Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Change the Homeless, and You'll Change How Many are Homeless

   Deseret News columnist Jay Evensen has suggested we need to understand why the homeless problem is growing if we are to solve it. I've wondered if the legislation the state passed keeping drug offenders out of prison is one of the reasons homelessness has increased. The time frame on not sending so many to jail for drugs does match the time frame of the homeless population booming. If you do not house them in your jails, where are they going to be? We can see many of the homeless are on drugs and alcohol, so it makes sense if the prison housing goes down, the Rio Grande population goes up.
  Evensen also speaks of the criminal element preying on the homeless. That would include the drug pushers, since they find a ready market in the homeless. I don't know where the homeless get the money for drugs, but I would guess they do.
  So, what should we do? I don't know, and it is late and I need to go to bed. Do we return to sending them to prison? What about John Florez's solution? Off top, I tend to like it. Evensen says that before Florez died, he spoke of "therapeutic villages" for the homeless, providing not just beds, but work opportunities, education and training. Florez wanted to instill the homeless with self esteem. I laud his solution. If you want them to no longer be homeless, you need to lead them out, and that means showing and helping them become the type of people who are employed, who have interests and hobbies other than drinking and drifting.
   Change who the homeless are, and you'll see change in how many homeless there are.

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