We write because of your apparent interest in and past stories on our local homeless population here in the East Bay.
You have chronicled some of the more egregious instances of abuse by the resident homeless against our neighbors here in Walnut Creek and elsewhere in our region, and we agree that the problem appears to be growing both in scope and severity – to the point where we worry that a potentially harmful confrontation between the homeless and those they live amongst is increasingly likely.
In recent weeks neighbors have found people apparently between homes attempting to camp in pool houses, work sheds and outbuildings – in a couple of cases even in the cars of people so unaware as to leave their vehicles unlocked. While we remain sensitive to the need for shelter EVERY ONE OF US so obviously shares we are also seeing and hearing a growing resentment expressed for a transient population that has taken to verbally assaulting others and demanding use of the property of others. We have seen the homeless scream in the faces of those who don’t give them money and use our public spaces as personal toilets.
We do not think this situation can or should be allowed to continue. We also do not believe homeless people can be arrested into conducting themselves with civility or into securing a decent place to live. We do, however, think that we as a caring country can provide areas with basic shelter for those needing a roof and a shower and basic but essential services. We do not think opening an armory and providing beds for people who have proven their dislike for such an arrangement should be the only alternative for those needing shelter during harsh winter months.
We believe some basic, individual shelters can be made available for small groups of people allowed to live there as long as they keep the area up, receive job and psychological counseling if needed, and display a desire to make a life for themselves. We do not believe allowing people to defile sidewalks and other public spaces can be allowed to continue much longer. Some cities, we have noted, have taken a hard position relative to “encampments” or “squats” where transient populations have been allowed to set up and grow. This approach should be continued, public lands reclaimed, and basic shelter and medical care provided for those in need. The cost of the temporary structures, some of which this site has pictured in the past, would be negligible compared to what we are paying into the problem now.
Syd and Marguerite Petersen