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Irvine's Efforts for Homeless

September 20, 1987

The city of Irvine, like so many cities throughout the nation today, is wrestling with its conscience: To house or not to give shelter to its homeless children and adults is the question.

Will Irvine, like its neighboring city, Costa Mesa, emerge as the "city with a heart"?

There are those who point out the fact that real estate values have risen, not fallen, in the areas of neighborhood shelters; that they do not attract feared "street people," since the intake processing occurs at other centers, and that cities really have no choice since both federal and state laws now mandate shelters as well as traditional housing. For those who fear the worst, perhaps no demonstrable facts will make a difference, but there are other considerations that might be persuasive.

One of the most precious assets any city can have is a sense of community. The opposite is, of course, a sense of alienation. The extreme danger of the latter is where you have isolated individuals who take up guns and randomly shoot at peaceful passers-by on our city highways.

We have already experienced this frightful tragedy but now some thought must be given to encouraging the sense of a caring community, one where we can all become involved in sharing and working towards a common goal.

Strangely enough, two California doctors, writing about how the mind, brain, body and society are intertwined, point out not only the religious and social utility of "caring for others, being generous to others and serving them" but state that doing so is not only helpful to the entire community but also to the health of the donor.

In other words, our white blood cells fight off disease more effectively when we feel ourselves part of a caring community, and the converse holds when we feel a sense of alienation.

So, when Irvine involves the community in caring for its homeless children and adults, it will promote community and caring, help to eliminate the dangerous quicksands of alienation with its random violence and perhaps reward us all with greater resistance to disease. A most unexpected bonus!

SYLVIA EASTON

Irvine

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