The street map notation was “Infirmary.” To the townies of Wakefield, Mass., it was the “Poor Farm,” a 20-acre tract on the edge of our town set aside to accommodate the homeless.
On the property was a large barracks-style building, pastures, barns and sheds. Cattle and poultry raised there provided year-round supplies of meat, dairy products and eggs. The large garden provided vegetables for day-to-day food and for canning. It was no free ride. Except for small administrative costs, it was a selfsufficient operation; all who lived there were required to make it so.
That was 70 years ago. Fast-forward to our time. The homeless situation is in “crisis,” mainly with regard to the location of a new shelter. I submit that the ideal place for a SLO “Poor Farm” is where it always was: the DeVaul property.
Something like a 99-year lease from Mr. DeVaul and his successors is one mechanism that could work. A mini-RV park with electric power and a dump station would keep the homeless who live in their vehicles off the streets. Its design, construction, and operation could engage Cal Poly students and faculty.
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