During the past four holiday seasons, Humboldt’s various media have reported on the local homeless problem. The human interest stories usually feature interviews with managers of the county’s Arcata-based social welfare organizations. Last week’s “Cold Shoulders” followed the tradition. As an underemployed and partially disabled 29-year Humboldt resident who became unhoused one year ago through little fault of my own, I’d like to contribute another perspective.
In my quest to become a better established and more responsible Arcatan, during the last five years I’ve utilized either the Endeavor, Night Shelter or Arcata House as best as I could. However, whether intentional or not, and despite my sincere desire to — as your story explained — “work and educate” myself, these organizations operated as if they only wanted to serve veterans of the North Coast’s depressed pot market, or hopelessly dependent or goofy individuals, neither of which category applies to me. John Shelter, Karen Olson and the Night Shelter manager also refused to have a serious discussion about anything vital to my general well-being and healing. Perhaps John would provide readers with recidivism rates and the actual numbers of downtrodden he claims the Endeavor has “pulled off the streets” during the past 10 years?
Borrowing a line from Mahatma Gandhi’s Seven Deadly Sins, it’s my feeling the above nonprofits regularly practice “politics without principle” as they go about doing business, something difficult for progressive thinkers to accept. Therefore, last June I stopped visiting their facilities.
It would benefit the Arcata community as a whole if its social welfare collectives standardized their business protocol and created a system allowing clients to submit written suggestions or complaints. A letter I wrote after being falsely accused of wrongdoing at the Night Shelter last January never received a response.
On Dec. 12, 1997, the story “Arcata’s Greens Face Fight For Power Recall” was printed in Santa Rosa’s Press-Democrat. Though I’m not exactly a Jerry Partain or Carl Pellatz fan, in it Jerry remarked, “the Greens and liberals have shut out everybody who doesn’t happen to share in their political ideology.” And former Mayor Carl accused “the Greens of favoring their own political agendas over the best interests of the larger community.”
Because this disharmonious political climate still exists, the recent rumor of centralizing homeless services in Eureka, coupled with a multicultural county-directed oversight committee, is probably the best answer to date ... not to mention eliminating or better regulating gentrification and building truly “affordable” housing!
“Cold Shoulders,” indeed.
P.S.: If you know of 10-20 weekly hours of paid employment or/and Arcata/Blue Lake apartment around $475 monthly, please reply: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bradley Mack, Arcata
Sweet Spot: *Bradley Mack wins a Bon Boniere sundae for sending our favorite letter of the week.*