Letters to the Editor

Viewpoint: Homeless Services Center asks for community input

The decision to delay the public launch of the capital campaign for the new Homeless Services Center (HSC) in San Luis Obispo does not sound a death knell for the project. It was made to provide more opportunity for all concerns from all facets of the community to be heard, so that we can make responsible decisions as we move forward.

As with all other communities in our state, we are experiencing a greater intensity of problems stemming from homelessness. Most difficult for all of us who truly care about the issue is finding a necessary balance between helping people who can and want to be helped, while at the same time maintaining civility, safety and sanitary conditions of our streets and creeks.

It is tragic that so many people in this wealthy country go without proper physical and mental health care, work for wages that often can’t cover expenses and sometimes, through bad fortune or poor decisions, end up without a place to live.

We all agree that we must try to help people who need and seek help. Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize how scarce resources actually are and how increasingly difficult it is for homeless service providers to make the necessary choices that provide real assistance to those in need.

To that end, all of us involved in the effort to create the new HSC agree that we need to prioritize programs and services in a center that is focused first and foremost on selfsufficiency. In this way we will best serve the interests of our whole community.

This means case management and counseling, and an HSC that only enables people to take advantage of opportunities to help themselves up.

This means understanding the complex nature of human dignity, which expects lawful and decent behavior from all. Otherwise, we begin to dehumanize people, even if out of compassion, by expecting less from them.

This means enlisting everyone who cares to join those of us already committed to making this center a reality through contributions of funds, services and materials.

We are not simply engaging the business community of the South Higuera Street area, but involving the entire community in finding solutions. That may mean building and site redesign. It will require additional attention to safety and nuisance issues. And, of course, more outreach throughout the community.

Be assured, we will be working more closely, more collaboratively and more diligently with the city, county, business community, general public and other nonprofits, because we believe our community does not want to fail in this vital mission.

We believe that we can create a center that truly reflects our values and balances the interests of all.

We believe we can be successful and will recapture our momentum. But, we need your help and we’re asking for it today.

The executive board of the Homeless Services Center: Supervisor Adam Hill; Dee Torres, director of homeless services, Community Action Partnership; John Spatafore, opportunity campaign co-chair; Dee Lacey, opportunity campaign cochair; Roxanne Carr, opportunity campaign co-chair.