The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Shelter from S.B.’s scorn

If you have ever walked downtown, you have seen them. You have seen the homeless gathered around De La Guerra Plaza. You have seen them tucked into shadows of buildings on State Street, pleading for spare change.

If you are like most Santa Barbarians, you probably ignore them, passing them by without so much as making eye contact.

“They’re just going to spend it on booze,” some think. “They’re lazy,” others say.

The people of Santa Barbara’s indifference and lack of compassion for the homeless is appalling.

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Although many people are dedicated to helping the homeless through organizations like Casa Esperanza and Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, the majority of Santa Barbara appears to be too self-involved and prejudiced towards the homeless community.

Homeless are people too. They aren’t bums or hobos. They are disadvantaged people who have sadly slipped through society’s cracks. It’s mind-blowing to think in such a wealthy, fortunate city, we have many living without proper housing or healthcare. Shelters and Medicaid can only do so much for the homeless.

Many homeless people suffer from circumstances beyond their control. But in a society where personal responsibility is valued, what happens to those who cannot be responsible for themselves? Who is to help our fellow human?

Homelessness is the entire community’s problem. Santa Barbara and its citizens need to address it head-on. Writing tickets and making arrests will not help the homeless. Loitering and public-sleeping laws turn the homeless into criminals for something they cannot avoid.

There need to be more shelters with available beds and more rehabilitation programs to help the homeless. Currently, Casa Esperanza has only 200 beds available during the winter months. Job training and mental health programs need to be more accessible for the homeless.

The city needs to put more funds toward helping the homeless. What kind of city would we be if we spent more on beautification than our own people?

Ignoring homeless peoples’ existence will not make them disappear. The first step is to acknowledge them. Then we can begin to understand them. With understanding, we can begin helping them.

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