Monday, August 11, 2014

Sanctuary Homeless Camps; Their Failure is in the Details

In Santa Cruz there is again talk of a Sanctuary camp. Like all liberal ideas it sounds good, but the devil is in the details. I wrote this a while ago and it was published in the Santa Cruz Sentential 10/2013.

In 1991 I left my position as a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy and moved to Santa Cruz  where I became a Police officer with the City of Santa Cruz. Not soon afterwards the homeless were allowed to create their own a tent city in the then vacant lot behind the Homeless Resource Center, prior to it's expansion; this was done with the tacit approval of the City Council. There was also talk of zero tolerance to drugs, alcohol and anti-social behavior, but it quickly spiraled down into lawless quagmire. You see it turns out the homeless have more issues than just needing a place to sleep and concentrating people with these issues in one place is a receipt for extreme disorder. One then has to determine who will be responsible for maintaining order in the camp and what authority will they have. 20 years ago those tasked with maintaining order simply could not contend with level of threats and violence so the city police were called numerous time daily. And it wasn't just the human campers, many of the homeless do not exert enough (or sometimes any) control over their pets. Between the human fights, dog fights, drugs and drinking that permeated the camp it was simply impossible to maintain order. Then the rain came and the Homeless Camp became a cesspool of human and animal feces and urine. The City Council finally realized that the Homeless Camp was a complete failure. Their answer? They started busing the homeless to and from local State Parks. The impact on State Park system in Santa Cruz was so unacceptable to State Parks , they had to create a statewide rule that group camping is limited to only 7 nights a year. The history of creating a Homeless Sanctuary Camp does not address any of the numerous issues behind homelessness in Santa Cruz and will probably make the problems even worse .  Remember the words of George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"

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