From my window the homeless are invisible.
I do not see them unless they are downtown during the same hours I am.
Out of sight, out of mind most of the time.
I have been meeting with several groups, agencies and city staff over the past few months learning about the homeless and nearly homeless in the Kingman area.
The situation is countrywide and does not seem to be getting any better.
It would seem that in this long period of high employment and unmatched prosperity, anyone could find a job, afford reasonable shelter and leave the ranks of the homeless.
If the problem cannot be solved in these good times, what happens when the economy takes a nose dive?
I am sure most of you have heard or said some of the following: "Some people just prefer being homeless." "We can only help those who will try to help themselves." "Homeless people just learn to use the system and live off other people's help."
I have said those things myself.
I do not know what the public responsibility for these "throwaway people" should be.
I am not sure about my personal responsibility.
But, one part of the situation that cries for a solution is the strong relationship between crime and homelessness related to drugs and alcohol.
A second relationship that bothers me is between homelessness and serious mental or physical health conditions.
When I first moved to Arizona in 1981, newspaper articles deplored the lack of funding and the condition of the understaffed mental health facility operated by Arizona.
Only one thing has changed in the ensuing 20 years; conditions are worse.
The plight of the mentally ill is the same and Arizona has added 20 years to the state's record of inaction.
I believe this is a national problem that began with efforts to open the institutions and solve problems of discrimination against patients.
Many facitities were closed and patients released.
Now, we have "patient rights" for the mentally ill who have no place to live.
National statistics indicate a high relationship between drugs or alcohol and crime rates.
Take away the drug and alcohol related crime and prisons would have a lot of empty beds or cells.
Many inmates in Arizona are taken to the homeless shelter when they leave prison.
I find it interesting that this country cannot find a solution to problems with either drugs or alcohol.
Alcohol is legal and the problems continue.
We have not found a way to keep drinking drivers off the road or to control binge drinking in college.
Under age drinking continues without a solution.
We have fought a losing battle trying to keep drugs out of the country.
We have been unable to stem the manufacture of illegal drugs in this country, including Mohave County and the Kingman area, assuming the rumors I hear have any basis in fact.
Could we stop two problems at the same time by helping those out of jail , on drugs and addicted to alcohol to kick the habit as a first step to becoming contributing members of society?
Arguments about making drugs legal hold no promise.
Look at the results of making alcohol legal--we have most of the same problems.
The solution is much more complicated than that.
It seems really stupid to make war on smoking and guns while ignoring the obvious harm to individuals and society of alcohol and drugs.
I am not trying to make this a pro smoking or pro gun argument.
I just wonder why we worry more about cancer from smoking and the addiction involved than alcohol addiction.
Alcohol harms unborn children and takes a death toll on the highway every day.
Can you think of anything more stupid than calling the stop for a drink or two or three or more on the way home "The Happy Hour?"
"Homeless by choice" or "Homeless by society's lack of concern" are two sides of the argument.
Likely, both are true.
But, I look out my window and there are no homeless folks out there.
So, I will continue to enjoy the quail, the sunrise and sunset and the fantastic mountain views.
The air conditioning works and the roof does not leak.
I do not expect to be homeless any time soon and some of those homeless folks are there from their own choice.
Who knows, they may even like it! They get to camp out all the time.
I can only go on weekends.
Some one, maybe you, will take action and solve the problem.
I won't need to get involved.
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