WILLIAM BROOKS, San Clemente
I feel as if I live in a parallel universe when it comes to homelessness in San Clemente. When I observe homeless individuals, I see many drunk in public, passed out, talking to themselves, and/or yelling at anyone that happens by.
To me, it is clear that the majority of these people suffer from addiction issues and/or mental health diseases.
Homeless activists like Kathy Esfahani, Ken Doss, and Rona Henry state that homelessness is caused by lack of affordable housing. This is not what I observe, so it would be helpful to have numbers such as what percentage of people experiencing homelessness are working but cannot afford housing, what percentage are drug/alcohol-addicted, and what percentage are mentally ill?
People who are experiencing addiction and/or mental health issues have to want to help themselves. Often, they have to hit rock-bottom before they will seek help.
Part of the reason they are homeless is because their families have abandoned them in an effort to help them see the need for treatment. Housing drug-addicted or mentally ill people doesn’t solve the problem—it just moves it indoors.
To be compassionate, we need to have no-cost treatment services readily available, while our city laws make it as difficult as possible for someone to drop out from society and live on the street.
As citizens, we should avoid feeding or giving cash to our neighbors experiencing homelessness. This is a tough-love approach, and in the long run, it will help to begin to solve this problem.