Viewpoint

SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill apologizes for criticizing CAPSLO on homeless issues

March 25, 2014 

As a native of New Jersey, I tend to speak as fast as I think, but that is not necessarily a talent. In fact, it has often led to expressing myself far more emotionally than is appropriate. Such is true when it comes to issues I am passionate about, and it has been the case too often when it comes to homelessness and how to better deal with it in our community.

Discussions and proposed actions have grown increasingly prominent in recent years. My own involvement in the issue has intensified through my time in office. I have been under bridges and in the creek, and at the day center and overnight at the overflow shelters. I’ve served food on family holidays and have witnessed case management calls for severely mentally ill clients. I have also, in my role as an elected official, discussed with residents and other leaders the effects and social costs on our community.

Homelessness has only grown more difficult and challenging for all of us as resources have grown scarce and the problems have multiplied. My serious reservations about the changes and the new direction for homeless services at CAPSLO stem from a very informed and increasingly experienced point of view. But the expression of my disappointment and frustration, which had been building for nearly a year, was overly emotional and the tone far too harsh. Others, including elected officials, have expressed their own concerns and posed their own important questions in a far more productive manner than I did.

My relationship with Dee Torres developed after years of working with her and coming to a place of near reverential respect for her commitment to helping people who are most fragile, helping people others gave up on and others want gone. This is a passion we now share. I know that the tone and force of my remarks on this issue have at times been problematic. Through Dee I have met many others in our community who every day volunteer and advocate on behalf of those who need help. It is time for me to step back and let those other voices be fully heard. I apologize for shifting attention away from these fine folk who give selflessly of their time and money because it disturbs them to live in a beautiful county where too many people still suffer from poverty and mental illness.

What is important is for me to represent and lead with more composure and to not distract from the many other issues before the Board of Supervisors and our other boards. While I have recused myself from matters directly relating to homeless services of CAPSLO, I will completely recuse myself hereon from all CAPSLO matters. It is a terrific privilege and honor to represent the people of our community, to fight for jobs and to bring attention to the plight of the most vulnerable, but I must do so with equanimity and respect. And while I am a heart-on-the-sleeve kind of person, often, unfiltered candor is the worst way to proceed. It is a lesson this Jersey boy has learned.

Adam Hill represents the 3rd District on the county Board of Supervisors.

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