The front page headline on Tuesday’s paper reads “No handouts for homeless on the street,” as if it were a command, from a new City group that seems to have representatives from many sectors, yet no actual homeless people on the committee.
I have often been asked for money by homeless people in Davis. However, I do not recall ever having a negative interaction with any of them. While I do not often give them money individually, I do make donations to local non-profit organizations that, I’m told, supposedly help our local homeless population. The process of doing so, however, is confusing. Davis seems to have no singular location or organization comparable to Sacramento’s Loaves and Fishes, which provides many necessary services to Sacramento’s homeless population. We in Davis need such a single-source receiving organization for meaningful contributions to aid our local homeless residents. We also need to know precisely how this organization actually helps (or will help) the homeless, and that our contributions to it will not be wasted on bureaucratic activities or diverted to other recipients.
The United States seems to be one of the world’s only developed countries content to treat certain innocent but unfortunate human beings as if they were so much discarded waste. When I spent considerable time in Taipei, Taiwan, a very dense metropolitan area of 7 million people, the only people I saw begging on the streets were Buddhist monks, who did so as part of a well-accepted religious tradition two thousand years old.
I would like to think Davis has more compassion than the average American city government or citizenry. If we are being asked not to give money directly to homeless people, then give us a very specific, concrete means by which we can help this disenfranchised group of Davis “residents” indirectly.
Robert L. Thayer