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Funds for Homeless Agencies

October 11, 1998

Re "Homeless Agencies Lose City Funding," Sept. 30.

The city of Ventura's justifications for bailing out on continued funding for Turning Point Foundation and Project Understanding shock me:

1. Our homeless, mentally ill population is somebody else's problem (i.e., because the county isn't doing its job, we won't help either.)

2. It's time to try something new (i.e., let's change for the sake of change.)

3. Requests to help the homeless are growing too large (i.e., the need is too great to warrant the continuation of our assistance.)

It is shameful, when we can find the collective will to spend millions of dollars year after year to rebuild our unstable Ventura Pier, that we have nowhere to house our mentally unstable population--our brothers and sisters--except the streets and jails.

How many are condemned to die from starvation, from untreated disease or from violence and abuse on the streets? The inhumanity of this habitat is exacerbated by law enforcement's woeful lack of preparation to handle the consequences of deinstitutionalization. Fifteen percent of our mentally ill population die either at their own hands or at the hands of law enforcement.

Turning Point Foundation and Project Understanding have been two of the few bright lights in all this darkness. They deserve ongoing support from both the county and the city--forever, or until our homeless problems have been solved.

Anyone following local current events knows that the county is on a collision course that is likely to cost taxpayers more than $30 million dollars in Medicare and MediCal reimbursements and is probably one of the most unlikely places funds will be available for improvements in the homeless situation.

Like a Scud missile from nowhere, this lack of insight into the plight of the mentally ill here in our own backyard shatters my senses.

SUSAN VINSON

Ventura

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