Community View | S. Pleth: Finding a way to help those in need

You may know that not all homeless or unemployed people are able to get welfare. As a friend told me, “These people did not wake up and say ‘I’ll become homeless today.’”

They didn’t choose a homeless life. Perhaps they had no choice but to leave horrible situation. These cases are not necessarily linked to drug abuse. However, in most cases, drugs or alcohol addiction is involved.

While Kingman does have a few shelters in place with 90-day programs to help these people get back on their feet, there is still the ‘in-between” population that needs help, but not just for 90 days. There are a few low-income housing units in Kingman, but they do not take anyone with a felony record. In other words, we need transitional housing for up to nine months to really make a difference in their success back into “normal” lifestyle.

Good organizations like Kingman Aid to Abused People do a great job with domestic violence victims by providing housing and board for a maximum stay of 120 days, and they are always fully booked. The Kingman Area Food Bank must see a person’s photo ID and original birth certificate in order to give food assistance. Why a birth certificate?

I can agree on checking if they are residents of Kingman, Golden Valley or the surrounding area, but that would be on their photo ID as well. Does this work for those people who have no ID on hand, let alone their birth certificate? I think not. This part of the “in-between” I am addressing.

Homeless people have no belongings, no identification on their person and no home with a permanent address. They cannot apply for welfare benefits or support since they need two forms of ID. Society does not have any service to find them jobs without IDs and a permanent address. It costs at least $12 for a duplicate ID (ADOT Motor Vehicle Division), and it costs for social security cards because people have to go to Needles, California where the closest social security office is located. They may not have a car or money for gas to get there. There is no “fund” that helps with costs for these important items. It all becomes a catch-22. This problem needs to be addressed – the “in-between.” They are not invisible.

If anyone is caught stealing food anywhere, they can be charged with a Class 3 felony (there are six classes of felony). It is absolutely horrifying that someone could be charged with a felony over needing food. They did not hurt anyone even though we know the commandment that says, “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” Why not a misdemeanor for food? So they must beg to survive and hope that someone will talk to them and give them some help or a job. Society must find a way of forgiveness after rehab or proving that they are free of drugs. The “in-between” usually have no one to go to and trust, or somewhere to go for help.

Is there justice for defendants when public defenders don’t defend them against charges too harsh for the crime? Granted, public defenders are assigned at no cost to the accused/defendant, but are they doing their best for the defendant? Some would say, “Nope, they are not.” They are very quick to put them in jail and put a blot on their record forever. This will damage them from getting good jobs or have any kind of license.

Once this type of tragedy happens to someone, their life is judged and shunned by those who have jobs, a home and are in a happy place in their life. Most of us give to charities from time to time, and some of us give all the time. We must find a way to help the “in-between” population here in Kingman.