Robbins: Where Have All these Homeless People Come From?




Lessons learned from the many years that this great nation has funded with our tax dollars the protection of the most needy among us:

Through the trials and tribulations of the 19th century and the great depression of the 20th century we Americans embraced programs that helped everyone we could, to the very best of our ability including the poor, needy, sick and mentally disabled. We were committed in due diligence for humanity and God to help the disadvantaged that they might live comfortably and have a chance to rejoin society as to the best of their ability.

Whe rarely saw homeless people in Orange County when I was growing up in the 60s. The system then was better at taking care of the poor and needy; the funding stream designated to keep the people off the streets has decreased significantly in the last 20 years.

Welcome to the 21st century:

Cuts also include $5.8 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH): 

  • $400 million less to mental health and substance abuse programs (including a $116 million cut to the Mental Health Block Grant program)
  • $6.2 billion in cuts to housing programs.

If you cut the services to the poor, needy, sick and mentally disabled we will unavoidably see an increase of homeless people on the streets, just as we do.

The lily-white part of town I grew up in was Garden Grove in the 60s and 70s.  Actually it really WAS a garden at that time, with orange groves every other block, too many to eat, pick em eat em, 2, 3 , 4 at a time.

Avocado groves were all over too, but I was not into guac in my younger years. We were not yet exposed to the gooey spicy goodness of guacamole and chips, or avocados on anything. But I do remember my father eating that green stuff along with giblets, and fried fish skin.

There were no homeless living in the nearby orange groves, just kids and sweet oranges and tree forts. The Avocado grove behind my house produced a zillion avocados and among the dense green trees there were no homeless people.

We never found a homeless person squatting in our “finely” constructed tree houses among the avocado trees. These flimsily built forts in the trees were never up to code and the homeless were probably smart enough to avoid them for fear of being injured. Parents didn’t mind our using them though…

Now days we see the homeless around town on a regular basis, people with no where to go.

Community aid is lacking, ineffectual, rude and discriminatory.

“Pick,” the homeless people are told by the code officers and police in Anaheim: “Shelter, Jail or leave Anaheim.” The choice is an over crowed shelter with bunk beds, stinkin’ bathrooms and cold showers – or – Jail with over crowded bunk beds, stinkin’ bathrooms BUT hot showers (at least). The third choice seems simple enough – leave Anaheim.

Stay in the place you know and hide in plain sight is the choice of many. Using the secret places only known to the homeless people and the coyotes.

Living with the coyotes is not an easy life; imagine losing everything, physically or mentally disabled and forced into hiding by a defective and deeply flawed system.

I do know my feelings on the subject and they are supported by my actions for decades, perhaps based on a sense of humanity instilled in me by my parents.

We were in San Francisco in 2005 with my 2 beautiful children aged 10 and 12. At the beginning of our day on the town we would give each child some money to spend any way they wanted. My daughter would always give it away to the homeless people on the streets before we knew it!

Honey you shouldn’t give all your money away” we urged.  So we came up with a system where we gave her separate money designated for the homeless so she would save some for herself.

These are lessons we taught our children and believe in always.

When a few homeless people pitched tents in the park near our house my wife would take them dinner every night. I slowed it down because I knew there would be a backlash if the crowd grew too large. My neighbors are not so giving.

When I speak to the individuals living on the streets many have SS or disability or even part time or full time jobs but cannot afford housing.

The moneyed in Orange County are building housing at a record pace for the moneyed only.

Funds have been cut, money that is available is not being used, and people are dying.

It is time to step up.

Leaders please step up now, everyone step up now and save the people on the streets from dejection, loneliness, despair and early death.

Michael J Robbins
Peoples Homeless Task Force

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.