POLITICAL PAPIST COLUMNIST
For several years now, the Golden State’s number of homeless residents has been under scrutiny. The issue stole the limelight even more than usual when President Donald J. Trump decried Los Angeles’ and San Francisco’s political leaders for the awful conditions and threatened to send federal government intervention if the problem isn’t solved.
And by awful conditions, I mean the literal plague. The amount of human waste, mixed with the company of rats, made perfect conditions for the medieval disease, conditions which are similarly matched today. In addition, acts of violence, flesh-eating bacteria, high drug use and more incited the United Nations to compare San Francisco, for example, to third-world slums.
According to some psychiatrists and volunteers who work with the homeless in California, the number of people who are simply down on their luck is significantly outmatched by the number of people who have drug problems or mental health issues. Thus, three big factors in the current problem are drug use, mental health issues and lack of proper care for such, and inadequate or inappropriate political action.
How can these be reformed?
Some have argued that the lack of asylums for mentally ill patients means they have no choice but to live on the street, and they believe reforms in the mental health community are vital. Perhaps reinstituting asylums with proper, modern healthcare could make a difference there.
Since drug use is no longer a dealbreaker for some housing unit renters, the problem with drug use continues without a proper solution. Rehabilitation outreaches, as well as community campaigns for healthy lifestyle choices, may positively impact lives.
Political action is certainly insufficient. It’s simply not right when police forces have to step in and remove people from the streets, placing them in jail instead of getting them proper help. Nor is it right to do nothing and simply let them suffer without basic commodities. Lawmakers and representatives need to listen to their constituents and make actually helpful policies.
Despite all the negative news, some good has been, and is still being, accomplished.
For example, organizations like PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) make a difference in California. PATH, a Christian organization that started in 1983 with 60 people giving meals and clothes to the homeless, now also helps people find permanent housing and access to rehab (important), mental health care (vital) and employment training (impactful). They’ve assisted around 8,500 people who now have “made it home.”
Another example are Catholic charities such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which has found permanent housing for about 300 Los Angeles residents. Their shelters, like PATH’s, are sustainable and long-term. The local communities, involving men, women and children of different religions, band together to provide the home materials needed.
My friends, I encourage you to foster charity in your hearts. Grassroots organizations that prompt and provide real reforms are started by concerned citizens and can make huge impacts on the poor and suffering in any community.
St. Teresa of Calcutta once said that people don’t need to go to India to find the poor, but that the poor are in our own communities. I agree, and I urge you to seek ways to assist those in your communities who need it most through the charity of your hearts.