Homelessness in Redlands

 Art: Rita Valente

Art: Rita Valente

Voters in Redlands are concerned about the increasing number of our neighbors who are living homeless in our town. Homelessness has been increasing and the way the city has responded is lacking in long term solutions. They support the Police Department’s “Positive Change, Not Spare Change” while acknowledging that that we have few long-term solutions to address the problem. 

Homelessness is an economic issue. 

I laud the local charity groups and homeless services in the area, but one thing they are not set up to address is immediate need and that is permanent housing. That’s why I am a firm supporter of Housing First. Housing First means that our priority is to offer unconditional support for our struggling neighbors by first and foremost providing at little or no cost a place to live. A program like this could be funded via an HUD grant or perhaps a special fund is budgeted on the city level. Because housing may not be available immediately it is important to build and maintain emergency shelters and places of refuge or drop in centers. What is crucial here is that they offer complete barrier-free access and serve as a gateway to health care, social services and even provide access to something as simple as a shower. 

More policing is not the answer.

Finally, we must stop using the Police as a way to address homelessness. Submitting people without a home to the criminal justice system is not an effective response to this problem.  I would rather see mental health professionals engaged in local drop in centers address public issues and homelessness activists operate community outreach. 

 

With the right political will I know that we can reduce and work towards total elimination of homelessness in our town. 

Eric Whedbee