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Not a Crime 


I am getting very tired of listening to the usual discussion on homelessness. Of course the countsz of the homeless are not accurate ("The Numbers are Out and the Jury is In," July 16). Of course the beds in shelters are never enough. Naturally, illegal camps get trashy and upset nearby merchants and residents. None of this is news. We seldom talk about the real problem in America — there is homelessness because there isn't a social safety net to prevent it. And I would also point the finger at treating homes as just another commodity to be speculated on for financial gain.

I might have become homeless myself a few times, but my family always helped. My parents took me back twice and my sister took me in another time, toddler included. It is really immaterial if a person has mental health issues, or can't work, or can't keep a job if they find work, or has a problem with drugs or alcohol, or is just having the most awful run of bad luck. None of this causes homelessness. Millions of other people with the same problems are being taken care of somewhere by their families. Lack of family to take you in — that's the final straw, and rarely your own fault!

It seems like in a more compassionate society we would set up a legal, free place to camp for those unfortunates who need it. The taxpayers should take care of garbage pickup and potties; there is a clear public benefit to doing so. A school bus should stop there and perhaps there should be some other basic services. What is the sense in making criminals out of people who are simply very poor?

To really address homelessness we need to get out of denial about how it ever got so bad. But we can begin now to be kind to our fellow humans.

Karen Shepherd, Arcata

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