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Most Homeless Choose to Be, or Are Families

September 29, 2002

Re "The 'Homeless in Paradise' Inhabit Beach Cities in Growing Numbers," Sept. 8:

The impression I got was that the typical Orange County homeless are happy drunks loving the outdoor life. Reporter Janet Wilson states that Orange County's homeless fit the national pattern, in which two-thirds of the homeless are single men and three-quarters have substance abuse problems.

Perhaps this describes the homeless men, but this does not describe the majority of homeless in Orange County or San Clemente. Based on the County Infolink survey, an estimated 70% of the homeless are in families. This means there are close to 16,000 homeless in families in Orange County with about 18% of them (2,900) in south Orange County.

If the writer had questioned the director of Family Assistance Ministries further, she would have found out that most people she serves are families, and many live in their cars, state parks and motels, or are staying temporarily with friends or families.

The need for affordable housing is so great in Orange County that 66% of the renters can't afford the market rent for a one-bedroom apartment and 73% of the households are unable to afford the median-priced home. With statistics like these, we will see more homeless and overcrowding if land is not set aside for affordable apartments and higher-density housing isn't approved for more entry-level homes to be built.

Leslie Davis

Housing coordinator

for San Clemente

*

Harry the Hugger is not homeless, he is "houseless by choice." He is also a tax dodger because by his own admission he makes at least $50 a day, tax free yet.

Tom is another by-choice "houseless" man making tax-free money by his own admission, and his pay is $80 a day. That's $1,600 a month tax free, enough to make house payments and buy food and a car, so why doesn't he accept the responsibilities that go with being a renter or homeowner and paying his share of taxes?

Some people are truly homeless, but most are houseless by choice. They do not want the responsibility of taking care of a home.

Sleeping in public places is illegal. Not paying taxes on cash jobs is illegal too.

Instead of giving them handouts, governments should put them to work sweeping streets and cleaning parks, playgrounds and other public places. They should be earning their money, not sticking out a hand to say, "You owe me."

Jon Fleischer

Redlands

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