This morning it is bitter cold. I go out and pick up the newspaper and it is almost a Minnesota, brittle bite of cold that I feel. But, back inside, in our little Springs house, in my favorite chair, with my feet up on an ottoman, warm blanket and cat on my lap, I read the paper in comfort. I am a very lucky person.
Not so lucky are those that wake up in their cars, parked next to the Field of Dreams in the town of Sonoma. Yet, they are luckier than those sleeping in a doorway in San Francisco, or under a freeway overpass in the East Bay.
I read that the Sonoma city council has extended overnight parking for Sonoma Overnight Support (SOS) at the site by the police department and the Field of Dreams for the next three months. After that a new place must be found. Many feel this is not the place for homeless folks to spend the night. Kathy King, who runs SOS, has looked in vain for a new spot. My hope is the city will help her find one before the three months run out.
Here in the Springs, hope springs for those that must sleep in the bitter cold. Annie Falandes of Homeless Action Sonoma has purchased a piece of land on Highway 12. Annie’s project will begin. First tiny houses, services, and help for homeless folks and later a center that will, in her words, “create a facility that shelters, supports, and trains people.”
In a country where the top 1 percent have accumulated 41 trillion dollars in wealth, to the bottom 50 percent’s $2.6 trillion, the reality is that those at the very bottom of that 50 percent will have nothing. I ask myself why this is. When did this change? When I was young, I lived paycheck to paycheck, working at dead end jobs, but yet I had an apartment I could afford. That is no longer the case in today’s world.
When I moved to San Francisco in 1989 there were a handful of homeless people hiding out in Golden Gate Park. One only needs to drive around San Francisco today to see a city overwhelmed with those who have no home. Our society has changed dramatically over the last 32 years. I hear people blaming the individuals without a home for their fate. But, how can so many, many people be at fault for their predicament? Why was this not the case 32 years ago?
Being in the middle and not rolling in money, I can only do what I can. My sister-in-law is a case in point. Each time she reached a point where homelessness was looming, we or her ex-husband helped out and she found a place to live. But, each time the rent went up, the landlord sold the place, etc. it started all over again. Now, after waiting, she finally has a great apartment in a low income, senior building, where the rent will not go up and she can stay as long as she wants. But, these apartments are few and far between.
Here in Sonoma, Kathy and Annie are helping, rather than blaming. Let’s support them and help them continue to help others.