Homeless situation out of control Palo Alto Issues, posted by concerned, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Oct 23, 2006 at 1:11 pm
Sunday was flu-shot day for kids in Palo Alto at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation on El Camino. Little did parents know, but a homeless shelter has opened in the neighborhood. There were long lines of kids and parents stretching outside of PAMF, and there were lots of homeless who were panhandling for money from the families in line. It was really disgusting. Somebody called police, but they said they couldn't do anything. I know this is really contrary to the politically-correct ethic in this town, but the City needs to clean up this homeless situation. Sunday's mess made me wonder why I moved my family to this town! (I won't post my name on this thread because I know how liberals like to retaliate against those who disagree with them, but an honest debate on this subject needs to occur.)
Posted by Tom, a resident of the University South neighborhood, on Oct 23, 2006 at 4:26 pm
When I retire, I am going to get a job as a homeless person and hang out in Palo Alto during the day. Free meals, police can't stop me from begging and I'm short walk to my home at night. What a great partime/retirement job! Thank you Palo Alto for this great opportunity.
Posted by Liberal, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Oct 23, 2006 at 4:28 pm
Maybe PA and surrounding cities needs to work on a solution to the homeless problem.
i am not sure what the original poster means by "clean up" the homeless problem. Is that saying that all homeless are dirty?
What would you have the city do? Push these people into other cities?
Maybe the original poster should move somewhere where homeless people are not allowed. it amazes me the cruel things that people say about those that are down on their luck. Do you think most of these people what to be homeless and have to resort to begging.
i realize as a conservative you have no compassion for the poor, downtrodden etc--i guess that is why I am a liberal.
regarding the comment "liberals like to retaliate against those who disagree with them"--the poster has obviously not listened to Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter etc for a while.
Posted by GINAPAR, a resident of another community, on Oct 23, 2006 at 4:32 pm
Tom is right. The job has its benefits: no boss to tell you what to do, you get to work outdoors in the fresh air, if you don't like the location you just move on down the road, and the best one, no income tax to pay - federal or state. And at the end of the day, after using the phone, computer, showers, food closet and postal services from the "opportunity center", you just head on home!
Posted by Taylor, a resident of another community, on Oct 23, 2006 at 7:53 pm
The flu shots at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation on Sunday were out of control. Thousands of people showed up (not just parents and children), it was open to all "at risk" individuals. The line of cars stretched back along the 3 lanes of El Camino from the Clinic to Stanford Avenue. (it was worse than a Stanford football game). After waiting in that mess for 45 minutes I arrived to find the line at the clinic was out the back door, round the second building to the road between the Clinic and the Westin Hotel. No PAMF security people were on hand to organize the line, and more and more cars and people kept arriving. Needless to say I left and will get my flu shot at Safeway. As for the homeless, what a windfall for them, and no security!
Posted by James, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Oct 23, 2006 at 8:20 pm
And don't forget the new 5-6 millon dollar homeless shelter off ECR. When you get tired of the spouse and kids- you can go stay at the shelter that night. They even built a tunnel to take you right to the front door after a "hard day" of begging downtown.
Posted by TJ, a resident of the University South neighborhood, on Oct 23, 2006 at 11:58 pm
It's hard to believe that our City leaders would allow a homeless shelter to go in next to a medical clinic, where there are drugs that can be stolen and frail people who can be victimized? We spend millions of dollars a year on a City "Planning Department" and this is the best they can do?
Posted by Conservative, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Oct 24, 2006 at 8:51 pm
TJ -- I agree with "Liberal"'s comment above. Your assumption that "homeless" is synonomous with "victimizing frail people" and "stealing drugs" is morally reprehensible, even to a God-fearing Christian conservative like me.
Posted by JC, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 24, 2006 at 11:23 pm
"there, but for the grace of god, go I"
This is a phrase that some of the people above - those who have villified, belittled, and made fun of the homeless.
If you think it's so "easy"being homeless, then why not put your actions where your words are? Perhaps you can lease your home for a year, to someone who will not let you back in, then start walking away from the front door with NOTHING in your pockets, with a further rule that you are absolutely forbidden to call anyone for help. Let's se how you do, and how "funny" the whole thing is after you've attempted to live on the street for a few weeks.
After someone has offered you your 7th meal for the day on the street, let's se if you ask for money, instead.
Posted by John, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Oct 25, 2006 at 3:48 am
The problem here is that we have allowed a homeless magnet to be built in our community, and the harassment felt by parent and kids in the flu shot line on Sunday appears to be a symptom of it. I don't think any reasonable person wishes to villify or belittle the homeless, as JC puts it, but they shouldn't be allowed to harass others, either.
Posted by Marianne, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Oct 25, 2006 at 3:47 pm
I have helped a friend bring dinner to the homeless sleeping in church social halls a month at a time (Hotel deZink.) Does Tom really think it will be an enjoyable lifestyle when he retires to wait in the cold until 9 p.m., then come in to a drafty church hall for a quick dinner and go right to bed on a thin foam mat on a hard floor? Then it's up at 7 for a cold breakfast and another day of wandering the streets. If that sounds good to you, Tom, go for it!
Posted by Tom, a resident of the University South neighborhood, on Oct 25, 2006 at 10:07 pm
No Marianne I do not want that lifestyle, but you miss the point.
Would you like your neighbour to be drunk everyday? How about if he went to the bathroom on your front lawn or sidewalk? Everytime you left the house, he would "hit you up" for some money? Maybe it would be OK if he slept on your doorstep?
This is what the downtown businesses and their customers put up with everyday.
The police and fire departments tell me that the homeless come here to Palo Alto because the other cities won't tolerate this type of behavior- but Palo Alto will.
Posted by Right winger, a resident of another community, on Oct 26, 2006 at 1:31 pm
If the illegals can come to the U.S. and find work, so can the rest of these "homeless." Choice has everything to do with most of it. The minority are afflicted with mental and medical problems which do not allow them to better their situation.
Take everything I own today and I'll be back on my feet in no time. Why? Because I choose not to be homeless!
Posted by homeless, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Nov 25, 2006 at 2:03 pm
you're all a bunch of crybabies. homeless people are cool. they provide friendship and entertainment to people new in town. is it really so horrific to be asked for coins while you're walking to your benz? stop whining.
Posted by Carol, a resident of the University South neighborhood, on Dec 8, 2006 at 6:29 am
I'm proud to live in a community that provides many services to the homeless. After all we are among the very richest people on the planet. Aren't we supposed to care for those less forturnate than ourselves? What a great example to our children to see us caring for these people rather than shunning them. Better the Opportunity Center and Hotel de Zink for a good night's sleep than the creek bed. So many of you are worried about your safety, what about their safety? I think most of us are quite safe in our million dollar+ homes.
Posted by Anna, a resident of the University South neighborhood, on Oct 8, 2007 at 6:35 pm
The real source of our homeless problem is the Opportunity Center, which acts as a magnet drawing unfortunate people who can't care for themselves because of drug problems or mental illness to a town in which they cannot hope to fit in.
WE do the homeless no favors by attracting them to this area. How are they to become meaningful members of a community - even if their mental issues were resolved - with housing prices above $1 million and mostly high tech and professional jobs. It's no wonder they end up wandering around town in purposeless ways committing petty crimes now and then when the frustration level gets high enough. Web Link
The "homeless advocates" who pushed for the Opportunity Center should be ashamed of themselves. However hard a time the homeless would have had where they came from, it's much harder here. (And any casual observation would reveal that since the OC opened, our problems are much worse: it IS a magnet for homeless region-wide.) The poor unfortunates who comprise the homeless deserve our sympathy. Blame much of their plight on the advocates who use them to score cheap political points, and as street theater to demonstrate both the evils of society and their own sense of moral righteousness. These people should be ashamed of themselves.
Those who really care about the homeless should push for the closure of the Opportunity Center. IT does not belong in Palo Alto. (The poster above who notes that San Carlos, Mountain View, Menlo Park and other cities don't have our homeless problems makes a good - and irrefutable - point. They don't invite the homeless into their towns.)
The homeless simply don't mix well with a high-income suburb. (There has been a disheveled homeless person camped out in front of Casteleja School since the girls returned from vacation. It's only a matter of time until some of the petty crime the homeless are responsible for turns tragic.)
Posted by heartless?, a resident of the Ventura neighborhood, on Oct 8, 2007 at 9:26 pm
On the contrary. Perhaps we should bring ten thousand or so of the world's homeless to Palo Alto, to sooth the collective conscience of some of our citizens. It is a drop in the bucket, but would have more symbolic value than our current activity. Would it not prove we are a good city?
Posted by Alyssa, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 10:29 am
We might have ten thousand more homeless whether we do more than keep the Opportunity Center open or not. Now that San Francisco has finally become fed up with the problem there (Web Link), and gotten serious about the homeless problem, where do you think they'll go?
Palo Alto and Berkeley seem like good bets given their reputation as welcoming places for the homeless.
Who's great idea was it to put a homeless magnet like the Opportunity Center next door to an upscale shopping center, a medical clinic and across the street from a high school? What in the world were these people thinking?
We will be sure that the petty crime and harassment detailed by those in this thread will get worse until our leaders wake up.
Posted by PA mom, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Oct 9, 2007 at 1:46 pm
The Opportunity Center is not a homeless shelter. It is permanent housing for singles and families and also provides services to homeless and at-risk people including health care, counseling etc. More info Web Link
That said, I totally agree that the homeless situation aka panhandling, the man with the shower cap covered in plastic bags "living" on the park bench on Bryant, etc. has gotten ridiculous. I seldom go downtown because of the quantity and aggresiveness of the panhandlers (which incidentally, I don't see near the OC, just downtown.)
Posted by Burlington, a resident of the Southgate neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 2:16 pm
PA Mom relays the description of the Opportunity Center that its proponents would like us to hear. She is right that it is not a homeless shelter, but I don't think anyone here said that.
If it were a temporary shelter where the people could receive compassionate care while being transitioned to a location and situation where they could receive effective help for their myriad social and personal problems, the OC would do less damage to those who it's alleged to benefit, and less harm to the community at large.
Instead it offers a permanent living situation to people who aren't capable of negotiating the complexities of our community where they've been drawn by the OC. What favor does it do to the few homeless who might be able to exist on their own to be attracted to one of the most expensive real estate markets in the nation, where most jobs require technical and social skills far beyond their capabilities?
What good does it do our community to have so many people lash out at the very existence of the poor unfortunates who are pulled into our community by the OC - as we've seen evidenced by many of the more viscous comments on this thread and others?
It's wrong to blame the people who are attracted here by "free" services and housing who then - when the hopelessness of their situations becomes apparent - end up panhandling, harassing citizens on the street and committing petty crimes? They have no hope of fitting into our town.
These people deserve our sympathy. It's the purveyors of this perverse system - the "homeless advocates" - who merit our condemnation. Many of them may be motivated by the best of intentions (though it is apparent that many are attracted by the chance to score political points as well), but good intentions pave many roads we don't need to go down in Palo Alto.
It's time to be honest and say the OC has failed. The building and the land it sits on could be sold for a lot of money that could be used to provide REAL help and hope to the few among the inebriates, mentally ill and drug addicts comprising the homeless population who actually are capable of being helped - but not here - rather help them in a setting more conducive to doing so than the middle of Palo Alto.
Good sense demands that we close the OC, and so does compassion.
Posted by Frances, a resident of the Southgate neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 2:23 pm
Homelessness is a tragedy. Most homelss people are true victimes of circumstance, and should be helped.
That said, we should not tolerate socially inappropriate behavior on our streets, in our parks, and other public and private places.
Recently, some aggressive homeless persons have been harrassing California Avenue businesses, and worse.
Also, I am wearly of looking for a clean city bench to sit and read a newspaper on. many of them have been nfouled by homeless sleepers. We need to enforce code, and we need to insist that we have rights, too.
There are no easy answers, but failure to make antisocial behaviors dcarce in our city is something that non-homeless citizens should have to endure.
Posted by Frances, a resident of the Southgate neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 2:27 pm
Mayor Newsom's recent cleanup of GG Park, and Sf streets, has shifted many homeless persons, and some outright vagrants, south. It's easy to jump on a bus and end up on Cal Ave. or University. We need come visible, corrective action, so that anti-social behaviors - including the fouling of libraries, public benches, and so on, are dealt with in a firm manner.
Get the homeless help, yes - I will happily contribute tax dollars for that, but also keep our city liveable.