Homeless update: Northern California - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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I recently attended two small discussion groups at a Vacaville senior center, which included presentations and comments by social workers and others who had personal relationships with the homeless. Some perspectives and data:

There are about 150 people living on the streets in Vacaville but nearly 2,000 in neighboring Fairfield, which is only slightly larger in population.

Some of the homeless do not want to return to the complexities and responsibilities of conventional life and see their life on the streets as a permanent camping trip. Such people, though in smaller numbers, have always been present in society, e.g., hobos and tramps. Some refuse to go to homeless shelters because they don’t want to follow the rules there.

Heroin and fentanyl have replaced meth as the drugs of choice among the Vacaville homeless.

About 80 percent of the homeless are mentally ill and/or have substance abuse issues. Only 20 percent are homeless solely because of financial issues and that group includes persons released from prison.

The director of Opportunity House said her group helps about 200 people each year in a highly disciplined living environment, where residents learn social skills and how to save money. They conduct random drug screening, which makes them ineligible for federal funding. Politicians at various levels put a priority on getting people off the streets even if they continue using drugs in housing.

People seem willing to accept a strictly run homeless boarding house in a suburban neighborhood.

The director said that the homeless people she encounters are largely not transient; they have lived in Vacaville for several years.

There is a shortage of homeless services for single men, often predicated in the belief that young men, in particular, are troublemakers and will harass the women. However, the director noted that it is often the insecure homeless women who are the “aggressors.” They will cling to and give themselves to any man at a shelter who is “getting his act together.”

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