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Indybay Feature
Homeless Shelter Crisis in Sonoma County
by Chelsea Turner
Monday Dec 10th, 2018 12:22 PM
A "homeless shelter crisis" was declared by the city council of Sonoma County in a 5-0 vote. Mental illness is another issue that needs to be addressed in the homeless community on top of funding for homeless shelters.
The homeless problem in Sonoma County has been an ongoing issue that seems to only be getting worse. Encampments that have been created by the homeless end up being disbanded by the police. Just last year this happened at the Dollar Tree in Santa Rosa. Just this month there was 5-0 vote by the city council that declared a “homeless shelter crisis.” This will allow the chance for grant funding for the homeless shelters next year. Homelessness is a complicated issue with many factors to take into consideration before making any rash laws or decisions. Of course there are many who some would say that they choose to be homeless but what does that mean? Many homeless deal with some sort of mental illness whether it be schitzophrenia, bipolar, depression, substance abuse, PTSD, psychosis, and more. All of these illnesses can cause someone to feel that they would prefer being homeless. Let’s take substance abuse for example, someone who suffers from addiction will choose their drug or drink over everything. That’s why it’s called a mental illness. They could be living a normal life as a kid and then drugs get a hold of them and all of a sudden they don’t want to be in normal society anymore because of all of the expectations thrown on them. Depression causes people to take very little interest in their well-being and they don’t want to deal with society’s expectations either. Mental illnesses get worse without some type of treatment and many suffer from more than one. Of course the question comes back to how to get someone to want that help. Shelters and a safe place, especially during the rainy seasons, is the first step but adding more social programs to help with mental illness, treatment, and getting free access to healthcare is something to think about. These could be at the shelters or maybe pop-up centers near the existing encampments. Of course California offers free healthcare for homeless but suffering from a mental illness, it could be difficult for them to know how to apply or to know how to ask for help. Applying for free health insurance from anyone requires a proper form of identification like a birth certificate or a social security card which can be difficult because not everyone is carrying that around or maybe they lost it. Like I said earlier, homelessness is a complicated topic and there is a whole string of issues attached to it. This is a problem that can’t be ignored by our community.
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