Enough resources are available to eliminate homelessness in Stanislaus County. The barriers to elimination include lack of coordination of resources, failure of the homeless to cooperate, and an ongoing influx of homeless people attracted by the very resources that are being misallocated.
Consider all of the available resources to aid the homeless: Social programs like Welfare, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability, Medicaid, Section 8 Housing, job training, and drug and alcohol treatment programs constitute significant resources. In the private sector, the Modesto Union Gospel Mission, the Salvation Army, local churches, and United Way provide many opportunities for assistance. Citizens often engage in charitable acts of giving money or food.
All these programs and resources represent an abundance of resources. However, the only coordination comes from county social workers whose caseloads and operating procedures do not enable optimum allocation of public and private resources. All aid providers need to come together and build one program.
Social workers need to find out why each person is homeless in order to assess what resources are needed and they can be best deployed. Unfortunately, if the homeless person doesn’t cooperate, help is still available somewhere in the system.
Failure to Cooperate
Many homeless individuals have been without a place to live for a long time. In many cases, this is a lifestyle choice caused by addiction to drugs and alcohol. The present system enables those engaged in substance abuse to sustain the lifestyle. For example, many homeless people will refuse certain kinds of aid because they don’t want to adhere to the condition that they change their lifestyle. They can refuse the aid because they know that another type of aid is available.
If all service providers to the homeless conditioned aid based on a clean and sober lifestyle and aid were denied to those who did not cooperate, those who declined would probably move out of the area. Cooperation can only be garnered is if all service providers, including those providing free food, combine resources to control delivery of assistance.
Providing needle exchanges enables addiction. Confiscation of needles and drugs encourages cooperation in treatment. Confiscation of alcohol and drugs found with homeless people in the parks would force some to go without or encourage them to move to a community that will enable their habit.
Evaluating Homeless People
Any help provided needs to be customized based on specific circumstances of the homeless person. Each homeless person has his or her own story. A number of possible reasons exist for the lack of a home and the resources required to address the problem are different for each individual. Here are a few examples.
A person may be homeless for economic reasons: he or she lost a job and lost the home. Or the family shattered due to divorce or spousal abuse. The solution has a number of possibilities that can be assessed by a social worker. Some people may be able to reunite with distant family members if he they are given a loan for travel. Maybe they can be provided temporary housing until they find jobs.
A person may be homeless for physical reasons: Perhaps he injured his back and can’t work. Can an inexpensive room in a private home provide the link to self-sufficiency? The community presently has a number of empty houses. Can any of them be purchased, rehabilitated, and used to provide temporary housing for people who may qualify for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income?
A person may be homeless for mental reasons. There are many different treatment and housing programs to assist people who are homeless for mental reasons. They can be channeled to treatment. If they decline, then deny them other support until they cooperate. Perhaps reunification with relatives is possible—this solution should be considered in every case as the family is the basic social unit.
A person may be homeless due to substance abuse. Tough love is the best cure for this problem. Any help other than treatment enables the addict to continue his habit. He will not seek treatment until he hits bottom. Bottom is hit when the drugs and alcohol are no longer available. Under no circumstances should resources be used to provide drugs or alcohol, yet this is a commonplace event in the world of aid to the homeless. Giving cash to a panhandler prolongs addiction.
Resource Providers Need to Work Together
Programs in the public and private sectors need to be integrated to eliminate duplication and overlap. Each homeless person needs a case manager to establish need and find solutions. The present disorganized system attracts homeless people to Stanislaus County because they know we provide numerous benefits without any requirement for self-help. We need to quit giving food out in the parks and money to panhandlers. We need to stop allowing homeless encampments that spread pestilence on the countryside.
I once asked a homeless man from Missouri why he came to Modesto. He replied that Modesto is known around the country as the most generous provider of benefits anywhere with no strings attached. Until we become better organized and make more efficient use of resources, our programs will continue to attract homeless people. Throwing money at a problem does not solve it. Using available money effectively will solve the problem.
Emerson Drake says
I’m sorry but needle exchange does NOT enable addiction. And as for the claim of Modesto being “known around the county” it’s just ludicrous.
Eric Caine says
Actually, some places do become known for availability of services. San Francisco under Willie Brown was a homeless magnet
Louis David Vierra says
Hello. I have been doing drugs since early 2000’s. I have done nearly all of the popular ones, been addicted to heroin and coke.. I WAS a heroin addict for nearly 7 years. I got help at Aegis and i’ve now been opiate, and methadone, free since 2012.. I have hit bottom many times in the past. So know that this comes from experience when i say, the bottom has little to nothing to do with the availability of drugs, alcohol or the tools to use these drugs. The bottom isn’t about the drug itself nor is it about the lack of or abundance of it.. The bottom is a time of extreme self reflection, an awakening and acknowledgment that one has become hopeless, helpless and in dire need of change. This is the point when a person gains the strength to reach out for help and a time when the person can and will actually help themselves to fix their problem and change their lives for the better.. A person who simply seeks help due to the lack of availability will continue using again once that lack is no more. This is not rock bottom, this is what drug addicts do, it’s simply part of the cycle.. I have not met one person in all these years who has ever gotten clean because the drug was too hard to get.. If theres one who needs something, there will always be another who is happy to provide it, no matter the cost, no matter the punishment..
Punishing ppl for these things is only forcing them deeper underground, into deeper homelessness and depression.. It has not nor will it ever help in actually helping these ppl change their lives for the better. Needle exchanges, heroin clinics, safe injection sites, THESE THINGS DO NOT ENCOURAGE DRUG USE NOR ARE THEY ENABLERS.. These things should be considered as valuable as a methadone clinic.. These areas are prime real estate for workers to interact with and create a report with homeless addicts. A place where trust can be established and the focus can shift from punishment, persecution and detention, to more constructive things, such as, rehabilitation, reintegration (a job, a home, purpose) and ultimately to be drug free.. A person who uses drugs and is outcast, punished, persecuted and humiliated for doing so and/or for being homeless, will not only continue to use drugs to dull the pains from these treatments by their fellow friends, family and community, but they will slip ever deeper into use and may never recover.. And why would they, nobody cares about them, everyone seemingly just wants to put them in jail, run them out of town and sweep them under a rug and pretend that they don’t exist.. I’m sure am not the first nor will i be the last to tell you that in order to solve a problem, we must first acknowledge that one exists, then take steps to slowly solve the problem.. most if not all the steps that are taken in this country will not solve the problem. sure there are exceptions, but it is ludicris to take those exceptions as the norm.. Same as it is to put these ppl in jai; simply because they have no home and no job.. same as it is to deny them a place to be safe from fear of persecution and punishment for simply doing what most ppl do every single day when they get home, relax with the drug of their choice and dull the days pain. I fail to understand what makes you think that the legality of anything will discourage it from being used. Where have you been your entire life? If you are new here, to this planet, i welcome you. You and ppl who think they way that you do are sadly mistaken.. If reality was the way you perceive it to be, there would be no speeders, no murderers, no thieves and no need for massive police forces. punishment and persecution only makes something more lucrative and appealing. I hold a firm belief that had drugs never been made illegal, we would never have had this big of problem to begin with.. Alcohol prohibition did nothing to stop its consumption, it had the opposite effect. more people were drawn it, many of whom may never have used it had it not been made illegal.. We have got to do something alright, it’s high time we speak up and open the minds and eyes of the people in this world who think and believe the things such as you do.. I am not trying to belittle you here, I respect you as a person. I am simply telling you that i know from experience that your ways of thinking, ways of trying to solve these problems have not nor will they ever work. they will only make the situation worse and will further compound the public health problem..
I suggest you do a little research into the many different ways other country around the world are actually solving both homelessness and drug abuse.. And they are, very much so.. Not by these means, but by opening heroin clinics, needle exchanges, decriminaization across the board, abolishing this stupid drug free workplace that is the defining factor in keeping drug users from having a job in the first place which is stupid because a person has to survive somehow and how do you expect them to do so, without using nefarious means, if you do not allow them to respectively earn money themsleves, and many other wonderful ideas that go against the conventional means used here in this country. I am by no means saying that we should allow jack or jill to shoot up heroin at work while in the bathroom on break, especially if they are needing to handle dangerous equipment and whatnot. i am not saying that we should let people get all spun out and fix our cars, our roads, build our houses and teach our children or drive truck.. what i am saying is that if these people who have such jobs decide to get high on their time while in their own home and are sober, alert and respectable, like a normal person, then what is it any of yours or anybody elses business…
There’s so much i can say here, so many different points and paths i can continue down, so many examples i can provide for proof of these points.. But i am tired and this whole drug and homelessness issue has become the same.. It will continue and will only get worse unless those at the top as well as those who hold these beliefs expressed within your acrticle take some time to acquiant yourselves with reality and step outside the box, free yourselves from your contrained and carefully crafted and utterly false views. Because the reality is, punishment does not discourage one to stop, it simply forces one to continue in the shadows. providing needles doesn’t enable use, it encourages sanitary practices which make the community safer and healthier while introducing compassion and building trust and paving the way to become drug free.. I beg You all to stop and think about this. Your ways have been the standard for decades, that said, has anything gotten better, have the streets been needle free, have the homeless shelters been emptied and the soups kitchen lines, have they disappeared.. or has all this grown to epidemic propurtions.. If your way was the correct course of action, dear, then we would not be in the stuation we find ourselves in today.. i promise you this. please do yourself and your fellow man a favor.. i dare you to take risks and defy conventional norms which obviously are very flawed.. Something that is broken can never be fixed by continuing to do that which broke it. A propsed solution that fails to fix a problem creates insight and motivation towards finding a solution which will work, however if a solution which does not solve the problem, makes the problem worse or at best has no effect, yet is still perceived as the solution to the problem despite it’s failures, becomes a bigger problem than that which it was designed to solve..