Blog entry

Homelessness: The Rainy Season is Coming Soon!

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Just saying … The Capital of California, Sacramento, saw lots of rain during the Fall and Winter of 2016-2017. The drought ended, and so did the homelessness under a stretch of highway near Sacramento’s Natomas area.

The Nextdoor, an app that creates online communities so neighbors can speak about their area’s events, seems to light up with complaints about people who are homeless and live in the river beds located in Discovery Park – Interstate Highways 160 and 5 are its borders.

I often drive through this area. I drive through Highway 160 to get to work and to go home. I see more people who are homeless on my way home. Panhandling occurs, with people who are homeless often standing on the median asking for assistance.

I moved from Downtown Sacramento to get away from people who are homeless, as they seemed to congregate around Starbucks, where there was a lot of panhandling due to the low-cost sandwiches and coffee.  At one point people who are homeless were living outside the state buildings. It’s a crisis in full view.

I went from one area of encountering people who are homeless, to another area where I was driving through their homes; camps in Discovery Park. I often say to myself, “Where are the outreach and engagement staff who can get people into services?”.

A story on the Nextdoor app during the rainy season asked the question: “Were we flooding during the very rainy season?”. No, law enforcement was clearing people who are homeless out of Discovery Park using a loud speaker. At points the river was about to be flooded, but not the Natomas area. During those days, we saw a lot of law enforcement helping people who are homeless out of the area so they would not drown. After the clearing, the Nextdoor app showed stories of people walking along the Highway 160 bridge. They spoke about the garbage floating in the water. I could only think about the feces, and hoped that parents and their children would not attempt to swim in the water!

The rain continued, and I saw people who are homeless walking on Highway 5. This highway passes over the Sacramento River and Discovery Park. The people who are homeless were glancing at their flooded homes. I thought how sad and dangerous. The sad part is – acts of nature seemed to be our experts at trying to solve some of the homeless problems!

Today, our Nextdoor app is starting to show stories of people who are homeless returning to the area, as well as accounts of people going into the area to help. Even so, I am still driving through camps. I guess “There is no place like home!” One recent television interview highlighted a story from a person who is homeless and stated, “I can hardly live indoors.” This person’s lived experience perspective is important to understand! The rains will be here soon, and the issues have not been solved.

In several blogs, we will explore:

  1. Comfortable living inside walls?
  2. What other cultures live outside walls?
  3. Is it okay to place Western values of needing to be housed onto people who are homeless and are uncomfortable living inside walls?
  4. The brain, tiny houses, etc.

We want to think about homelessness differently because it’s all about that hope.

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Resource came after writing this blog:

A report prepared by California State University, Sacramento For Sacramento Steps Forward
http://sacramentostepsforward.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/2017_SacPIT_Final.pdf

Other Resources

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
https://www.hhs.gov/programs/social-services/homelessness/research/index.html

Culhane, D. P., Kane, V., & Johnston, M. (2013). Homelessness Research: Shaping Policy and Practice, Now and Into the Future. American Journal of Public Health103(Suppl 2), S181–S182. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3969131/

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