The most effective way to help the homeless is to first acknowledge that they have proven they are unable to help themselves, and conduct periodic sweeps by police, accompanied by homeless service providers, to mandate people move into whatever type of programs are required.
To continue to feed and provide support services for the homeless to remain homeless is cruelty disguised as compassion, a huge waste of money, and a great disservice to the community who has to deal with the trash, crime, and aggressive panhandling characteristic of the homeless community.
Tough love is certainly the answer.
Homeless tally: A wake-up call
Volunteers help conduct a one-night survey to support county services.
By Jocelyn Wiener - firstname.lastname@example.org
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, January 31, 2008
The volunteers shone flashlights into car windows steamed by the breath of sleeping occupants. They called out to figures huddled in thin sleeping bags, and approached shabby shelters cobbled together from tarps and old blankets.
"It's the homeless survey," Sacramento Police Officer Mark Zoulas called out.
"A survey? At this time of night?" one tent dweller called back, incredulous.
For volunteers and homeless both, Tuesday evening was filled with awakenings.
For Bruce Wagstaff, the director of the county agency that oversees most county-run homeless services, the night would prove particularly illuminating. This year, for the first time, he joined Officer Zoulas and other volunteers in tallying and surveying the county's homeless.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires counties to conduct a "point-in-time" survey every other January, as a condition of receiving federal money for housing and homeless programs. The county Department of Human Assistance, which Wagstaff runs, receives some $13.5 million annually from HUD.
Last year, volunteers tallied some 1,005 individuals living on the streets of Sacramento, with an additional 1,447 in shelters and transitional programs. County officials decided to gather data again this year to help supplement the city and county's 16-month-old 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness.