A Response to ‘It is Time to Stop This Madness’

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My letter on the homeless situation in Redding at least brought the problem to the point of discussion, which is good. Obviously there is a problem for which a response is needed for the health of the Redding community and the homeless.

The article regarding the Salt Lake solution was good and presented guidelines that can be part of the Redding solution. Every community has their unique problems and, as such, will have its own solutions. However, there are several basic issues:

•Needs assessment:

  1. Short-term homeless
  2. Long-term homeless
  3. Mentally ill or emotionally needy
  4. Habitual drug addicts and dealers
  5. Lawbreakers
  6. Others

•Respectful housing or facilities that can provide for shelter, food and personal needs

•Appropriate counseling/mentoring

•Oversight/support for individuals

•Program management

Funding for the above may include donations (as with Salt Lake City… churches, businesses, individuals) and possibly taxes. Yes, we are all against added tax. However, with the current problem we are all paying a price in one form or another.

With due respect, not all will be able to be served as capacity and resources may be limited, depending upon the community response.

Public awareness and dialog is a good beginning. The answer will require action and a multifaceted approach involving public, business, churches and individual cooperation. Key aspects may include counselors, mentors, administrators, volunteers, some city ordinances, law enforcement and a person who is solution-oriented to help lead the way.

Please accept this letter as encouragement to come together and help restore lives as much as is possible utilizing the resources the community has to offer.

Now, who will take the lead?

Dennis Mihalka, DDS, Retired

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar cheyenne says:

    Comparing Salt Lake City to Redding has big differences.
    Salt Lake City is a large city with low unemployment, and a state university and huge medical complex and much government offices. Redding doesn’t have that.
    The Mormon church has been the main overseerer of SLC for over 150 years and they have always had programs to help the poor, I know, I grew up there.
    The question in Redding is who will be equivalent of the Mormon church, Bethel, McConnell, Tea Party or some other organization?
    When I first moved to Redding it reminded me of the Salt Lake City of my youth with the mountain background. SLC may not be as hot as Redding but it is hot, I know I worked flat work concrete.
    Redding needs a Mormon church equivalent to be in charge and take control of all the different factions.
    Disclaimer, I am not or have ever been a Mormon.

  2. Avatar Richard says:

    Thank you, Dr. Mihalka, for your previous letter and this followup with its excellent suggestions. Several things have been made clear during the past two weeks during which we have attended Chief Paoletti’s Town hall meeting, a City Council meeting, Neighborhood Watch get together, a symposium on homelessness at the Redding Library, a night time ride along with and RPD officer, and discussions with business owners and city residents.

    Concerns about crime, trash, the plight of the homeless, and the perception of an overall deterioration in the quality of life seem pervasive. It is our hope that the collective frustrations we hear are directed toward positive strategies such as you have outlined.

    Many of us are willing to financially support transitional housing and/or a day shelter for homeless individuals, if reasonable rules can be created and enforced, appropriate screening is done, the area is kept clean and trash-free, and public/private provider protected from litigation. But the illicit behaviors of some, such as theft of shopping carts, leaving trash, using/dealing drugs, and public intoxication do nothing to elicit empathy from those citizens whose businesses, parks, neighborhoods, and public places are being negatively impacted.

    Perhaps some homeless individuals would be willing, with proper equipment furnished, to join cleanup brigades to assist us in collecting the large amounts of trash we see, and helping to beautify Redding. Their efforts would no doubt receive praise, and potentially stimulate a more generous civic spirit which could lead to further improvements.

  3. Avatar Karen C says:

    I retired from the City of Redding in the late 1980’s having served as the Volunteer Program Manager. One morning, I had a couple of homeless fellows come into my trialer, located on a scary back lot and out of view of the rest of city hall. They had an idea…they wanted to help clean up the city streets after events such as parades. They asked for plastic bags, or other type of bag that they could collect trash and deliver it to a specific location for pick-up. I agreed to take their request to the city manager. I did so and the answer was, NO. The reason behind that was liability. What if one of the men picked up a needle, knife, or some other object that injured them. What if they fell while doing their job for the City…..

    It always comes to liability….

  4. Avatar Sally says:

    Happy to see you still keep track of our community. We all want solutions, but the issues are all a little different and need individual distinct perspectives brought to the table, as seems to be attempted at the moment. We keep praying that a rational and workable solution comes to fruition. I love that your office crew remained when you left – they are the best!

  5. Avatar david kerr says:

    I hope young college graduates see that no progress will be made in crime and drug ridden Shasta, Tehama, Butte and Yuba counties. America is a highly mobile society and there are places with better prospects.

  6. Avatar Gerry says:

    Humboldt State in Arcata has implemented a similar day program with students serving as volunteers. The result has been in increase in the homeless population due to the ease of obtaining services.

    This is not something I wish to happen in Redding.

    • Avatar Bob says:

      I’m quite sure you do not have reliable data on this. Communities with effective services for the homeless actually have a DECREASE in their homeless populations. Salt Lake City is but one example.

      Folks who simply make things up do not further the conversation we need to be having.

  7. Avatar Curious says:

    I heard about a community that enhanced their services to help the homeless with a caveat, the recipient had to show they were from the community (some sort of history in the community, such as current or recent employment, had attended a local school, children enrolled in local school for minimum amount of time, drivers license, immediate family in the area – something to show they have lived in the community and are a part of the community for at least a year or two).

    The goal was to focus services on local people falling on hard times and truly help them, and one way to pay for it was to reduce services (spend less on) those wandering into town recently. This may be a way to help ‘our own’ while not attracting people to move here to access quality services or to live off the generosity they’ve heard our community offers.

    In the example I heard about the local agencies, nonprofits, churches, etc all bought into the concept and used the same definition of being from the community. Also the Mayor made a clear and public stance that transients were not welcome in town (while agencies focused on getting the local people housed).

    Now if I could just remember where that was so I could try to find out if it was working…