“He had managed to keep his brain intact and alert, and so nothing could make him succumb to poverty. He might be ragged and cold, or even starving, but so long as he could read, think and watch meteors, he was, as he said, free in his own mind.” -George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London
As I drive through San Diego on my commute to work there are locations where I am certain to see homeless. Some are camping out, setting up a safe spot on the side of the road or those areas between onramps where the ice plants grow wild and the San Diego Police rarely patrol. Others are brazenly loitering among various locations downtown until the Homeless Outreach Teams educates them on the services available to them.
When you walk by homeless you try to avoid staring, but then you also feel as though ignoring them completely is more ignoble. The homeless in San Diego are predominately located near downtown where most of the City resources are available to them. Yet, I still see an occasional homeless couple camping in a suburban area, illegally, in the ice plants off the 805 South and Palm Ave exit. For most of us, we’ll never know the horrors of poverty and homelessness except from books, movies and television, but that does not mean we ignore the problem. There is a civil duty to ensure the homeless have resources available in hopes of eventually lifting one out of poverty; a task that is easier said than done.
San Diego has various organizations whose goal is to help the homeless in hopes of making it a transitory state. Cortez Hill Family Center offers families 90-days lodging and also access to counselors and programs to help you find a home before the 90 days are up. Father Joe’s offers short-term and long-term lodging for families and single men and women as well as classes and workshops. The Neil Good Day Center is a place where homeless can learn about benefits entitled to them, legal matters, or medical and counseling services. Another center that operate during the day is, God’s extended Hand, who offers free meals and spiritual counseling.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, “Only a concerted effort to ensure jobs that pay a living wage, adequate support for those who cannot work, affordable housing, and access to health care will bring an end to homelessness.” In other words, the economy needs to be stable in order to battle the homeless problem. Some economist might argue that this is not possible and that a certain level of unemployment is natural in a normal functioning economy. It’s good to know that while economist ponder this theory and politicians argue over limited resources; the City continues to offer services to help others in a time of need.