Letters to the Editor

Housing is paramount

Jack Yelkahs (“Mental health crisis,” Jan. 16) states that federal government statistics show that 80 percent of homeless people suffer from either mental illness or substance abuse and that, therefore, “the majority on the streets need to be institutionalized.”

How cruel and misguided. I worked in a homeless socialization program in Pasadena and very few were mentally ill — unless it was from the trauma of becoming homeless themselves. (You wouldn’t know if you’ve always had a roof over your head).

Many of my clients were people like you or me, who had lost jobs/businesses, gone through wrenching divorces, suffered health problems they couldn’t afford to treat, been foreclosed on, etc. The recent downturn has been especially cruel for the once middle class, which includes many homeless.

Efforts to build or find housing for people trying to transition back to the mainstream must be paramount. Shelters are only temporary solutions if you can call them solutions at all. Hope’s Village is one local organization that is trying to build small minihomes for these people. But it needs a donation of land and possibly a variance on local building codes. Go to http://hopesvillageofslo.org for more information, or call 234-5478.

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