Personal/Political ~ Josette Brose-Eichar

Josette Brose-Eichar


Sonoma Valley homeless – action and reaction

Posted on January 3, 2024 by Josette Brose-Eichar

These are the words of Annie Falandes, the founder of Homeless Action Sonoma (H.A.S.) from her December newsletter.

“People ask me, why spend so much money? Someday I will have time to pull up the statistics, but as I have known from other studies, what we save the community in ER costs, arrest, and jail costs is more than I spend. Also, from my perspective, to offer a life to these human beings is priceless. The lifespan of someone homeless is 20 years less than a housed person. I have 156 clients and only one is older than I am. I am 73. Startling. 

“Happy Holiday to you and yours and be grateful for all you have. It is only a trauma away to make someone homeless. Also, know that you cannot live on $16/hour working one job in Sonoma. I have done the studies and $22/hour is the minimum pay in order to not have to work two or three jobs. On minimum wage, working two jobs your chance for an illness increases by about 50% and if you are living paycheck to paycheck it takes very little to become homeless. These are the newly homeless, not alcoholics or drug addicts, but I would bet, after a year on the streets, they will be one or the other.”

The recent opening of the H.A.S. Home and Safe Village (on Highway 12 in the Springs) generated an outpouring of comments from the community. Opinions are split. Some state the negative, that no one should get a free ride and if they just worked harder they would not find themselves on the street. 

This split in viewpoints is a mirror of our society and country as a whole. Half of us blame those that are struggling for their fate, while the other half realizes, like Ms. Falandes, there but for fortune go you or me. Some of the comments also trash anyone who supports H.A.S.  

Those that support organizations like H.A.S are called “narcissistic boomers” and berated for donating to organizations that help others. Various quotes chosen from social media and online press comments: “Nobody deserves anything that they didn’t work for or earn. The next slum, let’s see how long this lasts before it looks like crap. I wonder how long it’s going to take for this ‘village’ to be a crime ridden filth hole? They aren’t homeless because of some BS capitalist patriarchy. It’s because they’re dysfunctional and don’t want to contribute to society, duh. Can I bring my fentanyl stash? Say yes and I’ll quit my job tomorrow. See how warm your heart is a year from now. The homeless have committed crimes including stealing property, drug use, throwing rocks at passing cars, and exposing themselves to young women. Having a small home does not mean changed behavior.”

But, let’s ask ourselves, what are the naysayers actually doing? Are they helping anyone, donating to organizations that help others, or are they just belittling anyone who does care about others with their constant barrage of useless comments? They say they are the contributing members of society, but I see them doing nothing but tossing out nasty, baseless rhetoric, and calling it free speech.

Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA