Don’t Help The Homeless, Critics Say

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – Mohammed Aly does not see any reason why he shouldn’t try to ease the lives of Orange County’s homeless. But the government bodies – and a lot of his neighbors – disagree. Aly, a 28-year-old activist and lawyer, has been caught three times as he campaigned with respect to road people.

Recently, he was denied permission to install portable toilets on the dried-up riverbed, site of an encampment of approximately 400 homeless. Homeless Jacqueline Anderson, 63, passes time playing with her smartphone in a homeless encampment on the Santa Ana River trail Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Anaheim, Calif. Anderson who had been to a few other encampments before settling on the river trail. But his detractors – involved in a dispute that rages up and down America’s West Coast, as the spot struggles to handle a rising tide of homelessness – say Aly and other do-gooders are doing more harm than good.

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However well-meaning, critics say, those who supply the homeless with tarps and tents, toilets and showers, hot foods and pet food, are enabling them to remain unsheltered. And not coincidentally, they note, nuisances of homelessness like trash and unsanitary conditions fester and aberrant behavior continues. In California, the San Diego County community of El Cajon approved a measure that curtails nourishing the homeless, citing health issues.

In LA, city officials have re-opened and shut restrooms for those on Skid Row amid similar controversies. The problem is debated across Orange County, a cluster of suburbs and small metropolitan areas known more for surf Disneyland and culture than its legions of poor. In the tony seaside enclave of Dana Point, neighbors fear a nightly meal is drawing homeless to a popular state beach where teens play beach volleyball and families picnic and surf. Around the dusty riverbed 30 kilometers (48 kilometers) north, a van furnished with shower stalls parks alongside the homeless encampment; those residing in the string of tattered tents add their titles to a list of dozens waiting around to bathe.

While the mobile unit is designed to help those living on the trash-strewn remove, neighbors get worried the 2-mile-long (3-kilometer-long) encampment is now more entrenched in an area where they once jogged and biked. Shaun Dove, a 46-year-old soon-to-be retired policeman from Anaheim, who lives less than a mile from the riverbed in a palm-tree lined community of three-bedroom homes.

The amount of homeless residing in Orange County has climbed 8 percent over the last two years. In the United States, year to nearly 554 homelessness rose slightly in the last,000, pushed largely by raises on the West Coast up, federal data shows. The increase is driven by soaring casing costs, though a drug addiction crisis and need for mental health services are also factors. 700,000. Until there are, many well-meaning residents want to try to alleviate what they feel is a humanitarian crisis by bringing food and other assistance to the homeless.

In a small community like Dana Point, there is no shelter. The nightly meals began more than two decades ago at local churches but were transferred to Doheny State Beach after a night time stabbing between two homeless residents. The picturesque city on bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean is known for its million buck homes and scenic harbor. But homeless have always been attracted to Dana Point and other beach areas which offer general public access and spacious areas – and the beauty and sunlight that lure so many people to California’s shores. In the late afternoon, volunteers arrive at the beach parking lot with folding desks and trays of poultry or meat or fish and fruit.

They often also hand out a sack lunch for the next day to several dozen homeless, day laborers and poor who fall into line to consume after bowing their minds in a brief prayer. The homeless say just as much as they appreciate it, the meals isn’t keeping them on the roads. Gholamreza Haghighi, 59, said he has been sleeping in the close by brush for further than two decades – well before meals were offered there – and has nowhere else to look. Jose Luis Gonzalez, 60, said he has been residing in his motor home since splitting with his wife and sometimes prevents by the suppers to see friends and also have a meal.

Another homeless man who refused to give his name said he mind there only to eat. Volunteers say the homeless are attracted to the beaches because of the open space and usage of drinking water and restrooms – not the meals. They believe that feeding people can build trust and lead the homeless to additional services, including housing.