Make no mistake, as regular citizens are battling the pollution, crime and illness brought down like a firestorm upon various communities due to the homelessness epidemic, there are businesses profiting from our tragedy and from theirs.
While unscrupulous individuals are fortifying their bank accounts, homeowners are suffering losses on their biggest investment and many transients are becoming more entitled and destructive.
Logistically speaking, approximately 10 percent of homeless individuals are veterans. The majority of homeless are people who suffer from mental illness and those who engage in substance abuse and there is of course, crossover between those categories.
It is estimated that more than half of the transient population have criminal records. Accounts of crimes committed by transients are buried online but get creative with your Google search and the results are alarming.
Also alarming are the warming fires built in the brush and directly on floorboards in empty buildings. In case you haven’t noticed, California is a tinderbox.
For some reason fires known to have originated by transients are also difficult to locate online but there are numerous incidents on record when you change up key words for a search.
Cal Fire recently responded to several small fires in Placer County that were ignited by transient individuals illegally camping in the foothills. The individual arrested is suspected of starting two fires northeast of Colfax.
Such fires are put out by crews all over Lassen County on a regular basis. It has been difficult to ascertain an actual number on just how many. Until recently there hasn’t been a category for fire origin to specify transient caused fires.
The criminal portion of the transient population has been estimated at more than half. This begs the question as to why we are so committed as a society to providing nurturing solutions for the entire population of homeless at the expense of communities and families.
According to political and financial analyst, Edward Ring, “ … developers accept public money to build projects to house the homeless, cities and counties collect outrageously expensive building fees and create a massive bureaucracy with executive salaries.”
“Because,” Ring states, “there is a Homeless Industrial Complex that is getting filthy rich and wasting money while the homeless population swells.”
Consider this: The Los Angeles City Council has approved a 154-bed shelter at an initial estimation of $8 million. At this rate their proposed solution would cost $48 million to house the thousand plus homeless in Venice Beach.
Curiously, it is estimated that if the proposed site were sold to private investors it stands to net as much as $100 million dollars or more. The choice to use the property in a less profitable manner to house such a tiny percentage of homeless persons presents a looming mystery.
Other suspicious activities according to Ring are “homeless advocates” who are bussed in to council meetings from other areas for the specific purpose of shouting down local opposition, with their cry of “no one deserves to live on the streets.” Someone, somewhere is very motivated to keep the dollars flowing.
An organization called Picture the Homeless has this to say on the subject, “The city’s share of homeless shelter spending will top $1.8 billion. With so much money moving around, it’s clear that homelessness is “big business” in NYC — but if the system is bad for the budget, bad for homeless people, and bad for neighborhoods, who exactly is profiting?”
Who indeed? Not the taxpayers or homeowners and certainly not the homeless themselves as the problem is increasing in scope.
Know This: there are web sites for friends and family to recommend certain locations to their nomadic acquaintances –– transient friendly towns. Many factors are rated and word spreads fast. “If you build it they will come,” isn’t just a line from a movie. Lassen County has an entire menu of resources and there is ample help for those who actively seek to improve their lives. The tools are already here. We do not need more services for the homeless.
Admittedly, I don’t have all the answers but I do know that I don’t want to live in a town where I’m afraid to walk the trails because mentally ill or drug addled individuals are armed with weapons. Susan River has been such a part of my life and yet I will likely never again wade in its streams or eat a fish caught from its banks.
My home is not the refuge it once was for me. Somewhere along the way, decisions were made to make Susanville a refuge for individuals who are not invested in our community –– people who use and take and destroy; people whose bad behavior is protected under the label of homelessness. As we look for solutions, I hope and pray they will be centered on restoring our community and protecting our resources.