Got to spend about 45 minutes at one of the homeless camps today, located by the Kmart at Dale Blvd and I-95. Learned a lot.
Some of the things that I learned:
— If you are a private organization that offers a warm overnight place for the homeless to go you might have the county fire department inspecting your premises looking for any building code infraction before anyone can use your facility.
— Propane is the #1 means of cooking and heating, and it is in very short supply. For whatever reason there seems to be some liability with handling propane and so some organizations avoid collecting and distributing it.
— Gifts of water are very important. We all need water. Dehydration is common among the homeless. Water is always good to give and inexpensive.
— Giving money to the homeless is not a good practice. It will seldom get used for good purpose, and can even encourage crime.
— Homeless camps in the area have different community values. The camp by the Staples near to I-95 is considered to be 90% drug users but the camp by the Kmart by I-95 is more family oriented; a number of the camp’s members have jobs and even have children in the camp.
— A demographic study of the homeless in the five main (current) camps has been done by a local church seeking to understand the homeless better.
— There are quite a few private groups organized locally to help the homeless subsist.
— Of great need: durable tents, heavy coats, propane heaters, water and basic easily prepared food (canned soup beats cups of noodle/ramen as water and heating is needed to eat them).
>> I hope to cover the homeless situation more over the next few weeks and months. Am very much in self-education mode. You can read about it but that would be a poor education.
One remark by an assistance organizer stayed with me today. Her background has been working with the homeless for about the last five years as a private group: Many or most of these homeless will always be homeless, for one reason or another. It is a shame however that some accommodation cannot be found where they live homelessly with some dignity and access to some basic services. (Paraphrase, not a quote).
Mystery No Trespass Sign
Homeless by the Kmart are concerned about being evicted from the woodlands where they live. A ‘No Trespass’ sign in English and Spanish was erected about a month ago.
Yesterday a TV news crew came out to a story on the homeless camp. The sign was there when they arrived and it disappeared (as of Sunday, Dec 7th) shortly after they left.