When I was a little guy the people that were "homeless" in those days were called "hobos". Here in Grass Valley we hardly had anyone we kids could see who were hobos. Of course my family was a nuclear family, six kids, hardworking Dad and Mom and we kids never thought anything about our "station" in the community. We grew up with a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and food in our stomachs. We grew up mainly is the forested areas where Pop built our houses. Mom and my older sister ran the household and we always had clean clothes and we made our own school lunches.
Luckily for us, not one of us has been homeless including all my cousins. In those days the people we called "retards" were usually odd people that were placed in mental hospitals or "sanatoriums. Hobos were people moving on and mostly males. So around town those that were called "retards" were few and far between. There were no "camps" that I recall and the police and sheriff took those hobos to the county line, free of charge for the drive. Was this a cruel thing to do? Looking back I would say no.
Over the years the hobos and the mentally ill (once called retards) were recognized as a regular citizen with all the regular citizen's Constitutional rights. It may have been the ACLU or a like minded entity that fought for that and they won. Then I recall that people in these mental hospitals and sanatoriums were now able to exercise their "rights" and the reaction across America was to "free" them and close the places housing them. I really did not pay that much attention to all this then as I was raising my own family and working. Social issues were not on my front burner.
So over the years, America and all the government levels down to local were forced to change how they dealt with the mentally ill. Those people living "outside" became a real issue for mostly local government. Americans have been trying to help these people through caring people and organizations like churches and others. Government has tried to help with "services" and food and temporary shelters. We have that right here in Nevada County. But it seems that all this help is for some reason not working very good. Why is that? The local Union Newspaper has a story about the homeless everyday. The homeless population seems to be growing. And it seems the problems associated with the homeless are growing as well. Camps, crimes, sanitation, drugs, addiction and littering issues seem to fill our local police blotter everyday.
Could the issue of "homelessness" be overblown? When Ronald Reagan was President it seemed the press was attacking him daily for the homeless people and writing he must do something now! They said Reagan was a hard hearted man who did not care about their plight. Even though he spent millions of taxpayer dollars addressing the issues he was constantly attacked by the media. (this was a eye opener for me then as to the bias) Even though this money to aid these people was spread all across the country things did not seem to change. Even though thousands of "non-profits" sprung up across the land to "help" these people nothing seemed to get better. And of course after Clinton was elected the media forgot about those homeless people. Same with Obama.
Here we are in 2015 dealing with the same issues. We build shelters, we spend millions for food and other help. We spend a lot of law enforcement money to find and arrest and house the criminal element of this group. Nothing changes we are told, we are supposed to all feel guilty about the level of help the citizens and taxpayers "donate". Nothing changes. Could it be there is a huge number of these people that like to live "outside"? Anyone ask them?
We do our best to help our fellow Americans but maybe there is a part of humanity that does not want that help? If people are unable to care for themselves what are we to do? What is the old saying? "You can lead a horse to water but you can;t make him drink". We can offer thousands of programs and meals and money but without truly understanding the roots of what we perceive as the problem then how do you help to fix it? Do these people share in their own circumstance? Maybe the "authorities" need to do a census of these folks. Interview them. Get their personal input to these questions. Then when we know the real issues perhaps we can craft solutions. What I see is a lot of people and money trying to be good Samaritans without perhaps understanding there might not be a problem? If people want to live outdoors and they have free will, how is it we think that is a problem?
If we can't get over the fact people may not want our help then sure, to be safe, we could build a community shelter somewhere in the county that would hopefully not be contentious. If people want to use it then they must agree to certain rules, sort of a contract. Like a guest register at a hotel. They have free will but like every other citizen they must follow some rules for their own well being and others trying to help. That would be a caring thing right? Maybe some want to be a part of regular society but need help to do that. Maybe not too. So, rather than just feeling guilty, spending money that may not be helping and allowing some to play the system, let's apply our compassion in different ways. My guess the "homeless" have as many different views about their condition as we "home" folks do. So go out there and do a intricate detailed survey of them and let's solve this. But remember, these people have free will and therefore must also exercise personal responsibility.
Oh, and I read today that a Federal Judge said that hundreds of mentally ill illegal aliens must be returned to the USA because their hearings were flawed. This Federal Judge is a prime example of ow this country is headed to the grave.