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Help for Homeless

January 03, 1988

I commend Mayor Maureen O'Connor and the city administration for opening the Municipal Gymnasium in Balboa Park to shelter the homeless during the recent cold and rainy weather. However, I suggest that the shelter remain open at all times, particularly during the cold, wet winter, rather than setting temperature and precipitation parameters. If it's uncomfortable at the minimum temperature set by the city for opening the shelter, isn't it just about as uncomfortable a few degrees above that?

I realize that there are expenses involved in operating centers for the homeless, but this situation involving thousands upon thousands of homeless individuals is a national disgrace, and those of us who are fortunate to have jobs and roofs over our heads must accept the responsibility for assisting them in every way we can.

The only difference between conditions that exist today and the Great Depression of the 1930s is that hobo jungles have been replaced by city parks, and automobiles have replaced freight cars as a means of migration. Entire families, including babies, are sleeping under trees, or, if they are lucky, in their cars.

How can the government continue to propagandize us about prosperity and misleading unemployment statistics when we are faced with a domestic crisis of tremendous proportions?

I hope that the mayor, the county Board of Supervisors and government bodies at all levels will address this problem head-on and concentrate their effort on finding solutions.

THOMAS J. VANDEVELD

President

United Food & Commercial Workers

Local 135

San Diego

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