Wednesday, March 28, 2007

So what is all this protest all about?

So what is St. Joseph’s?

St. Joseph’s is a multi-million dollar 501-C3 non-profit organization engaged in providing services and training to the poor and homeless.

That sounds good. So what’s the problem?

Well, with most of their programs, nothing. In fact they are good programs for dealing with a complex issue. But St. Joseph Center does have some programs that impact the community negatively and have for years. The most serious is their Homeless Day Center which provides a combination of services that include; showers, telephone, clothes washing and meals without registration of any kind.. They also provide counseling for homeless services, if and only if, their homeless “clients” are willing to do so.

FYI: "service resistant" are these individuals who are NOT Willing to enter the "system" and receive counseling.

So what’s wrong with that?

When it works, nothing. But when it doesn’t, it becomes a serious burden on the surrounding community. Without some type of requirement for the people using these services to register and commit to getting off the street and into a program, this part of St. Joseph’s operation then becomes a classic enabling situation where many “clients” who St. Josephs labels as “service resistant or adverse” are enabled to continue living on City streets and, all too often, engaging in a criminal lifestyle. That criminal lifestyle is what impacts our community, our safety, our children, and even our public health standards.

Why?

This program at St. Joseph’s is only open 8 hours a day, 4 days a week, 6 hours one day per week, closed on weekends, holidays, and from Thanksgiving to the New Year. For the remaining 16 hours a day on weekdays, 24 hours a day on weekends, holidays, and 6 weeks during the holiday season these individuals then become wards of the surrounding community. St. Joseph has no shelter facilities. Out of 2,699 homeless served in 2004 -2005, St Joseph’s placed less than 1% in “permanent housing” (defined as 30 days or more).

I still don’t get it?

The problem with enabling a group of unidentified, transient “service adverse” homeless is that it enables them to continue this day to day dysfunctional and criminal lifestyle that impacts everyone in the community in one way or another.

Aren’t the police there to take care of the criminals and troublemakers?

Well in fact they do, but here in Pacific Division we have been losing officers through redeployment to even higher crime areas in other parts of L.A. Estimates range in between 40-60 officers have been reassigned. At times this results in no officers being available to respond to deemed lower priority calls for service.

It is sometimes difficult to get prompt police response now, and with the current push to disperse the “skid row” population out into sacrificial residential areas, coupled with the enabling methods of this St. Joseph’s program, will result in an even more serious situation for our community. Local LAPD Senior Lead Officers state they now spend as much as 75-85% of their time with homeless drug, drug addict, and alcohol related crime problems.

What are the Public Health Issues?

Many of the “service resistant” individuals are an ongoing reservoir of serious medical conditions and communicable diseases including MRSA (antibiotic resistant Staph) often labeled “Skid Row Staph”, antibiotic resistant Tuberculosis, AIDS, Hepatitis, venereal diseases, gastrointestinal's and dysentery’s (read the article online from the L.A. Weekly of Oct. 16, 2006). http://www.laweekly.com/news/news/the-scourge-of-skid-row/14810/

These individuals need to be housed in an area where they can be monitored with on-going medical treatment not out on the streets! How will we feel when one of our kids, seniors, family or neighbors comes down with one of these diseases like police, firefighters, prosecutors, doctors, and nurses already have?

Enabling individuals to continue in this dysfunctional street lifestyle is dangerous and a public health crisis in the making. And this particular St. Joseph’s program enables and brings skid row culture and its inherent dangers to our doorsteps.



We have a correction!

"sofner" has left a comment "So what is all this protest all about?":

Correction: St. Joseph Center's Homeless Service Center is NOT closed from Thanksgiving to New Years. They are closed on Thanksgiving day, and then open again until the week of Christmas. During the week of Christmas until New Years, the center has limited hours of service, but is open. You make it sounds as if the center is closed the entire month of December!!

If you are going to criticize the work of this organization, at least get the facts straight before spreading blatant untruths.


1 comment:

sofner said...

Correction: St. Joseph Center's Homeless Service Center is NOT closed from Thanksgiving to New Years. They are closed on Thanksgiving day, and then open again until the week of Christmas. During the week of Christmas until New Years, the center has limited hours of service, but is open. You make it sounds as if the center is closed the entire month of December!!

If you are going to criticize the work of this organization, at least get the facts straight before spreading blatant untruths.