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Let’s help our community’s homeless

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The recent rains and article in the Auburn Journal (March 23) remind those of us who have homes how grateful we are for our basic shelter. Unfortunately, many of our homeless neighbors are still unsheltered and exposed to the elements. Though we are grateful for the good works and services being provided to the homeless by members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, I was shocked and offended by the characterization of a portion of the homeless population as “feral,” “animals,” and “drug addicts” by Pastor Dan Appel. I believe that Pastor Appel means well, but this type of language is highly inflammatory and destructive and only serves to fan the flames of public prejudice against all homeless persons. Pastor Appel, please stop using this inflammatory language. One can easily unofficially estimate that 10 percent of any given population, e.g. athletes, lawyers, homeowners, or church members, may at times get wild, abuse drugs, and cause problems. However, we do not want to demonize any group by focusing only on its most troubled and troublesome members. The most recent hard data gives a very different profile of the unsheltered homeless in Placer County. The Jan. 27, 2009 point-in-time census taken by the Placer Consortium on Homelessness shows that on that day there were 234 unsheltered persons. Of this number 33 were children, 22 were victims of domestic violence, 74 were persons with disabilities and 34 were veterans. We should take this Journal article as a call to come together as a community and focus on solutions to the problem of the homeless, and there are many. The homeless need well-run camps, shelters, affordable housing, and employment to help the able and motivated to improve their lives. We can start by supporting our own community-based shelter programs provided by The Gathering Inn. Herb Whitaker, Auburn