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Dealing with Homelessness in Martinez

Some thoughts on how to deal with homeless issues in Martinez.

Homelessness is something that affects regular citizens, businesses and the city as a whole. The fact is most of us are only a few paychecks from being homeless. In the last year I think the city has changed the way it deals with the homeless, and frankly it's done a pretty good job. The police have done more this last year than most agencies have done in the last five.

I get asked all the time what needs to happen for the homeless to go away. The answer is simply nothing — there always will be homelessness. But the boundaries we set are important.

For one, I would love to see the city do what Concord did in its downtown — no panhandling signs would be great. I get calls all the time about panhandling downtown, so I show up and eight out of 10 times the person isn't even homeless; they have an income like General Assistance or Social Security. Most people don't know this but Martinez has a few board and cares or independent living very close to downtown, even in downtown. I know people have to eat and live but panhandling is so disruptive and makes the homeless look worse than they already do. So my advice is don't give money; buy food or bus tickets. Most of the money handed out is for beer or cigarettes.

The second thing we need to do is educate business owners who leave their dumpsters open or don't have lights up. We need to educate owners on how to be a good neighbor when it comes to homeless issues. Some business owners don't mind it but their neighbor is forced to deal with it because of owners who don't mind homeless in front of their business.

Third, I think we need to educate the liquor stores on the effect of businesses in downtown continuously selling booze to the homeless. I've seen it and it does affect others when a homeless person makes two or three trips for alcohol. Cut them off for downtown's sake.

I know this sounds like I want the homeless gone, too, but what I want is for them to respect the city they live in, and to get services and off the streets. Everyone deserves a home to call their own.  

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Stacey July 12, 2011 at 04:15 AM
Places like Loaves and Fishes should have a "No Service Without Services" policy to discourage those unwilling to seek help from lingering in our community. A few years back, Loaves and Fishes moved temporarily to the church on Susana (the regular church didn't want the homeless around their summer children's bible camp, with good reason). The church on Susana, however, was right across the street from the Early Intervention Preschool at the time, and before the first morning was even half over there had been two medical calls (drunken falls), a man screaming and yelling and urinating in the street, obvious solicitation of prostitution, and police coming and going continually, all in full view of the 3-5 year-olds on the playground. The teachers had to bring the kids in for the rest of the day to avoid any more exposure. It is just wrong to have community resources like parks and trails rendered unusable to families who don't want to expose their kids to these kinds of behaviors.
James July 12, 2011 at 05:17 PM
Douglas, What as a community should we be doing now to help resolve this problem? On Monday night and this morning the small park by the Amtrak station had several homeless people drinking in a circle without the police present. I know you are taking a very active role in trying to solve this problem, you are the best informed to help deal with this problem. My question to you is what as a community should we be doing to help? Do we need to tell the City Council to pass additional ordnances and post signage as you suggested? What else needs to be done? The way that I feel is that the homeless control the problem, that is if I for instance was to start drinking in the park I of course would be arrested and booked, but of a homeless person was to be caught doing the same thing they would just at best have there booze taken away due to the cost the city would incur.
James July 12, 2011 at 05:18 PM
So how I see it the control remains with the homeless, much like a protest. Even if we put them in jail they will cost the community money and just get back on the streets again. Can the city adopt a policy regarding the homeless? Such as a partnership with a non-profit to offer some kind of work incentive/ clean and sober program in exchange for room and board or if not they are escorted out of the city. The thing is that I don’t want to burden the other cities with this problem so what are some realistic things we can do? It’s getting pretty bad man and I would like to see the city get cleaned up a bit. Thanks for your efforts!
Douglas Stewart July 13, 2011 at 08:32 PM
James Great comments We have non profits already in our county that have work incentives even will help with resumes ,clothes ,etc .Another agency called me the yesterday and told that they will a zero tolerance policy in certain areas of this city I was to let the homeless know that in the area,Like I said I think if your not getting help your a problem I am quick to let the PD know the best thing you can do if your having a constant issue in your area IS call the police so the problem is documented if the police see that I could help they'll call me if not then they can give citations or jail with a strong warning not to return
Douglas Stewart July 13, 2011 at 08:36 PM
I really believe that the homeless go were things are easy and they can get things easy we need to get our liquior stores not to sell alcohol to them more once a day and and we need to educate business owners in the downtown area how to deal with the homeless community

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