READER’S EDITORIAL: SHOULD WE LIMIT FREEDOM OF PEOPLE WHO CHOOSE TO BE HOMELESS?

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By Steve Goble, El Cajon Councilman

January 14, 2020 (El Cajon) -- This has lots of good information. Thank you for this article, “Cities Should Act on Homelessness or Face Lawsuits, Newsom Task Force Says.”   

What I don't see the state officials addressing yet is, "What about a person's freedom to not live under a roof?"

The Council meeting today will have a comprehensive discussion on our efforts and results to-date on programs addressing homelessness.

What you'll see is a lot of the heavy lifting has been done.  That is, many who wanted off the streets have been placed into transitional or permanent housing. (Whether they have remained there is a different discussion.)  You'll also see organizations such as Crisis House and Home Start and Salvation Army who have received over a combined $1 million in grants because they showed the success they had in El Cajon's programs.

So there are those left on the streets of El Cajon who don't want off the streets.  You see groups in Wells Park, for example.  They like to be with their friends who are on the street also.  They don't want to live by rules at shelters (in non-secular programs) and at places like safe parking lots.  Except for the tons of debris left behind, they aren't committing a crime by not being under a roof.

So if the governor wants to penalize cities for not providing shelter (and El Cajon has been focused on funding shelter options with success) , then why would he penalize us for people who choose the freedom to live unsheltered?

Personal freedom, even to make perhaps what we would see as an unhealthy choice.

"However, neighbors have rights and freedoms, too!  Local governments simply cannot continue to haul away tons of debris left behind by people who are homeless.  We cannot risk the public health of a neighborhood because someone wants to live in the public right-of-way wherever they want and leave behind hundreds of thousands of pounds of food containers, bug-infested fabrics, and other unsanitary discards.

"The courts' limitation on enforcement is creating quandaries for local governments trying to maintain a healthy community for all.   Like the freedom of speech in which there are limits, should we be looking at limits on where a person can exercise their choice of being homeless?"

The opinions voiced in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

Comments

In short, of course not

But realize that we can not ethically accept the decisions of people whose illness prevents them from making choices in their own best interest. We have the diagnostic and administrative capabilities to sort out those who don't want to live under a roof for reasons of liberty, informed choice and responsibility. Those who are not presently capable of making such decisions for themselves due to mental illness simply need treatment under roof. We have used the word of the insane as an excuse to neglect them for too long. It is time to accept that we have been implementing a slow holocaust of the mentally ill, and to end this long running public policy atrocity.

Amen

Amen, Councilman. Amen!