Homelessness in Healdsburg
EDITOR: While I am pleased that the Healdsburg Police Department addressed the situation of homelessness in the Healdsburg Tribune dated Dec. 19, I was deeply disappointed to hear Chief Burke say “one of the reasons why the homeless community is here is because it is very lucrative for them to be in the city of Healdsburg”.
Chief Burke does not realize that most homeless people live within five miles of where they were born. While I can’t guarantee this is true of the Healdsburg homeless population (as there was no direct question) but based on responses to the “point in the time” homeless survey 70% of the respondent in the homeless population in Sonoma County said they lived in the county for more than 10 years, before they became homeless.
The idea that “if you provide services, they will come” is one of the biggest myths in the treatment of the homelessness. Homeless people do not come to Healdsburg because it is lucrative to be here.
I first became involved with the homeless after relocating from Dallas to Chicago in the winter of 1983. While I was freezing during my commute to work every day, I was surprised to see the same group of homeless persons on the street in my neighborhood every day during the winter. I researched homelessness, which is when I found that homeless typically live close to where they were born. I became involved in housing and feeding the local homeless. It continues to be one of my passions, but I wish our local officials would take the time to understand the issues instead of use platitudes that are clearly incorrect.
As a Healdsburg resident for over seven years, and a board member of Reach for Home, a Healdsburg based nonprofit that supports the homeless, I am saddened that Chief Burke is misinformed about our homeless population.