Reader Rant: ‘We Must Do More for the Women and Children Living on Our Streets’

by on April 3, 2019 · 3 comments

in Homelessness, San Diego, Veterans

Are we helping those most in need?

By David Patterson

Kudos to the Alpha Project and Chelsea Investments for their success getting homeless Veterans into apartments as outlined by Gary Warth, UT San Diego, March 31 2019, “Homeless Vets have New home”.

Great work done by all, but now it’s time to prioritize to get an even more vulnerable population off the streets, women and children.

It may sound unbelievable that we have women and children on the streets but it’s true and frequently we at Veterans For Peace encounter these people while handing out sleeping bags.

Over a month’s time I have encountered dozens of unaccompanied women, 2 different women each with 4 young children including toddlers and a young teen aged couple, cold filthy and according to the female, pregnant.  This goes on week after week, month after month with little change in my view.  It’s time that we changed our priorities.

In support of this notion, there is not a method to immediately help these people in need.

For example, if someone we encounter is experiencing a mental health crisis, or is apparently presenting a danger to others, we can call 9-11.  Otherwise there is only a Hot line that is 24-hour recorded and picked up in the morning, when the SD Police go out looking to help.

That’s it for those in need, wholly unacceptable in my view. The women I speak with tell me that they are on the streets because the shelters are full and have been for months.  I ask the reader how would you feel walking away from people like this without anything to offer except a sleeping bag.

As helpful as a sleeping bag sounds one woman told me she wouldn’t crawl into one because then she wouldn’t be able to get away quickly enough.  A reference to her lack of protection as a single woman in such a dangerous environment.  How is this possible that we have no way to help her or the women with children?

There is a way to address this problem, but we need everyone involved to decide that women and children will be the first priority.  That would in my view include:

1. Deploying a small bus every evening to pick-up willing women and children and take them to a special shelter set up specifically for them.  When we encounter women and children that need shelter, we would have a way to call the bus driver and steer them to that location.

2. This bus would have a plain-clothes female police officer and a female Social Worker on board to deal with people that are fearful of authority and accustomed to not being helped by passersby.

3. Rebrand this population as refugees because these people are not all addicts, mentally ill or bums, nor happy to be on the streets.  They are refugees of our economic system where a safety net does not exist in meaningful form.  They are refugees of our lack of mental health care and refugees of a cultural and social fabric breakdown where there are no neighbors that will take them in when things go bad.

This defenseless population cries out for help and the City, County, Alpha Project, Father Joes and everyone else involved must step up to the task to get them off the streets now.  Anything less presents us as less than human beings.

David Patterson is a member of San Diego Veterans For Peace

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Anna M April 3, 2019 at 2:15 pm

The City Concourse is currently housing mostly women and children downtown, until Father Joe’s is remodeled – the new permanent housing facility, the Bridge Shelter supporting homeless families is being relocated in April to 17th & Imperial, East Village. In the interim, the shelter has moved to the Golden Hall at Civic Center Plaza. Learn more on Father Joe’s Facebook page!

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Avatar micporte April 4, 2019 at 4:36 am

women and children are Always the first priority, historically, it goes with the future of humanity, thanks for your thoughts and concerns, Veterans for Peace, Gods bless you all

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Avatar micporte April 4, 2019 at 4:40 am

Women and Children are Always the First Priority, historically it goes with the survival of humanity, thanks for your thoughts and concerns, Veterans for Peace, keep up the endeavors

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