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Listen to our interview,  originally aired on KNSJ 89.1 FM, by clicking the audio link.

By Miriam Raftery

March 21, 2017 (La Mesa) – This Thursday, La Mesa Conversations will host an event at Johnny B’s Restaurant in La  Mesa from 5:30 to 7 :30 p.m.  on homelessness in La Mesa.  We sat down with Bonnie Baranoff, a steering committee member from La Mesa Conservations, and with Lois Knowlton from the La Mesa First United Methodist Church on signicant progress helping the homeless—and how you can help. 

The church holds regular events to help the homeless get back on their feet, offering clothes for job interviews, haircuts and meals.  The church has long helped homeless people who showed up on their doorstep.  Now, church leaders aim to take that to a higher level by creating La Mesa’s first temporary shelter for homeless people in the church’s basement.

Knowlton explained that homelessness is on the rise in the La Mesa area, with an estimated 200 homeless students now in the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District.

You can help by coming to the event this Thursday, March 23rd and bringing items to benefit the homeless—such as clothing and packaged, non-perishable foods. 

You can also volunteer to help with the church’s outreach mission by calling (619)466-4163.

For more information on La Mesa Conversations, visit www.LaMesaConversations.org


Bonnie Baranoff, La Mesa Conversations & Lois Knowlton, La Mesa First United Methodist Church, on homelessness

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This is a national tragedy --

about 5,000 homeless people in San Diego County, and it's the faithful like Knowlton and Baranoff who address the issue in "the greatest country on earth." . . .I was just reading a travel report on Cuba, a poor country, yet with no visible homeless, no panhandlers. . .Where does our tax dollars go to? The US currently has nearly 200,000 troops currently deployed overseas at about 800 bases in 177 countries. This includes about 40K in the Gulf, 39K in Japan, 34K in Germany, 23K in Korea and 9K in Afghanistan. . . .Go figure.. . .I say America first.

It IS a national tragedy

Thank you for your kind words, Don. According to the 2016 Point-in-Time-Count, there were 8,692 homeless in San Diego County. :( You can read the full report on the Regional Task Force on the Homeless website at http://www.rtfhsd.org/. All best, Bonnie

travel report

Here's the trip report to Cuba that I spoke of. . . ." Despite its poverty, [Cuba] has the lowest malnutrition rate in the Americas. Nowhere did I see homeless people sleeping in parks, doorways or under bridges nor people begging as I saw daily during the years that I worked in Boston. Boston, with a quarter of Havana’s population, had nearly 8,000 homeless men, women and children in 2016, with a 25 percent increase in homeless families since 2015."

What more can we do, Bonnie?

I've contributed a lot to Father Joe's Villages in San Diego, I thing they do great things. But the problem still seems too huge. There should be zero homeless.