Our Neighbors: The People We Do Not Know…

homeless-campby Robb Davis

In the last few weeks we have heard poor and homeless people in our community referred to (in public meetings) as “undesirable” and “unsavory.”  They have been called “trolls” who live under the bridge and, in this space, they have been referred to as “raccoons.”

The terms, whatever their intent, have the effect of dehumanizing real people, with real lives. I traveled to Rwanda in 2004—10 years after the massacre of an estimated 500,000 people.  It was a sad and troubling trip. In the years leading up to the massacre the Tutsis—the main victim group—were systematically dehumanized, called “cockroaches” and worse.

Am I suggesting that by dehumanizing poor and homeless individuals in this community that we are headed for genocide?  No, I am not.  I am merely saying that words have consequences.  The dehumanization of the “other” ultimately dehumanizes us. Dismissing people as “the homeless” or, as is common in our newspapers, as “transients” ultimately makes them entities—things for which we have no responsibility, things with which we cannot engage in any meaningful relationship.

We cannot afford to do this.  As a community we must recognize the basic humanity in the other and afford them the respect of treating them as people, with intrinsic value because of their humanity.

And so, to “rehumanize” these people I offer the following vignettes.  These are snapshots of the lives of real people who live in our community (or who have passed through in recent years).  They are our neighbors. I offer them not to try to achieve some “politically correct” way to refer to them.  I offer them to remind us that the stories of poverty and exclusion and abuse and addiction are complex.

I am not an apologist for their behavior… I am an apologist for their humanity.

Please read their stories with a view to discovering their humanity and, in doing so, to reaffirm your own…

Lisa

Lisa was working part time and a part time student.  Involved in a steady relationship with her partner, she became pregnant but, soon after had a falling out with him and found herself alone.  She decided to continue her education after her son was born but could do so only because she received food stamps, health insurance for her son (but not her) and a small stipend from the college she attended.  Later she reestablished the relationship with her partner and became pregnant again.  They decided to move in order to save money but when her daughter was born the new county in which she lived would not provide her with the paper work to obtain health insurance for her newborn.  They moved again, due to violence in their community and to seek new opportunities in a new town.  She dreamed of going back to school while her partner earned minimum wage on two jobs that kept him working about 75 hours per week.  Neither adult–nor the baby–had health insurance when they moved and, this time, instead of transferring her health insurance (for her son) and food stamps to the new county (as is required) the old county merely deleted her records. Forced to reapply for insurance and food stamps in the new county she routinely received mailed notification of appointments days after they were to occur, others that stated she was missing unnamed paperwork that must be submitted by a date that had passed by days or weeks.  Two emergency health needs led to thousands of dollars in bills.  Her partner continued to work two jobs at minimum wage even as her daughter’s vaccinations lagged (she finally paid for them out of pocket for nearly $1000–while health workers chastised her for waiting so long).  She finally obtained food stamps and health insurance after an intervention by an elected official and she looks forward to starting school soon.

Steve

Steve is an outgoing and much loved homeless individual who has battled meth addiction for over half of his nearly 50 years.  He has learned to “get by,” relying on the services of local homeless organizations, the help of friends (of which he has many) and by taking odd jobs that often come his way because he is a consistent and hard worker (when not on meth).  Steve was on a downward spiral and the staff of one agency finally convinced him that if he continued on that path he would come to an early end (as had several people Steve knows well in recent years).  He moved into a transitional housing shelter that was strictly a “clean and sober” environment.  And Steve did VERY well there.  He followed his case worker’s advice, stayed on his plan, went to his meetings and after doing some volunteer work landed a solid job at a supermarket.  It included health care and paid a decent wage.  Steve was able to move out of the transitional housing shelter into a place of his own and was a valued colleague at work. And then he disappeared.  A month later he showed up at the shelter, downcast.  “One night,” he said.  “It took only one night for everything to fall apart.”  Steve has gone downhill since. He panhandles to earn enough for the thing he craves and is back to couch surfing and scrounging food where he can.

Ed

Ed had a steady job as a bouncer at a local club.  He loves the music and camaraderie of that scene but when the recession hit, Ed lost his job overnight and found himself with no immediate prospects.  Some time earlier he had divorced his wife and was required to provide child support for their teenage daughter.  Most of his wages–beyond his basic needs–went to child support (he later learned that erroneous calculations made by the court meant he had been overpaying but he could do nothing to recuperate the money).  He had no savings as a result and lacked basic budgeting skills.  He lost the room he was sharing with a “friend” when that friend failed to pay his share.   He ended up sleeping in his car but when the weather turned cold and his car died he showed up at a shelter.  He had no income for food and had no experience applying for food stamps–was not even sure where to start.  He received help to get food at the shelter and was required to seek work as a condition of staying there.  He applied for dozens and dozens of jobs but without a car his options were limited. Buses did not go near many of the places where he might find a job and though he had a bike, the combination of bus and bike did not always work because bus bike racks were full.  After 9 months he was able to find a decent job paying minimum wage (no health insurance) near a bus line and in a short while was able to seek housing closer to his work.  The “eviction” however continues to haunt him and at best he can get a single room thanks to an understanding (and needy) landlord–elderly and desperately in need of someone to live with her to provide some security.  But that is another story…

Nick

Nick has done time.  His charges are all drug related–mostly possession–but he bears the modern “scarlet letter”–not A, but C for Criminal.  He was released on parole because his offenses were non-violent but was required to stay within the state.  But… family problems led him to decide to break his parole and go home.  But home held no work prospects and so he returned and was arrested on a “technical” violation.  He had failed to complete a drug rehab program and went to jail for leaving the state.  While in jail he received health care and had a regular diet and did well. Upon his release (still under supervision) he obtained indigent health care support in his county and used various shelters and food pantries and free meal programs to survive.  In good weather he camped with friends often staying a step ahead of the police who would roll through and toss the camps.  He fell ill with pneumonia and ended up in the emergency room of a nearby hospital.  They confirmed the diagnosis and, because he had indigent health care support, his ER visit was covered and they prescribed an antibiotic. Strangely, they gave him the first 2 days of a 6 day course in the ER but he had to go to a pharmacy to obtain the other four days.  The only problem was, the closest pharmacy was in the next town over (no pharmacy in this town would accept indigent care prescriptions) and so he was forced to take a bus and transfer 3 times in the pouring rain, with active pneumonia, to get his prescription.  Since then Nick has had another technical violation due to his inability to pay back fines and charges (he has no source of income).  He is on the street and using in a form of self-medication to make it through the day.

?

I don’t know her name… but she showed up in mid-winter at the shelter.  She was, young, well dressed and articulate.  Some people assumed she was a volunteer at the shelter.  When dinnertime rolled around she approached staff and asked “Who made this food?”  When told it was volunteers she said she could not eat it because someone was trying to poison her–actually had been for some time.  It took quite a bit of conversation to convince her it was okay but other issues came forward–fear, paranoia of a debilitating nature.  She had come under circumstances that were not clear from somewhere in the Midwest.  A call to the emergency number she provided yielded a conversation with a psychiatrist who, for reasons of patient/doctor confidentiality, would tell nothing about her.  She was without money, with a small backpack containing some clothes, no direction, no plans, just looking for a dry warm place to sleep.  As a young woman on the streets she was vulnerable.  She stayed in the shelter for a few weeks and accessed other services but refused counseling, revealed little about herself and then disappeared as quickly as she had come.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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76 thoughts on “Our Neighbors: The People We Do Not Know…”

    1. chris

      Until we change the way we deal the homeless problem we have in the United States it is going to do nothing but increase. I know I was being offensive but it is reality.

      1. growth issue

        Davis is a magnet for the homeless. Almost everytime I go downtown I get pandered to and see more and more homeless on the streets. The homeless have said themselves that Davis is a go to destination because of the weather, the pandering and the open arms of the community. The problem is only going to get worse.

        1. Kara

          Is the problem that the homeless are making your community less enjoyable, or is the problem that people are homeless? The whole point of the post as I understood it was to remember that these people are not “the homeless”, they are people in their own right with needs and challenges.

          1. growth issue

            No, let’s just make it more desirable for them to come to Davis and soon our streets will look like San Francisco. You have children David, when they’re old enough are you going to feel comfortable if they go downtown and walk or ride their bikes among meth addicts?

          2. David Greenwald Post author

            Yes I have children, one of the most meaningful experiences of my childhood was feeding the homeless with my youth group. My kids will at some point do the same and learn about compassion and humanity.

          3. growth issue

            I have neighbors who used to let their kids ride their bikes downtown to see a movie or get an ice cream. They say not anymore because of the amount of homeless on the streets. They won’t let them go downtown unless they go with them.

          4. Kara

            Do homeless people in Davis routinely attack children and teens? I think the issue you are describing is a fear of the poor, not borne out of rational assessment of real risks.

          5. growth issue

            Well call me and some of my neighbors paranoid then for not wanting our children and grandchildren to be around meth addicts unaccompanied.

          6. David Greenwald Post author

            Okay, but the question is still from a policy perspective, what you propose to do with homeless people, particularly those with drug or mental health issues. They have to be somewhere, so what services are you willing to provide so that your children and grandchildren do not have to share the streets and parks with them?

          7. Kara

            I didn’t call anyone paranoid, and as a parent I understand the desire to protect ones children. I was just pointing out that referring to all homeless people as violent meth addicts and perpetuating the overall fear of the poor, is one big piece in their dehumanization

          8. Mr. Toad

            Or one child molester or drunk driver or kid with a knife or one person stopping here off the freeway or ex-boyfriend that can’t get over it or…

          9. Matt Williams

            G.I., I have a problem with your logic. I suspect that there are more rapes perpetrated by husbands in ay given time period than there are rapes perpetrated by homeless individuals in that same time period. Do you call into question the safety of being in proximity to a husband the same way you call into question the safety of being in proximity to a homeless individual?

            After all, by your logic it just takes the actions of one husband to indict all husbands everywhere.

          10. David Greenwald Post author

            It’s also possible that more assaults occur on homeless people than by homeless people.

          11. Michelle Millet

            “Well call me and some of my neighbors paranoid then for not wanting our children and grandchildren to be around meth addicts unaccompanied”

            If by paranoid you mean someone who changes their behavior because of irrational anxiety of fear, then yes I think you are being paranoid.

          12. Frankly

            There was a recent rape at the church by a homeless person. I think it would be irresponsible to not admit that with a larger homeless population comes a greater risk that residents will be harmed.

          13. David Greenwald Post author

            On the other hand, we have far more sexual assaults by college students, so does that mean with a larger student population, there is a greater risk that a residence will be harmed as well?

          14. Mr. Toad

            The perp was caught and is in jail. Every case is serious but extending the acts of one individual to an entire class of people to punish them through policies that make their already miserable lives worse seems cruel.

          15. DavisBurns

            The people who stay in the winter rotating shelter are vetted prior to being accepted. Was this rape in one of these facilities? If not, I’m all ears about other shelters in Davis

          16. Tia Will

            Frankly,

            This was a single incident by one individual who happened to be homeless. I guarantee you as a gynecologists that the majority of rapes are not committed by the homeless but rather by individuals who have jobs. Should we therefore demonize male workers since males with jobs with sufficient income to allow them to rent apartments or own homes because they constitute the majority of rapists ?

          17. Matt Williams

            I agree completely Tia. I am very confident saying that significantly more rapes are committed by husbands than by the homeless. Should we therefore demonize husbands because they constitute such a large proportion of rapists?

          18. Mr. Toad

            Every parent must act in accordance with what they believe is the amount of independence they believe their children can safely handle. If you think the homeless situation in Davis is bad you should leave town and see what is going on in California. Yolo county has a 17% poverty rate and that is low for a Central Valley county. Since you use the nom de plume Growth Issue it makes me wonder about how your fear and disdain of poor people is connected to your opposition to growth?

          19. DavisBurns

            Hey! I too am opposed to growth, I think it’s a cancer, but that does not mean I am afraid of poor people. While I am not poor, I am related to many people who are very poor because of where they live or because of serious health issues. Please do not equate prejudices to a moral and economic opposition to growth.

          20. Mr. Toad

            Fine but I do find it interesting when somebody uses the handle Growth Issue and rants in such a mean spirited way about the poor. I will say that economic growth and a more robust economy could help reduce poverty.

          21. Tia Will

            Mr. Toad

            Rants against the poor are in no way limited to those who favor no or slow growth. We recently heard during public comment two of our prominent citizens who clearly favor rapid growth disparaging the homeless in front of the city council.

          22. Michelle Millet

            “You have children David, when they’re old enough are you going to feel comfortable if they go downtown and walk or ride their bikes among meth addicts?”

            Are meth addicts attacking children in Davis? If so I haven’t heard about. If it was happening I would not feel comfortable letting me children walk or ride their bikes downtown. But I don’t believe that this an accurate assessment of the situation.

          23. Mr. Toad

            My daughter reminds me to help the poor. When she is old enough to be out by herself I will worry about her safety just as I do today but there are many threats in life, desperate people are only one kind of threat. The problem is that we are not going to rid ourselves of these people by making their lives harder. They are everywhere and our weak social safety net means there are more of them and they are more desperate then ever. Even worse, with the end of extended unemployment benefits and cuts in food stamps, things are going to get worse for the dispossessed even as they get better for the rest of us.

        2. Mr. Toad

          Davis is no more a magnet for the homeless than any other place and compared to the poverty and despair throughout the country. If you tried to go someplace without poor people you would be isolated or behind walls somewhere. It seems you want the problem to go away but are only offering negative consequences and indifference. Robb does a fair job of trying to humanize the discussion. It’s too bad that those whose fates have been more fortunate fail to have compassion towards those whose lives are so much harder.

      2. Matt Williams

        Yes you were being offensive, and two of your posts that had no purpose other than to inflame/insult have been removed. Two other posts that had content merit remain in place with some edits.

        The issue of homelessness is certainly a meaningful one, but please try and keep your comments respectful and avoid purposely offending other human beings who do not have the opportunity or ability to respond to your demeaning assessments of them.

          1. Matt Williams

            Ryan, the reply was immediately attached to Chris’ post above it, nested one level as all replies are.

          2. Matt Williams

            Ryan, the reply was immediately attached to Chris’ post above it, nested one level as all replies are.

      1. Matt Williams

        Coming back to the Vanguard for the first time since this morning.

        Ryan, I did not see anything that you posted that fell into the offensive category. My response was directly linked to the post by Chris acknowledging the fact that he probably was offensive.

  1. SouthofDavis

    Robb wrote:

    > I traveled to Rwanda in 2004—10 years after the massacre of an estimated 500,000 people.

    I got to know Fr. Innocent Subiza from Rwanda (he actually lived there 10 years before your visit) when he lived in Davis for a few years. Do us a favor and don’t compare someone who (in a politically incorrect way) says that some human behavior is similar to animal behavior or someone that thinks it is “undesirable” to have someone high on meth throwing bottles on the street in front of their house at 3:00 am to the people that killed up to a MILLION (if you count the deaths of refugees forced from their homes who died in travel and in the camps) people.

    > I am not an apologist for their behavior… I am an apologist for their humanity.

    As a kid and young adult I spent more time than most people (and actually more time than most priests) helping poor people. It is important to remember that all humans have dignity but is also important to remember that almost all the homeless have serious drug, alcohol and mental issues. When I asked a Franciscan priest (who ran a homeless shelter) years ago “what percentage of these people have drug, alcohol or mental issues” he responded “about 99%, but we help them all anyway”…

    Thanks for the stories, but it would be nice to get some of the “back stories”, since just about everyone on the street or in a shelter has “burned a lot of bridges” (aka they have done a lot of bad things to a lot of people)before getting to that point. A good friend had (he took his own life in his 30’s) a brother with a meth problem and it got to a point where the family had to “give up” since you can’t force someone that does not want help to get it…

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “but is also important to remember that almost all the homeless have serious drug, alcohol and mental issues. ”

      And how do you propose we address those problems?

      1. Phil Coleman

        My dealings with homeless people transcends a period of over two decades and hundreds of individuals. My relationship with such persons ranged from adversarial to friend, most somewhere in the middle. I can go back to when homeless were called bums, tramps, hobos, and transients.

        With this presentation of experience and authority, I disagree with the assertion that “almost all” homeless have serious drug, alcohol, and mental issues. Homeless persons are among the most stereotyped people in contemporary society. They are much closer to representative of the greater society except for two deficiencies. They have no home and have no money.

    2. Robb Davis

      South of Davis – Obviously these are just vignettes and my intent was narrow: help us to realize that the stories of poverty and homelessness are complex. I have seen the things you are describing and the “back stories” are as messy as the vignettes. But the follow on to many more is positive and that is often because someone took a risk to be in relationship with an individual and caught them at a “moment of lucidity” and steered them in a new direction. They key, as I am sure the priest would agree, is relationship building and tough love.

      As far as Rwanda–I debated whether to keep that in but my intent was to shock. This is not about political correctness but rather what tolerance we have for dehumanizing language. In my years in Davis I have seen people use a kind of language towards homeless people that would never be tolerated were it directed at others. Some of came from people in leadership positions. Over the past few weeks and days I have just grown weary of the casual and somewhat jocular references and so I wrote this. I believe this is bad behavior that needs to be called out. I am not asking you to agree with me. And BTW, I have lived in far less violent places than Rwanda where demonizing language WAS used to incite violence against groups. It does not take Rwanda-level violence to see the effects of words to instigate violence. Any freedom–speech included–comes with responsibilities.

      1. SouthofDavis

        Thanks for the reply it is important to realize that “both” sides of (almost) every debate use language to frame the debate (the homeless are never as bad as the haters make them seem and never as good as the advocates make them seem)…

        but is also important to remember that almost all the homeless have serious drug, alcohol and mental issues. ”

        And how do you propose we address those problems?

        1. SouthofDavis

          When I write:

          > but is also important to remember that almost all the homeless have
          > serious drug, alcohol and mental issues. ”

          And David wrote:

          > And how do you propose we address those problems?

          I don’t know how to solve the problem, but my advice is still good (just like my advice to college kids to never drink the punch at a fraternity party is good even if it does not stop the problem of binge drinking and my advice not to wear a red bandana when working as an English tutor in a MS13 neighborhood is good even if it does not solve the problem of gang violence)…

          I agree with Rob that we need more people to “take a risk”. I have posted about it before that I took a big “risk” when I gave some work to the son of a friend who had been in jail for using (and dealing meth) a few years back. I’m happy to report that he is not only doing well now with a full time job but has bought a home. When less get “burned” we will have more people “taking risks” and if you go in knowing that “you might not be able to help” and “they might try and steal from you” you will be able to take the failures that (sadly) come more often than the guys that turn their lives around…

  2. Ryan Kelly

    These stories are sad and I have empathy for these people, but in each case (except for the woman with mental illness) the person made life decisions that put them where they are. We cannot expect them to figure things out on their own. The community can help by funding social workers that can cut through red tape, moving to universal healthcare that isn’t tied to Counties or States, school/ college counselors or academic advisers that actually assist students, etc. But if the person rejects help and continues the behavior that keeps them homeless, it becomes frustrating for others.

    In each of these cases, you describe fairly well-behaved people struggling along, but what happens when they start misbehaving – public drunkenness, fighting, stealing, public nudity, vandalism, public drug use, screaming obscenities, verbal harassment or threats, littering of alcohol or drug paraphernalia etc. That is what I think people are referring to when they use terms like “unsavory.”

  3. Frankly

    Davis is not Rwanda.

    There is a careful balancing act required to ensure that our “caring” does not become “enabling”.

    I don’t think it is in our best interest to demand that we treat homeless people demonstrating bad behavior with the same human dignity that we treat people that make life choices that are at least neutral in their negative impacts to others. The message should be you are welcome only if you follow the rules.

    Many poor in Rwanda then and now would absolutely feel like they had been transported to heaven being able to live in this country… especially a city like Davis. They would recognize the vast sea of opportunity to make a good life for themselves. They would expect that there are rules.

    I think, as a society, we need to set some lines and limits for what behaviors we are willing to tolerate, and we need to set rules at those lines and limits, and deliver consequences.

    Here is the thing about homeless people. A large percentage of them are simply out of control. For whatever reason, they are incapable of making good decisions and are prone to behavior not in their best interest. They are the extreme cases for this malady… one that affects many people on a regular basis. And when a person has this malady, they are in need to a level of direct supervision. And direct supervision in this case is the setting of rules and the enforcement of those rules. Otherwise the impacts from their tendency to spiral down in increasing poor choice and bad behavior will multiply.

    With all the bleeding heart love San Francisco was giving to their homeless population, eventually the homeless started using the driveways and doorsteps of private residences as their toilet. This is an example of that spiral downwards tendency. Eventually the bleeding hearts had enough and demanded rules and enforcement.

    So, let’s prevent a similar situation where we resist setting rules out of our desire to treat these people with dignity, and then we end up with bigger problems. Let’s draw the line up front to supervise behavior. And if this supervision feels unwelcoming to some of our homeless population, they will be motivated to leave and go somewhere else.

    Let’s not confuse the issue here. We can feel compassion and love for all fellow humans no matter what their circumstance while we also make it clear what behaviors we dislike and what rules we demand. And the behavior of stealing recycling from containers is absolutely a behavior we should dislike and demand rules for.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Here’s my problem with your comment: “Here is the thing about homeless people. A large percentage of them are simply out of control. For whatever reason, they are incapable of making good decisions and are prone to behavior not in their best interest.”

      Statistically speaking, a large percentage of homeless people are mentally ill. Many who do not fall directly into what we would call mental illness, have suffered depression, abuse, and end up what we call, self-medicating. The idea that this is a matter of control and that they are out of control, I think misdiagnoses the problem.

      1. Frankly

        If they are mentally ill, they are certainly prone to being out of control.

        And what I am really trying to say is that they – for whatever reason – cannot make good life decisions within the context of our social system.

        My natural father is homeless in Hawaii. He has mental health problems. His entire life has been a story of being out of control. The homeless situation in Hawaii got so bad that they are not cracking down. That is my point… let’s set up the rules so that we don’t have to crack down in the future.

  4. Michelle Millet

    “There was a recent rape at the church by a homeless person. I think it would be irresponsible to not admit that with a larger homeless population comes a greater risk that residence will be harmed.”

    I think it’s irresponsible to label an entire group based on the actions of one individual.

    1. Frankly

      I am not labeling, I am making the point that there is evidence of increased risk.

      Parts of Sacramento are experiencing a large increase in home break ins and property theft. The report is that the release of non-violent prisoners has increased the homeless population with drug habits and they are out looking for stuff to steal so they can buy drugs.

  5. growth issue

    David, are you really going to try and tell us that college students commit more crimes on a per capita basis than the homeless do? Would you want your children to be unaccompanied around college students or the drug addicts, ex-cons and the mentally challenged homeless?

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I’m not trying to say anything of the sort, there are situations where I would not allow my kids to be unaccompanied by adults that have nothing to do with the presence of the homeless population. But AGAIN, because you keep dodging my question: WHAT IS YOUR SOLUTION?

  6. SouthofDavis

    Toad wrote:

    > Davis is no more a magnet for the homeless than any other place

    You need to get out more if you don’t think that Davis has more homeless than “any other place”. Like metal is drawn to a magnet homeless come to places where they get things for free (Davis, Berkeley, SF etc.) and flee places where the residents don’t look the other way at public urination and public drunkenness (all of rural California and every urban city with a majority of GOP voters).

    Davis is not as bad as SF where EVERY unlocked stairwell in the city smells like urine, but we are getting close and you can “experience the smells of SF” in many stairwells in Davis (and most dumpster enclosures as that the homeless use to relieve themselves in private midway through a night of collecting cans)…

    1. DavisBurns

      You know, the bathroom problem really gets me. Mammals have to shit and piss. How is it that we make it a crime to evacuate? Seems like the least we can do is either make it legal to do it outside or provide public toilets.

  7. SouthofDavis

    Frankly wrote:

    > There is a careful balancing act required to ensure that our “caring” does not become “enabling”.

    With an increasing number of parents letting their own kids do anything they want (so they feel good) there is no surprise that more and more people also want to let the homeless do anything they want (so they feel good).

    The courts have been letting the homeless off for years (since punishment for breaking rules would be a “war on the poor”) now it looks like they are letting the kids that were “enabled” off also:

    the-affluenza-defense-judge-rules-rich-kids-rich-kid-ness-makes-him-not-liable-for-deadly-drunk-driving-accident

  8. growth issue

    Toad:
    “Davis is no more a magnet for the homeless than any other place”

    Wrong. When I said Davis is a magnet for the homeless I didn’t make it up. Those words came from the homeless themselves. A while back The Enterprise did some articles on the homeless and they said that Davis is a preferred destination for them.

    1. Tia Will

      Oh for heavens sake GI, of course Davis is a “magnet” for those who have chosen to make it their home. It would be equally valid to say that it is not a magnet for those that are choosing to live elsewhere. One could also say that Davis is a magnet for highly educated liberals. And the point of this observation would be ?

  9. growth issue

    “Sellman, once a resident of Sacramento, said he was drawn to Davis because of its unique character.

    “There was something here in Davis that was different from any other town,” Sellman said. “I can’t put my finger on it.”

    Many Davis residents are very friendly and supportive of the homeless in town, Sellman said, and some have even become friends.

    That attitude among local residents is probably what brings many other homeless people into town from other cities, he said.”

    1. Robb Davis

      And guess where “Sellman” is now housed, doing great and engaged in volunteer work to help homeless people. Pretty amazing story. So, in that case, coming to Davis was key to moving on and getting his life together. Maybe our community can have a unique roll in helping bring about this kind of healing BECAUSE we are friendly and supportive.

      1. growth issue

        Sellman’s quote was used as an example of the homeless saying Davis is a go to destination. I’m glad it worked out in his case. How many others have come to Davis because it’s the place to go if you’re homeless that it hasn’t worked out and created problems for the community. Is that what you want Davis to be, a magnet for the homeless?

        1. Tia Will

          If it were to be determined that Davis had a higher percentage than surrounding communities of helping the homeless to establish a better life for themselves, my answer would be an unequivocal “yes”.

          1. Matt Williams

            Strive for warm hearted, open-minded, honey sweet, forgiving … that will drive all the mean spirited, close-minded, toxic, judgmental people totally crazy.

  10. DavisBurns

    To the best of my knowledge, a homeless person (who actually has a name) saw my daughter unconscious in a downtown parking lot, called 911 and saved her life. I’d like to say thank you.

  11. Bill Habicht

    I’m coming late to the party, but wow. First off, great article Robb. It is disheartening that a mentality of marginalization is what some people choose… and it is a choice.

    I can understand fear as a driving force for many of the negative reactions. It’s almost always fear… unsubstantiated in most cases. Did you know that more violent crimes (%) are a the result of HOUSED individuals than UN-HOUSED individuals? And the whole magnet theory, it’s been debunked by researchers already. The visceral reactions are based on fear, not fact.

    Yes, DCC had a sexual assault on our property. I’m curious how many other assaults occurred in Davis this past year. My guess is that the vast majority of assaults were the result of HOUSED people, not un-housed. Sure, it’s easy to take one, isolated incident and apply it to a group. It’s neat and clean and easy. But it simply doesn’t hold up.

    And the break-in that occurred at DCC earlier this year… that was a college student. I’ll give you three guesses who called me at 3am to let me know that they were watching someone break in to the church. They promptly called the police.

    Now, if we could just focus on getting those disabled people out of town. I mean, there’s one in particular that makes me feel uncomfortable. I have no idea what their disability is, nor do I really care to take the time to find out their story. He’s undesirable in my opinion. I say we go after them next.

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