Yes, we are criminalizing homelessness.
Cities are judged by how they treat the less fortunate. On that basis, the “happiest city in America” is doing poorly. SLO County has about 150 shelter beds for the 2,000-plus homeless. We must have an answer to the question posed by the homeless: “Where can I sleep without being ticketed?” Until our government has an answer to that question, it should instruct law enforcement not to ticket the homeless for sleeping.
In the city of San Luis Obispo, we are making it a crime to be without a home. We treat stray dogs better than we treat our homeless. I have had homeless people tell me they would love to live in one of the dog kennels at the local humane society, where they would have a safe, secure, dry, clean place to live.
Clearly, there are not enough shelter beds. Even if there were, our shelters don’t admit those who drink, curse, have a drug addiction or mental illness, or even a pet dog. Many of our homeless are children, veterans or the elderly. In this relatively affluent community, we should be able to find a way to shelter and feed everyone.
Tim Waag, San Luis Obispo