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Comments about ‘Lois M. Collins: Homeless teach us how fragile our own lives are’

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Published: Tuesday, July 23 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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happy2bhere
clearfield, UT

Yesterday in Salt Lake City I saw several young and seemingly healthy people panhandling for money. They looked like they live in the park and are homeless. Question. Could they work, but choose not to? Is there some reason they can't get work? Do they make more money by asking strangers for it than they would get working? I remember during the '80s when Reagan was President, there seemed to be a lot of homeless around, like now. Reagan was blamed. Obama is not. What's the difference?

jenkers
Salt Lake City, UT

I used to think that, too, until I got to know some of them homeless. There are definitely cheats -- as there are in most groups. But much of the problem is mental illness. And you can be mentally ill and be "seemingly healthy people." It's like being hearing impaired -- the fact that you can't see it doesn't mean it's not there.

Obama10
SYRACUSE, UT

When I would take my Scout troop to the homeless shelter in Ogden to serve dinner, I always enjoyed speaking with the different people. The one thing I loved for the Scouts to hear was how choices they had made, ended with them being in the shelter. Mostly drugs and alcohol. Choices have consequences.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

There are clearly panhandlers, who are seeking handouts. But as jenkers points out, there are a LOT of homeless with mental illness problems and/or substance abuse. Many of them live in the foothills above SLC. We have a lot in Utah because we have good programs to help feed them.

On top of these two groups are the "newly homeless", people who've lost their jobs and homes in short order. I volunteered for a Sunday breakfast under the 5th South viaduct on a Sunday morning, and was stunned at how many people looked like just regular middle class folks. The main cook told me they were probably employed and had homes a couple of months previously, but had hit on hard luck. He said give them 6 months, and they'll start looking a lot more ragged, as their ability to find work and get back on their feet becomes more difficult, and frantic.

It's interesting that this story is sharing the Internet D-News Opinion headline with Robert Samuelson's column about how the US is affluent, but anxiety persists from the recession.

Two sides of the same coin.

Jeff
Temple City, CA

A very good article.

As a regular reader of both the LA TIMES and the DN, I read Lopez's articles that eventually became his book (which I read) and the film (which I saw). At the same time I was developing a friendship with a paranoid/schizophrenic man who is chronically homeless.

Unlike Lopez's friend, my friend has no noticeable talents. He has many chronic problems related to his illness and his chronic inability to make good choices.

Even so, with the widespread attention, money, and help that was available to Mr. Ayers, my friend could find a modicum of success. At the very least, adequate funding for mental health care (which he can only get in prison) could go a long way toward helping him.

Homelessness, with it's sister affliction mental illness, is solvable, but as Steve Lopez and Lois Collins both point out, it takes concerted, focused effort from healthy people working together, not judgment and disunity from those who ought to help.

We must also remember that the untalented need help, too.

Jeff
Temple City, CA

A very good article.

As a regular reader of both the LA TIMES and the DN, I read Lopez's articles that eventually became his book (which I read) and the film (which I saw). At the same time I was developing a friendship with a paranoid/schizophrenic man who is chronically homeless.

Unlike Lopez's friend, my friend has no noticeable talents. He has many chronic problems related to his illness and his chronic inability to make good choices.

Even so, with the widespread attention, money, and help that was available to Mr. Ayers, my friend could find a modicum of success. At the very least, adequate funding for mental health care (which he can only get in prison) could go a long way toward helping him.

Homelessness, with it's sister affliction mental illness, is solvable, but as Steve Lopez and Lois Collins both point out, it takes concerted, focused effort from healthy people working together, not judgment and disunity from those who ought to help.

We must also remember that the untalented need help, too.

Gildas
LOGAN, UT

I am glad that "Obama 10" pointed out that most of the homeless are drunks and other drug addicts. This does not mean we should not care but there always was the basic need to define the problem before you can prescribe a solution. Just giving money to an addict perpetuates and exacerbates the situation.

What is the solution then? Any ideas anyone?

happy2bhere
clearfield, UT

Gildas

As I understand the history of this problem, there was a time when a drunk derelict or drug addict on the streets could be taken (against their will if necessary) and put into a facility that held them and hopefully dried them out and got them off of the drugs. Enter the ACLU, who made the case that it was unconstitutional to do that to a person. And furthermore they made the case that if a person wants to live on the streets or in a park, it was their right. Courts apparantly agreed. So here we are. Frankly I think that when a person can't take care of themselves, it is more civilized and humane to take them and put them where they may recover from their problems. But unless that freedom changes legally, we will be stuck with not being able to help the homeless in any major way. Welcome to the "progressive" world.

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