Friends and neighbors,
It’s not an election year but I wanted to reach out and give you an update on the work to address the homeless and addiction crisis that is ruining so many lives and resulting in unprecedented property crime and hazards to our communities.
The approach to meeting head-on the challenge of the homeless crisis, requires the “three Cs”:
Clear-eyed policies. Compassion. Consequences.
First, our policies must be Clear-eyed. Not all homeless are the same. One segment are the newly homeless, perhaps because of a life crisis: unemployment, fleeing an abusive relationship, a serious health crisis and mounting health care bills, etc. We need strategies to get this segment quickly into stable housing. Another segment of homeless are those suffering a serious mental illness and need special housing. While another are those addicted to drugs and resist services in order to maintain their independence. Finally, another group are drug dealers and human traffickers who prey on homeless addicts and the vulnerable. Different strategies to address different categories of homeless segments. We must resist the simplistic approach that lumps them all together as “homeless.”
Second, we need Compassion. Services must be ready and available when the mentally ill and addicted are offered help and accept that help. We need better housing designed around their unique challenges, and better inpatient and community interventions.
Third, there must be Consequences for those who consistently refuse services and shelter because, in their impaired state of mind, they prefer the independence of living on their own or in encampments. If these were your adult children, you would insist that the government do all that it could to get them off the streets, away from the predators who sell them drugs. That may mean allowing the criminal justice system to impose consequences as an incentive for them to agree to accept help.
I also helped bring a new mental health facility for veterans and their families. It opened in March and sees clients regardless of ability to pay or discharge status.
Results. I am helping to bring new services to our region. I am leading a team, and obtained funding, to open a new crisis facility for the mentally ill and addicted. Think of it as an ER for those who are suicidal, or suffering from other mental health conditions or substance abuse disorder. It will open next year and see 2,000 patients a year!
I am also heading up a taskforce to close and clean up the 33 unauthorized encampments in Pierce County.
The homeless crisis can be fixed! But our policies must be clear-eyed, offer compassionate care, while bringing consequences to bear on the chronically addicted who are ruining their lives, squandering their human potential, and undermining our sense of security in our own homes and neighborhoods.
P.S. Please feel free to contact me personally on my cell phone at (253) 312-1688 or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.