Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Letter to the Pasadena City Council: The "Quiet Majority" Want the Homeless to be Housed, not Arrested

Dear Mayor Tornek and City Council Members,

I want to thank you for removing the anti-camping part of the ordinance. I hope that you will reconsider the aggressive panhandling part. A San Diego police officer who works with the homeless said, "You can't arrest your way out of this problem."

This morning as I awakened, I had mixed feelings. As a gardener, I rejoiced because of the much needed rain. As an advocate for the homeless, I wondered: how are my homeless brothers and sisters doing? As I lay in my dry, comfortable bed, I asked myself:  Where are they sleeping?

Thank God they didn't have to worry about being arrested for sleeping in doorways or wherever else they found shelter from last night's storm. 

I know that there been many complaints about the homeless from constituents. Jill and I and other people of faith have conducted informal surveys of around 25 business owners and managers in the Playhouse District and all but one of them expressed compassion for the homeless. None of them expressed a need for more police intervention. One woman who runs a bridal dress store told us she gives them water and that people working at Target give them food. The manager at Office Max told us some homeless people sleep in the rear entry of their building but leave very early and don't cause any trouble. Other businesses gave similar reports. The manager of Tender Greens told us a homeless woman works for her. Some said that homeless people sometimes come around and cause some inconvenience but leave when asked. None complained about aggressive panhandling.

I don't doubt the validity of complaints you have received, but those who don't have complaints typically don't write and therefore aren't heard from. The next time you go to the Pasadena business district, you might consider asking the business owners and managers how they feel about the homeless. Maybe you have already done so. We really enjoyed getting to know the business owners and managers during our informal survey. They are very sympathetic people.

I am glad we live in a city where many if not most people have compassion for the poor and the homeless. I believe this "quiet majority"  would be pleased to know that the CIty Council is committed to housing, not arresting, the homeless.

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