The community requires a huge learning curve when it comes to homelessness and homeless services. When an unhoused person becomes housed, they are no longer homeless. But unfortunately the stereotype, discrimination and prejudice follows them. The Eastside response to Alisos and quotes in the media prove that there is much fear and ignorance when it comes to homelessness.
How can Permanent Supportive Housing projects coexist with residential neighborhoods, when the public believes people who have transitioned and recovered from homelessness are criminals, insane, and carry some kind of plague?
I’m afraid that we are going down an ugly, dark road with this issue. The lack of compassion and understanding will only continue to impact our streets and public spaces in a negative manner.
The hard drugs and alcohol abuse on our streets along with mental-health disorders have created a homeless crisis and epidemic. Housing First is an evidence-based solution. The problem we have is that nobody wants to give it a chance. How can we experience success, when success is never given a chance?
Mark Alvarado resides in Santa Barbara and works as the Homeless Services manager for the City of Oxnard.