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Abominable Omission 


Homeless people have a life expectancy 25 years less than the rest of us.

Those shortened lives are necessarily consumed with survival: finding or maintaining a place to sleep (or even sit!) which is not discovered by the police, shuffling through free meal lines, scavenging surreptitiously for food. No time to contemplate the miracle of existence.

Statistically, 30 percent of homeless people have mental problems. Fifty percent have substance abuse problems. A full 85 percent have to deal with all the paraphernalia of a chronic disease.

"Reentry" programs are austere and cheerless. "Are there no prisons? No workhouses?" asks Scrooge, in A Christmas Carol. "Many can't go there, and many would rather die," responds the philanthropist.

"They had better do it then, and reduce the surplus population," returns Scrooge.

That is exactly what is happening in the Eureka of the 21st century. I visited some camps in a recent storm, and there will be deaths before the winter is over.

Maybe the NCJ readership is tired of reading about this abomination, which could so easily be resolved with a little warm-hearted cooperation between Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives and the grim city council.

Nevertheless, it deserved at least passing mention in an issue devoted to "Health and Wellness" (Jan. 19).

Ellen Taylor, Petrolia

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