Homelessness Is Elizabeth Betancourt’s First Priority, Cold Turkey Off Opioids and the Shasta County BOS Vape Panic

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If elected to Assembly District 1, tackling homelessness will be Elizabeth Betancourt’s first priority.

What’s California’s biggest problem, the one shared by big cities and small towns alike? Homelessness. From Los Angeles to Redding, the number of people living on the streets is on the rise, and a large percentage of them are either mentally ill, drug-addicted or both.

These are the addicts defecating and discarding syringes on the streets of Hollywood, San Francisco and Redding, the mentally ill men and women mumbling to themselves as they block business doorways, the sketchy thugs who prey on the weak and defenseless, all of them the legacy of decades of societal neglect.

How many homeless people fall into those categories, the mentally ill and the drug-addicted? All of them, or at least most of the 59,000 homeless people in Los Angeles, according to a recent three-part series in Forbes by Michael Shellenberger.

That percentage sounds a little high to me, but I agree with Shellenberger’s conclusion that Gov. Gavin Newsom should declare a state of emergency to address the homelessness crisis.

Doing so would permit the state to circumvent regulations in order to provide affordable housing units as well as expand existing mental health services and drug rehabilitation programs, the latter of which are in high demand due to the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic.

I don’t know how many of Shasta County’s estimated 1200 homeless are mentally ill and/or addicted to drugs, but there’s only one candidate running in the Assembly District 1 special election Nov. 5 who’s made tackling the homelessness crisis her number one priority: Elizabeth Betancourt.

Speaking at the League of Women Voter’s candidate forum in Redding earlier this month, Betancourt said she made the issue her priority because it was one of the main concerns expressed by her potential constituents in the district.

“I’ve already been talking to people who know a lot about housing provisions, homelessness issues in general, drug addiction issues specifically, affordability—how do we get to place where we can provide these things for people who need them, but also ensure our streets and communities are safe.”

One thing’s for certain: That place is a very, very long way from where we are today. Good thing Betancourt’s got a head start. Don’t forget to vote Tuesday, Nov. 5.

One harbinger of the opioid crisis, the fentanyl transdermal patch.

When In Crisis … Panic!

It goes without saying that the opiate abuse epidemic is a crisis all on its own, in addition to its contribution to homelessness. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 130 people die every day after overdosing on an opioid, including heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and oxycontin, and other prescription pain killers.

One response to the opioid crisis has been to sue the literal pants off the opioid manufacturers and the pharmacy conglomerates such as CVS and Walgreens that distribute their highly addictive products. More than 2500 cities, counties, tribal authorities and individuals across the U.S. have joined a federal consolidated class action lawsuit known as the National Prescription Opiate Litigation.

Defendants include the nation’s biggest opioid manufacturers, such as Johnson & Johnson and Mallinckrodt, the latter of which donated $1500 to Megan Dahle’s AD-1 campaign. They’re joined by three of Big Pharma’s largest opioid distributors, McKesson, Cardinal Health and Amerisource.

The first of what is expected to be several cases in the consolidated litigation was settled last month just before trial when the opioid manufacturers and distributors agreed to pay plaintiffs in two Ohio counties $260 million for the harm caused by their products.

That money, presuming it all trickles down to those who need it, will come in handy repairing the damage caused by opioids in the Midwest. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical distributors such as Walgreens and CVC are panicking lest more communities and individuals join in on the opioid litigation bandwagon.

One undesired result? Your friendly neighborhood Walgreens or CVC may deny your doctor-prescribed opioid, even if you suffer from cancer or chronic pain or are just taking a long time to get over an injury, even if your doctor writes a lengthy note to the pharmacist declaring you’re a legitimate patient and not a drug addict.

That’s exactly what happened to a friend of mine recently. My friend has severe chronic pain from four failed back surgeries and has been on the same dosage fentanyl patch for five years.

The trouble began in July when Owens Healthcare, the last locally owned pharmacy chain in Shasta County, sold out to CVS and Rite Aid. After filling the prescription at Owens for years with no problem, my friend was rejected first by Rite Aid and then CVC.

Pharmacies that might fill my friend’s prescription aren’t on the insurance, so that leaves one option: going cold turkey off the fentanyl patch, which is basically the same thing as kicking heroin.

It’s no way to run a health care system, but that’s what happens when people, in this case the opioid manufacturers and their distributors, freak out. Panic is never pretty.

My vape rig with the juice.

The Great Vape Panic

Speaking of freaking out about addictive substances, the Shasta County Board of Supervisors is apparently considering banning the sale of all flavored nicotine vape juice in the county, even within incorporated city limits, to consenting adults, a move that can only be described as panic-stricken.

Full disclosure: I used to smoke cigarettes, but for the past 2 years I’ve been vaping flavored nicotine vape juice of the sort the county wants to ban. This involves filling the tank of my battery-powered vape rig with flavored nicotine vape juice, hitting the ignition, and inhaling the cloud of steam when it hits the atomizer.

True, it’s not really steam, it’s whatever you get when you mix propylene glycol and glycerin over a Bunsen burner, plus nicotine, which I enjoy. I also enjoy the billowing, perfumed clouds one produces on exhalation.

I know vaping is bad for me, but it’s a hell of a lot healthier than smoking cigarettes. Eventually, I’ll taper down the nicotine to zero and quit. There’s a lot of people just like me here in Shasta County.

Flavored nicotine vape juice is currently available at dozens of local smoke shops. I frequent Smoker’s Paradise on Hilltop because it’s convenient and they have my favorite brand, Vapetasia’s Killer Kustard in regular, strawberry or blueberry flavor, with 6 mg of nicotine. This regulated product is not for everyone, especially those under 21, who are prohibited from buying it.

The supervisors say they’re considering the ban for the kids, that is, those under 21, who are apparently vaping more than they’re smoking these days, especially those rebellious high-schoolers.

A more likely explanation is the Supes are riding the wave of hysteria surrounding recently reported deaths that may have been caused by vaping black market marijuana vape juice, not the products sold over the counter in smoke shops and retail marijuana outlets.

Obviously, I’m biased—quitting nicotine cold turkey is worse than kicking heroin—but I’m not the only one calling the vape crisis a hysteria, fake news.

Politico, Bloomberg and The National Review all agree: Outright banning the sale of flavored nicotine vape juice to consenting adults is a bad idea, based on what we know about the relative harm between vaping nicotine and smoking cigarettes.

Chill-out Board of Supervisors. The only thing a ban on the sale of flavored nicotine vape juice to consenting adults in Shasta County will do is drive more people, including kids, to smoke cigarettes.

Me personally? I’ll just switch to unflavored nicotine vape juice, which apparently would still be legal, while menthol cigarettes would be banned.

Go figure.

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas. He can be emailed at RVScheide@anewscafe.com.
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74 Responses

  1. Avatar Monique says:

    I am on board to help someone with the same ideals as I…..because it’s the right thing to do! My mother all her life suffered from mental illness and then became a drug addicts homeless woman trying to raise her two kids….and I don’t want that to happen to others….at a young age I couldn’t help my mother, be ause I didn’t know better…..well I know now, my voice counts, and it would be my pleasure to walk for the Happy Valley woman…..Saturday at 10….for sure!

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Monique, sounds like your mom was dealing with the dismantling of the public mental health system that began in the 1960s. The state, in a bipartisan effort, began closing the large mental institutions, but as so often happens in California, didn’t follow up with increased local care. The same thing is happening with decriminalizing drug addicts. We lack both treatment centers and a unified method of treatment. AA and NA supposedly fill the gap, even though 12-step programs are not all that effective. We need somebody like Elizabeth Betancourt who has the capability of understanding this complex problem and just might be able to do something about it.

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

        This almost exclusive focus on the highly-visible mentally ill and substance-addicted minority (often one and the same) reminds me of “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair. His book exposed horrors beyond imagining suffered by thousands of workers in meat packing plants, yet the only response from the general public was to demand that those atrocities not affect the quality of the meat they ate.

        At any given time during the past 15 years (since the City or Redding’s massive gentrification binge), one-fourth to one-third of the local homeless population has been comprised of children. Those economic victims are typically part of families headed by lone women, for whom drug addiction and mental illness is not an issue. Are they standing on street corners yelling gibberish at passers-by or committing minor property crimes? Perhaps not. However, in a desperate effort to spare their children the extreme dangers and hardships of the streets these women are forced to turn to whatever sleazy man offers to take them in (which is laughingly referred to as “staying with friends” or “couch-surfing”), until he becomes too abusive and degrading, when they’re forced to flee to the next abusive living arrangement. They hope for the best, but more often than not experience the worst.

        There is also the large and growing elderly homeless element, who suffer and die in silence. Even the Mission won’t take the infirm and disabled elderly, whose modest fixed incomes provide them with few housing alternatives, and who are rejected by landlords in general. Quite a few local elderly/disabled people have been victims of the “Bethel effect”, in which rental property owners have given existing tenants the boot in order to rent to crowds of Bethel students and other cult followers at much higher rents than the elderly person can afford.

        The needs of the homeless are being addressed in direct proportion to which element most inconveniences the “housed” majority. According to every comprehensive local, state, and national survey, substance-addicted/mentally ill homeless people comprise – at most – only about one-third of that population. Locally and state-wide that figure is closer to 18 percent. Drug treatment funding is usually more available than other types of funding, which gives us a predominence of drug rehabs (like Shasta County’s only so-called “homeless shelter”, the Rescue Mission, in which drug addicts are prioritized for its very limited space) and not much else.

  2. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I’ve never been a cigarette smoker or vaper. My only touchstones involve cultural aesthetics: Smoking a cigarette like Bogart on the big screen or Keith Richards banging out the opening riff to a song looks kinda cool. Vaping doesn’t. (Though, there’s an intense Scotsman in the Netflix show “Catastrophe” who looks cool vaping, but only because he’s an intense Scotsman speaking in a Scottish brogue.)

    I personally know a few people who are quitting cigarettes via vaping. They all swear by it. As soon as the reports off vaping deaths started to emerge, my reaction was: So what? Check out the number of deaths from cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse.

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      Yeah, vaping ain’t harmless, but who thinks it’s *more* harmful than cigarettes?

      I’m not a smoker, but I came close to picking up the habit in the military. I started bumming cigs from classmates to stay awake during flight school classroom sessions. After a few weeks of that, the oldest guy in our class literally grabbed me by the shoulders and told me that he’d picked up the habit the same way, by bumming cigs from others.

      I took his admonishment to heart, quit bumming smokes, and doubled down on caffeine. I’ll always be grateful to Conrad for giving enough of a sh*t to counsel a young guy, and I hope he’s still out there and doing well.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      It’s true vaping isn’t as cool as smoking, although the more compact JUUL is not as obtru

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        Obtrusive as a full vape rig. The best thing is vaping doesn’t take as long as smoking.

        • Avatar Gary Tull says:

          My concern with vaping would be the risk of consuming a synthetic and under- regulated product that has little or zero info on it’s packaging as to what it’s composed of. Of course reports of folks being poisoned and dying from such products is problematic and disturbing.

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            Gary, as I pointed out in the column, it’s black market marijuana vape juice that is connected to the deaths, as this story verifies, in this case it’s CBD. The black market now is currently flooded with bogus CBD products and this is one of them. They should not be on the shelf of any reputable marijuana retailer in California.

            Needless to say, this is a completely different animal than the flavored nicotine vape juice you can buy at the smoke shop. It’s regulated, all the ingredients are on the packaging. People aren’t dying from it. Doctors unanimously agree that vaping is way safer than smoking cigarettes.

  3. Avatar Doug Cook says:

    Is Betancourt willing to get tough with the street people? Can we start separating the homeless that truly need our help from the bums and addicts that litter our streets? The failure of cities like SF, Portland and LA is that they allow abhorrent behavior. They allow the street people to take over blocks and blocks. I am in Portland today, walking from my hotel to my favorite restaurant I have to navigate through a minimum of 30 or so street people in various stages of intoxication on urine soaked streets. A month or so ago I passed a woman defecating next to a trash can, a block later a man was projectile vomiting. By the time I got to the restaurant I lost my appetite and just ordered coffee. I chatted to the manager about this, and she expressed frustration with the city government.l, that they don’t care about the businesses that have to live in this filth
    Moral of the story is, that these progressive cities and liberal policies concerning the homeless is not working. It is making the problem worse. That is why half the homeless in the country live in Ca. Citizens, even in the progressive cities have had enough of this and demand action.

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      According to a recent study by UCLA (and many other studies), the primary cause of California’s homeless crisis is the fact that it has the highest housing costs in the continental United States. For every 5 percent hike in California’s ever-rocketing rental prices, an additional two thousand people are forced into homelessness. It’s also – by far – the most populace state in the nation, which rental property owners have exploited to the hilt by sending rents into the stratosphere.

      Also according to that study, 26 percent of California’s homeless population is serverely mentally ill, while only 18 percent (often one and the same) chronically abuse drugs. These figures closely reflect independent surveys conducted by local service providers and medical professionals who work with the entire spectrum of Shasta County’s homeless population on a daily basis.

      And also in keeping with local figures, 75 percent of the homeless in L.A. County were housed residents of the area before becoming homeless, and not simply people who wandered into the area from other states or regions.

      The local rental vacancy rate was less than 2 percent even before last year’s devastating fires. NIMBYist local officials have fought tooth-and-nail to keep more adequate homeless facilities out of the area, and have had to be forced by the State to allow even a minimal amount of low-income housing. Homelessness skyrocketed by a whopping four hundred percent following the City of Redding’s gentrification binge in the last decade (which involved the destruction of vast sections of lower-end housing to increase the local tax base), and the area has never recovered.

      Redding has far fewer alternatives to the street than other cities of at least comparable size, which is largely responsible for its outsized per-capita homeless population. In areas where minimal housing is provided, calls for emergency services, hospital emergency room visits, and minor property crime plummet, and local taxpayers save millions of dollars a year in the process.


      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        Thanks once again for the extensive background Patrecia. I know homelessness is your bailiwick!

      • Avatar Tim says:

        Democratic policies are why it costs ~$220k to build an entry level new home in California vs ~$160k in places like Missouri. And come next year, you can add another ~$20-30k to the price of California homes due to the solar panel mandate.

        The local Habitat for Humanity has been siphoning money for projects in Africa and hasn’t built a single house in almost a decade. And our schools are teaching teenagers that college is the only way to a good life and actively encouraging kids to avoid learning the building trades.

        PS: Utah’s “Housing First” program blew itself up by spending all it’s money to temporarily hide the problem. Homelessness is once again a huge problem. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-homelessness-housing-idUSKCN1P41EQ

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:


          Did you read the article you linked? It’s actually a glowing recommendation for Housing First. The problem is that the State of Utah basically stopped maintaining the program nearly ten years ago, after reducing homelessness by 91 percent.

          In the meantime housing costs have shot up while wages remained stagnant, which of course created new homeless people. I particularly like the very truthful quote that “As long as our economic system creates homelessness, we’re going to have to figure out a way to respond”.

          The State is now planning to spend (waste) $67 million to revamp the emergency shelter system, which is actually recognized as the failure it is. A bond measure also failed which would have allocated money to continue the Housing First program. This all reveals bad priorities on both the State and the voter’s part.

          It’s also interesting that you mentioned the embezzlement of funds from the local Habitat for Humanity chapter for projects in Africa. The Habitat director who has been siphoning off those funds is being represented at local meetings by a woman who runs a “ministry” for Bethel Church, and much of that money has gone to finance a church school in Africa named “God is Good” (the title of one of Bethel leader Bill Johnson’s books).

        • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

          Actually Utah’s Housing didn’t blow it’s money. Salt Lake has fallen into the same trap many prospering cities, read Tech, have fallen into. Housing First relied on landlords, during the recession, to rent their units at affordable rents to former homeless people. As the Tech economy boomed, like Denver, that brought in highly skilled workers who could afford to pay more and right now zoning laws are being changed to raise the “affordable rents” which will drive out the former homeless.
          Homeless shelters are like infrastructure, it has to be kept up. The two women campaigning for Salt Lake’s next mayor are more concerned with economy then homeless. In the opinion section in the Tribune is a call for rent control.
          In Aspen, Colorado affordable housing is $1 million forcing school teachers, police, fire to live far from their jobs. In Jackson Hole, Wyoming the school district built homes on school property so teachers could afford to live close to the schools.
          This is part of the income inequality in the nation that needs to be addressed. When someone goes to College, giving time and money, to earn a degree in a skilled profession they shouldn’t have to rely on assistance programs to live.

        • Avatar Tim says:

          Utah’s housing first squandered its funding to make a big show about how successful it was — it wasn’t a success; it couldn’t keep a budget and it ultimately failed. They put homeless people in 2,600 homes and were surprised when more homeless people kept showing up each year while those in the original 2,600 units didn’t go anywhere.

          “But only if it had unlimited resources…” It didn’t. And we don’t… This isn’t the new “woke math” — there is a limit to what we have and lines must be drawn. Letting people live for free (or next to it) with zero responsibilities is unsustainable.

          • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

            Tim, your one and done article from outside sources doesn’t, like you do, doesn’t present a clear picture. I follow Salt Lake news because I’m from there. The Housing First was a success, it got homeless people off the street. The downfall was because the economy rose and there were less options available. Unlike Redding where it seems doubtful the city will recover with it’s present leadership. Those former homeless became working tax paying citizens with a helping hand.
            A hand up, not a hand out. That is success.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:


            Paying a third of the rent isn’t “living free”. In addition, Housing First programs actually have a high success rate. They provide supportive services to people who are then in a position to benefit from them. It’s truly amazing what a difference the safety and stability of housing can make. These people are no longer frantically struggling through each day to meet their most basic needs, while suffering from malnutrition, extreme sleep deprivation, illness, the trauma of violence, lack of sanitation, etc. etc. etc.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          The failure of our local Habitat for Humanity can be traced to: (1) its über-shady director, and (2) its über-shady board who were supposed to oversee the über-shady director.

          It has very little to do with anything else.


          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            That was one of the few truly journalistic articles the RS ever published. However, when you go beyond that to follow the money and the connections, a more detailed pictures emerges.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Note to Doug: we have the exact same problems in Shasta County, which last time I checked has been run by conservatives for decades. Getting tough on drug addicts by incarcerating them has been proved a bipartisan failure. It’s time to clean up the mess, stop blaming “the state” and take advantage of the state’s leverage.

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        This is a state crisis, not a local one. By the simple fact that half of all homeless in the country live in our state. It looks like the insane decision by the 9th Circuit Court may get reviewed by the SCOTUS. A coalition of 33 California counties and cities is asking the Supreme Court to review the court’s ruling that cities cannot arrest or punish people for sleeping on public property unless adequate shelter space is available. That was a horrible decision that handcuffs cities in cleaning up the streets.

        Look what is happening in LA. Voters approved $1.2 billion spending to fund 10,000 new units of supportive housing for the homeless. What has happened in the 3 years since the funding was approved? The planned 10,000 homes is now only 5,800, with very few actually been built…3 years later, the median cost per unit of supportive housing is $531,373 per unit…that is PER apartment! Who do you suppose is getting rich off of that project? Take advantage of the state’s leverage? What leverage? What has the state done to ‘clean up the mess? Nothing. Every city up and down the coast is being overrun by bums and addicts and you want to just blame conservatives in one small city?

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:


          So you believe that people should be arrested, thrown in jail, and saddled with a criminal record because they have no alternative to sleeping on the streets? That tells us a lot about your character.

          California not only has the highest housing costs, but the largest population, which is a good part of the reason it has such a big homeless population.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            If you cut the rents in Redding in half, the street people, the bums and addicts that litter our streets won’t be rushing to get a home. You admitted awhile ago that in the 70’s South Park was home for criminals and drug users. Those were your words. Fast forward to today, the drug problem is much worse.
            So what do I believe? That we shouldn’t allow bums and addicts to litter our streets, I believe that our parks should be for kids and families, not bums and addicts.
            Coming back fro Portland yesterday I stopped in Roseburg Or. The streets look like Redding and every other mid level city in the west coast. street people on every corner. The average rent in Roseburg is $650. So no, it’s not the high cost of housing. It is that police are not allowed to deal with the problem. Where should they go? I don’t care, anywhere but here.
            Yes, California has a large population…Oregon doesn’t, Washington doesn’t, and the homeless population keeps growing and growing. Portland has tons of available housing for the homeless…but there are blocks and blocks of tents littering the sidewalks, . I’m certain the SCOTUS will take 5 minutes to toss out that 9th Circuit decision, that will do wonders in cleaning up our streets.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:


            The average rent in Portand is $1,522.00. It would take a well-paid professional to meet the standard requirement of income three times the amount of THAT rent.

            In addition, your constant use of the word “bums” is tiring. Many of those “bums” are veterans with brain injuries and other disabilities. In fact, a considerable number of homeless men suffer from traumatic brain injury, whether from military service, childhood abuse, etc. That type of disability is also fairly common among the aged-out foster youth who make up “a large share” of the local homeless population, according to the local HHSA.

            A good number are also severey mentally ill, and receive no help from Shasta County Mental Health. Instead they’re hounded to the hellfire-and-brimstone over-crowded Rescue Mission, where they are practiced on by volunteers from a local religious “college”.

            And despite your attempts to demonize them all, there are also quite a few people who wound up homeless following a catestrophic injury or illness, people who lost a job, and (like millions of other people in this country) were only a paycheck or two away from homelessness, those who saw increases in their rent and/or utility payments that the endless number of low-wage jobs in this country wouldn’t cover, some who are simply bounced from their housing with no reason given (common in Redding by property owners who can make more money by renting to crowds of Bethel students than most local families and individuals can afford to pay), domestic violence victims, etc. Even the substance-addicted (a smaller percentage than most people assume) are rarely ONLY that.

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            Doug Cook says Redding doesn’t have a homeless problem. Ponder that one for a while.

    • Avatar Gary Tull says:

      R.V., I stand corrected for not differentiating these two sorts of vape.

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        No problem Gary. There’s a lot of confusing information and misinformation flying around about the cause of these illnesses and deaths.

  4. Avatar Annelise says:

    Your full vaping disclosure much appreciated. Although it does read a little like an ad for your favorite brand and variety of the stuff.) 😉

    And what exactly does Betancourt plan to DO about homelessness? Conservatives will say she will try the same things liberals have tried for years – with catastrophic results. I mean I’m glad she’s thinking about it but I always like to hear some ideas to show us her thinking will lead in a positive direction.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Betancourt appears to be focusing on drug treatment, which is lacking in the wake of drug abuse decriminalization. The state and our county have not followed through as planned. The truth is, neither liberals of conservatives have done anything to address this issue for decades.

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

        Supportive Housing First programs have by far the best results and the highest success rates (far more so than over-crowded, dormitory-style Rescue Mission shelters, which lean heavily on punish-the-sinner religion, and is mainly all Shasta County has to offer).

        However, the residents of overwhelmingly right-wing Shasta County (including Shasta Support Services) are very much against doing anything to address homelessness that doesn’t require the homeless to basically curing themselves of their mental illnesses/substance addictions before receiving any help, which is virtually impossible while dealing with severe physical hardship, mind-boggling stress, violence, extreme sleep deprivation, malnourishment, and constant illnesses associated with homelessness. Housing in some form is the first step toward positive change.

        • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

          The stress alone caused by homelessness would drive anyone to drink, if they weren’t drinking to begin with. Finding a job, finding a place and curing yourself of mental health issues or drug addiction in a tall mountain climb, and it’s no wonder so many people end up on the bottom.

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        RV, in order for drug treatment to work, the user wants to get off of drugs and/or alcohol. Even then, it is a tough road. How many of the street people want to get off of drugs. My guess is not many.
        I go back to my original premise that Annelise touched on. For decades in our state, it was the liberals that attempted to curb homelessness, because as we know, conservatives have no power in this state. It is evident that their approach is not working, matter of fact it is making the problem worse. Citizens, even from liberal enclaves have had enough and they want something done about this crisis. California has turned into a third world country with the return of medieval diseases. Sorry…it is time for a different tactic. We all know how enabling alcoholics and addicts is not the right thing to do. But that is exactly what we have been doing. Giving money to a panhandler is just allowing him to buy drugs and alcohol. It is not helping them. Allowing them to live on our streets, to harass citizens, to sleep in front of store fronts is not helping them.
        You mentioned that Forbes article that points out the cost per unit of homeless housing. I would certainly want to live in a $500,000 apartment some day. There are a lot of people getting rich off of the homeless. The homeless industrial complex is alive and well, and they are not helping the homeless.

        • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

          Doug the point of the article was that the proposed apartments were so expensive, much fewer units will be built, no where even close to meeting the demand.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Yes, I agree with that..it also points to the Homeless Industrial Complex. A new industry making tons of money off the homeless. LA allocated $1.2 billion for low income housing…3 years later, not one home has been built yet, “…most projects that received – or will receive – funding commitments have not been formally awarded loans using Proposition HHH funds and have not yet begun construction.”

        • Avatar Chrissy says:

          Why are you so quick to place blame? Pointing fingers is the least helpful thing you could be doing. Since you’re part of the problem should we throw you in jail too?

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      I wonder what the right-wing solution is? I haven’t heard anything from right-wingers other than lowering wages to supposedly create more jobs (which is a big part of the problem. Non-living wage jobs don’t support the cost of housing), telling homeless people to just pull themselves up by their own bootstraps (anyone who is broke and homeless needs a considerable amount of outside help), or even just to “come to God” (it’s a lot easier to just pretend the homeless are “sinful” than to address things like the economy, high prices, low wages, domestic violence, catastrophic illness, etc. etc.)

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        At the League of Women Voters forum, Megan Dahle implied that local charities are totally capable of handling the local homeless problem. Her husband has said no tax money should be spent to help the homeless, because government is bad. Megan also said the state doesn’t have enough money to, say, provide rudimentary health services to undocumented immigrants and tackle the homeless problem at the same time. In other words, homelessness is not on Megan Dahle’s radar.

  5. Avatar Candace says:

    Rather than parrot conservative criticism of liberal policies my advice for those asking what Betancourt plans to do about homelessness is simple. Ask her.

  6. Avatar Robert Scheide Sr. says:

    STOP! Consider for one moment you wake up tomorrow homeless. I did this the other day, Lord knows why and I came away, scared. I’m 82, losing skills daily. Outside of comfortable camping, I have no experience in outdoor survival.

    Often when driving around Redding I see people who look like they won’t make it around the block, somehow they do, as I see the same people often. How they end up on the street is varied . PTSD, drugs, job loss or maybe just bad luck.

    When asked what they are going to do about it they plead there is no money, one should ask where they get the money to keep them in prison. We could handle this problem, but we are turning into a heartless nation. Utah of all places has solved their homeless problem by building housing for them. Our governor could by declaring an emergency to get extra funds to solve this problem.


    This problem is typical of the government’s hamfisted fix to a problem. First, they did not monitor the sale of a drug they knew was addicting. Anywhere in the distribution of this drug they could have caught those illegally selling too many of them. For example, a small drug store in Anderson sold the most opioids in the country. Had to be seeable from a long way off. Just one of many.

    Now if you are one of the unfortunate that have been prescribed these drugs for real live pain and are now addicted and suddenly they cut you off completely. Panic, of course. Trying for six weeks to get an answer to what was going on, back and forth between doctor and pharmacy, at time I felt like I was not part of the debate. The pharmacy involved knew all along they were not going to give out the patches but didn’t have the balls to say so.

    The government rules suggest that a controlled method to get off the drug be used which amounted to a gradual reduction of the drug which is the proper method. Instead drugstores are just cutting you off completely. Now anybody who has cold turkey off of for instance cigarettes know how hard that is. Took a quad bypass to get me to quit. 3 of 4 local drug stores won’t do any Fentanyl. CVS will at least consider it if you have a legit reason.


    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Dad, I didn’t agree with everything in the Forbes series I linked to in the story, but I do agree the governor should declare a state of emergency.

    • Avatar Chrissy says:

      I know more than one person who was given opiates legitimately, took them for years, and suddenly got cut off due to new regulations. That led to severe withdrawal and sickness. I can easily see why one would turn to heroin to stop being sick.

  7. Avatar Candace says:

    Robert Scheide Sr., I agree with you that the thought of being homeless is a terrifying one and I count my lucky stars that I’m not. I also agree with you that while we have a tragic epidemic of opioid addiction, opiates are a legitimate necessity for pain management for a lot of people. It seems like we hear mostly about the drug companies and drug stores being complicit in the epidemic but hear very little about the folks who were over-prescribing them. Of course I’m in no way saying most doctors were doing this but at the same time it’s not like doctors weren’t aware until recently that opioids can be addictive. Supply equals demand. Red flags all around.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Medicare For All could change this state of affairs, by cutting out all the wheeling and dealing done by Big Pharma and its middle-men. It would be far easier to monitor patients with a universal system. It will also save trillions in health care costs over the long run.

  8. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    Homelessness is a huge problem nationwide. Solutions vary from Seattle proposing $1 million to fund busing the homeless elsewhere to LA’s tax, favored by many, to aid the homeless. When homeless shelters and affordable housing are brought up Nimbyism rears up.
    Utah, you do not get more right wing conservative religious than Utah, has their Homeless First, touted nationwide, to solve homelessness. The Mormon Church aided in starting and still aids the program, but the church doesn’t run it. Maybe that is the secret to it’s success. The homeless have not disappeared from the streets in Utah but they have been scaled back.
    Maybe that is the secret, help those you can and keep them off the street. Trying to end all homelessness is impossible in one wave of the hand.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Bruce, if you didn’t read the Forbes series I linked to, you should. In LA, the NIBMYism resulted in “affordable” condos that cost more than $500,000 per unit to build! Because they had to look nice inside and out to fit the neighborhood. Declaring a state of emergency could allow us to go around that sort of nonsense.

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        RV, no I didn’t read the Forbes article. I watched a NBC two hour news special on homelessness in LA. Reporters did an in depth feature, the best I have seen, that covered all aspects of homelessness including a tour with a homeless advocate who was homeless. The main take of the article was that people in LA would fund a special tax to help the homeless but Nimbyism asks where.
        Look at Redding, where would you put up a homeless shelter? I read all this criticism of the Rescue Mission but where would you put the homeless? Talking about Utah or LA or Seattle or Cheyenne doesn’t help Redding. And what works elsewhere may not work in Redding.
        In Cheyenne, Utah and here in Phoenix, churches step up to help big time. The Mega Church in Redding seems to be totally absent from helping the homeless and according to some on here actually contributes to homelessness. What works in Chico probably wouldn’t work in Redding.

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

          The thousands of Bethel students and other of its adherents who have flooded the area in recent years, and Bethel’s complete refusal to provide any housing for those thousands of people (which also won’t be part of its upcoming $148 Million 39-acre mega-church campus) is a BIG contributor to the local shortage of housing, skyrocketing housing costs, poverty, and homelessness.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Patrecia, there are right around 2,000 students enrolled in Bethel, with most of them leaving the area after 2 years. And as you often repeat, apartments are crammed with students. So with that being said, I doubt Bethel affects housing very much in Redding. My guess there are more illegal aliens taking up low income housing in Redding than Bethel students.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            Doug Cook,

            Bethel “students” who leave the area after a few years are (of course) immediately replaced by thousands more. There are also all the gullible marks who come from around the world for Bethel’s healing scam and other unproven “miracles”. Quite a few rental properties have been taken off the market, to be turned into high-priced short-term rentals for those people.

            And you can’t seriously believe that there are more “illegal aliens” in a place like Redding than the thousands of mega-cult followers. Typical hysterical right-wing paranoia.

  9. Avatar Katie says:

    Yesterday I saw a pretty down-and-out couple be pulled over by RPD. About an hour later, their car was towed and the couple were left in a parking lot with all of their belongings (more than what they could carry), plug two dogs. What good did any of it do?

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Obviously, it did the couple no good. Sounds like the registration on their car finally ran out, they couldn’t afford it anymore. I wonder how cops feel when they do this kind of stuff?

      • Avatar Tim says:

        Driving without insurance is the most likely cause of a roadside impound where the driver remains free. Your registration has to lapse for more than 6 months before police can impound your car on a public road.

        Vehicle registration fees ultimately end up paying police salaries so officers are pretty motivated to enforce those laws. And police cruisers are increasingly being equipped with license plate readers which can automatically alert the officer when a car has expired insurance or registration (in addition to warrants, amber alerts, etc).

  10. Avatar Joshua Brown says:

    I commend her taking a stance to declare homelessness an emergency. She should also support declaring poverty an emergency (California is #1 in poverty) because poverty/greed is the real cause of homelessness.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Joshua, to be clear, Elizabeth Betancourt did not support declaring a state of emergency, the writer from Forbes is advocating that, and I agree with him. The Forbes writer in my opinion completely exaggerated the amount of mental illness and drug addiction in the homeless population, and I agree with you: poverty and homelessness obviously go hand in hand.

  11. If you would like to help the homeless the little Light House Church in downtown Redding is helping the homeless in several ways which is crucial since all church’s have been stopped from feeding the homeless in the parks of Redding, some preaching feeding and giving away survival gear for almost 20 years.

    You can also meet several people including a woman who were attacked and kicked in face while sleeping in the downtown Redding parking lot at this church as well….

    Would a newscafe news reporters be interested in interviews of these poor souls local news turns their back on ?

    Find them here …….


  12. Avatar Colleen Adams says:

    When my husband was in residency at Mercy in Redding a few years ago, he had a homeless patient who had a rotting foot. He had no feeling in it, it was rotting, and it had maggots living in it. The foot had to be amputated. It was the second worst thing my husband has seen as a doctor (the first was related to meth use and pregnancy, also in Shasta County). I don’t care what state that individual was in… mentally ill, drunk, addicted to drugs… he sure as hell never imagined himself like that when he was a little boy. He never wanted to be that way and he deserves some help getting out of that situation, regardless of how he got in it. Also related, when we lived in Redding, a dad in my daughter’s class lost everything fast… long story. A dad with several kids. We let him live with us because he had no family and really NO OPTIONS and we had an extra bedroom. In a little less than a a year he got it together, and recently he started his own company and has a beautiful home. Who really knows, but what if he hadn’t had any support at all? He could have ended up much worse than he is today… depressed and stressed to the point of “crazy,” possibly dependent on alcohol, losing his kids, and maybe even having a necrotic foot! I think many homeless people just don’t have the support that others are lucky enough to have. Now we live in Sacramento, and the homeless population is just huge. REALLY SAD. I think it really should be a state of emergency.

    • Avatar Colleen Adams says:

      And while we were living in Redding, I am pretty sure that the dude who actually started up Housing First came and talked to City Council. That was in maybe 2016 or 17. Of course he had DATA! Data showing the financial benefits and of course the basic human goodness benefits of the Housing First program. But alas, his efforts at facilitating any change just went down the drain.

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

        Thank you Colleen (how horrifying). Why does society allow things like that to happen to human beings? If a stray dog had suffered that horrible injury, the entire community would have been out offering help (and homes).

        And yes – local officials refused to rise to the challenge of housing even 5 people, following the very impressive presentation they received from national Housing First experts.

    • Avatar Chris Solberg says:

      What a powerful story, unfortunately as far as rotting homeless body parts one I know only to well… Im sure folks will remember “A” who lived directly next to the train tracks next to the old Wells Fargo building across the street from the downtown post office …

      Day and night he lived on that bench and got a horrible case of frostbite on his feet that turned into something far worse over the years. So bad in fact that even though he wrapped his feet in plastic and old bread bags when he walked his feet were leaving substances blotting the sidewalk like a giant Bingo card marking pen.

      The fire department had to later come and spray off the sidewalk.

      I knew several people that died in that old Wells Fargo structure before it was torn down…. I asked Redding fire / PD to do a welfare check on somebody I knew suffering there once, and they responded in protective gear including breathing apparatus and after you see this video you will understand why…

      Redding California Homeless Veterans “Memorial Building”


    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Thanks for your story Colleen. I’ve covered the homeless situation in Sacramento in the 1990s and the 2000s, and it just keeps getting worse.

  13. Avatar David Encore says:

    Great story. Just want to clarify. It’s not marijuana vape juice. Its THC Oil. The oil is burned creating smoke. It’s smoking not vaping. Important distinction. Its stories that keep using the term vape or vaping that’s destroying my business. Big City Vapor in Anderson. The people that are sick are smoking oil. Really enjoyed it otherwise. Thx

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Thanks David, I’ve shopped at your store before. There are many different reports flying around now, and it’s unclear whether the product consumed was black market THC vape juice or THC oil as you’re stating. Most of the deaths/illnesses appear to be happening in states that don’t have recreational or medical marijuana laws, therefore the products are less regulated.

  14. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Today a group of about two dozen GOP HOR members stormed a closed meeting held to depose Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper. Their primary demand was that the hearing be held in public. They breached security protocols by taking recording devices into the deposition room.

    During Obama’s tenure, there were ten Benghazi investigations: one by the FBI; one by an independent board commissioned by the State Department; two by Democrat-controlled Senate Committees; and six by Republican-controlled House Committees. After the first five Republican investigations found no evidence of wrongdoing by senior Obama administration officials, Republicans in 2014 opened a sixth investigation, the House Select Committee on Benghazi, chaired by Trey Gowdy. This investigation also failed to find any evidence of wrongdoing by senior Obama administration officials.

    Thirty-two of the 33 hearings on the Benghazi matter were closed—all but Hillary Clinton’s 11 hours of public testimony before Gowdy’s committee. The Obama Administration fully cooperated and didn’t refuse to comply with a single subpoena.

    In which situation are the subjects of the investigations acting like they are guilty as f***?

  15. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    Doug the point of the article was that the proposed apartments were so expensive, much fewer units will be built, no where even close to meeting the demand.

  16. Avatar Julie Driver says:

    Tehama County has a 10 year plan to eradicate homelessness. It’s a joint effort between the cities of Red Bluff and Corning, county health services, law enforcement, probation, city councils and non-profit agencies. They have plans for transitional housing and a navigation center, as well as affordable multi-family housing with 1/2 of the units being built to be set aside for people with mental illness; again with supportive services onsite. Their position is “If we don’t work together, nobody succeeds.” Here’s a link to their plan. https://www.tehamacohealthservices.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Homelessness-10-year-final-plan-8-2018.pdf

  17. Avatar Jist Cuz says: