks have been dispersed throughout Santa Cruz County Lorenzo said.
New long term sheltering program: Showalter states that a new sheltering program starts 3/18/19 at St. John’s Episcopal in Aptos, CA. Occupants of 3 cars will shelter long term in the parking lot of the church. One car/person has been doing so for several months. Persons in the new sheltering program will be vetted through the Association of Faith Communities states Showalter.
Not in my backyard issues:
Whether or how the nearby housing project — located adjacent on two sides to St. John’s Episcopal church in Aptos, CA — was contacted concerning the long term sheltering program was not discussed by Showalter at the Guild meeting nor in recent email sent by the Rector, Mtr Tracy, to St. John’s Episcopal congregation. At the Guild meeting an attendee discussed how a successful Catholic church sheltering program — located next to a school — managed the “not in my backyard issues”. Ongoing communication, sharing meals with the parish and a 6 am leave the premises each day were central rules she said.
Comment by Aptos Psychologist:
Are people homeless in Santa Cruz mainly due to “a slip on a banana peel”? Mostly an economic issue and only somewhat a mental health/ drug issue? Nope. Why the multitude of needles on the beaches? Why the feces and urine smells in downtown Santa Cruz? Why the encampment of 100+ unauthorized tents at the entrance to Santa Cruz, CA. Why do young mothers not take small children to Santa Cruz parks?
Reality: It’s probably the reverse — 80+ percent drug/ alcohol/ mental illness and 20 percent economic.
What do statistics say?
Take Away : The numbers show an overall decrease in homeless persons comparing numbers first collected (2005) to the latest numbers (2017). There were about 3,400 homeless in 2005 — and 12 years later — about 2,200 in 2017.
For communities to receive federal grant money for homeless issues those communities must count homeless persons every two years. Communities use the Point in Time method of counting.
Statistics collected by Applied Survey Research show that in 2005 there were 3,371 homeless and 8 years later in 2013 — the high point — there were 3,536. In 2015 the number was 1,964 and in 2017 it was 2,249.The statistics listed above can be found via United Way and from Santa Cruz County.
One size shoe does not fit all:
There’s a fairly new federal law that cities cannot displace homeless unless they provide a bed/ place for them. New York City shelters almost all of their homeless. California provides services to 1/3 of all the homeless in the U.S. — must be the weather and beaches? — and roughly 70% of the homeless are not sheltered. Thus we see encampments of homeless tents at the entrance to Santa Cruz, CA.
What say you? The government — and religious faith organizations — should provide long term house / housing space for all?
written by Cameron Jackson
Monerey Bay Forum
Fax: 831 688 7717