Mountain View Voice

Opinion - January 1, 2010

Letter: Homeless program needs more supporters

The letter from Ronald Jones (Dec. 18), a former police chief of Los Altos, brought back memories of his support for the program for selected single homeless people that was a joint effort between Community Services Agency (CSA) and an ecumenical group of churches, and which operated for several years.

Chief Jones' support for the concept of a shelter that would rotate around different churches for 28 days at a time was reassuring for congregations that were hesitant about inviting "those people" into their neighborhoods.

The chief's support went even further. When the program was established, first in Los Altos, he brought a team of officers to the current shelter once a month, to barbecue for the evening meal. An action that spoke louder than words.

The chief is right in saying that we still have a homeless problem in Mountain View, made more urgent and complex because of the current economic situation. So what can be done?

First, no single person, no matter how well intentioned, can be effective alone. CSA has an existing structure in place on which to build. An increased number of supporters from across the general community and some more churches is needed. They would add new ideas and bring new energy. Direct input from homeless people themselves is essential, as is support from city hall. An enlightened philanthropist or two wouldn't go amiss either.

The old adage still applies: "Where there's a will there's a way."

Ruth Polata

Former co-ordinator, Churches Committee on Homelessness

Mountain View

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