As our community seeks to resolve issues surrounding the homeless dilemma, I encourage everyone to research proposed solutions. Because things are not always as they seem. For example, the issue of homelessness is often blamed on the rising cost of housing.
Meet San Francisco’s poster child for this argument: Megan Sue Belafonte.
Mrs. Belafonte is repeatedly painted as a sympathetic figure who lost her home as a result of foreclosure and found herself living on the streets of San Francisco.
A brief internet search listed her story featured in three different news sources for 2016 as well as a CNN interview just last month.
The CNN news clip states that she lost her house after her husband was diagnosed with cancer and his illness drained their savings.
Belafonte adds that she landed on the street due to “not having enough money for first and last month’s rent or a down payment.”
However, I located a profile on Belafonte in an obscure church newsletter which states, “Megan Sue is originally from the East. She and her husband traveled with carnivals and operated a food wagon.”
One learns from the same source that Belafonte is described as, “deciding to move to San Francisco where upon her arrival she, “learned that rent was more expensive than she thought.”
Note that Belafonte lived back east at the time. And THEN decided to move to San Francisco – the second most expensive city in the United States – in 2016 with just her car and some cash.
Really, there are so many things wrong with this scenario it is difficult to know where to begin. Suffice it to say, a scenario where she doesn’t end up homeless is not on the list.
Still, her dilemma is used as fodder for political rhetoric and as proof that rising housing costs in California are putting people on the streets.
Additionally, Belafonte is touted as having established three nonprofits. The most recent one is called Open Heart. Open Heart was approved for a nonprofit status only one day after application.
My efforts to locate information about Open Heart resulted in just one Google hit with two reviews: One five-star review was entered on May 2018 by none other than Megan Sue Belafonte. The other review states simply, “fraudulent foundation.”
Belafonte is listed as having lived in a tent, a shelter and a broken down RV during her first six months after arriving in San Francisco and homeless advocates would have you believe that it is because hard working taxpayers have not directed enough funds to providing options for the homeless.
How many Lassen County residents could expect to afford housing in San Francisco even after liquidating their assets including retirement funds? If choosing where we get to live is a basic human right, please just sign me up for Bora Bora, already!
Ask yourself, if the homeless epidemic is due to rising housing costs (and student loans another favored fable), why is it so difficult to locate an authentic homeless person who is actually a victim of circumstances outside of their control — circumstances which our society has supposedly imposed upon them and that all working citizens are called upon to rectify?
Consider why so many are reticent to speak out about the trespass and destruction transients have wreaked in our neighborhoods and against our natural resources. Could it be because those who express concern are labeled insensitive?
It’s ironic that a dissenting opinion about throwing money and resources at a problem that cannot be solved with more money and resources will net the questioning party a barrage of exactly what they are being accused of: Hate.
Help me get this right. If an individual chooses to defecate in our rivers and pollute its banks while setting illegal fires in the brush, they are deserving of the utmost compassion and consideration from society?
Conversely, if a hard-working citizen who is taking responsibility for their own needs while vying to provide food, shelter and medical care for a vulnerable segment of society — aka youth — dares to question the use of their tax dollars, that individual is deemed the bane of society?
These certainly seem to be the attitudes that are trending now. If I’m wrong, I invite those Lassen County residents, who question the wisdom of becoming the stomping ground for a disproportionate number of vagrants, to speak up. Decisions are being made that affect the future of our town and the quality of life in Susanville, and our reality is about to change.
The proposed plan is designed to make life better for the transient population, but while we endeavor to make Susanville a place where vagrants can live in comfort, will it still be a safe and inviting haven for families?