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Our View

Let’s help reduce the homelessness problem in Placer County

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Know and Go:

What: Community meeting to inform new strategic plan on homelessness

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Maidu Community Center, 1550 Maidu Drive, Roseville

When we describe Placer County to our out-of town family and friends, we talk about the scenery, the relatively-affordable cost of living, the good schools, recreational options and the weather.

We don’t talk about sharing our downtown streets with the homeless who set up camp in front of storefronts, occurring daily in larger metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento. That doesn’t occur here on a regular basis, for the most part.

Los Angeles has about 58,000 homeless residents, San Francisco has at least 6,700 homeless residents and nearby Sacramento has about 2,600 homeless residents.

In 2018, 584 men, women and children are homeless in Placer County on a given night, according to the county’s Health and Human Services Department Director Jeff Brown. Of that number, 40 homeless residents are under the age of 18 and 76 homeless residents are 60 years old and older.  

Comparing just those numbers, Placer County might not seem to have a problem with the homeless. But no one should be without adequate shelter any night of the year.

Telltale signs of the homeless living as invisibly as possible are all around us in every Placer County city and town.

Random temporary outdoor places that homeless residents occupy are marked by bedding, clothing, food debris and other trash along grassy areas, trails, creeks and under overpasses throughout the county.

As we see these signs when driving to or from our houses, we have to be cognizant that many residents don’t have a safe place to call their own. These residents are all ages and need our help and our compassion.

Placer County Supervisor Jack Duran, in a Placer County website column last year, said that the homeless issue in Placer County is growing. This week, he told Gold Country Media that the homeless count is down countywide by 12 percent and down 18 percent in Roseville.

It’s encouraging that Placer County programs are helping reduce our homeless problem.

We're doing better.

But as long as we have 584 homeless residents, that’s 584 too many residents without a home.

We need to do more.

Duran this week said that community members need to keep an open mind, that the homeless residents that Placer County is trying to help have a connection here.

Many of them grew up here; many of them are longtime locals.

The county’s Health and Human Services Department director had several ways that we as individuals can help local service providers, such as The Gathering Inn, food banks, Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul Society.

That help can be by volunteering at these organizations that help the homeless and providing food, clothing and monetary support to the providers.

Or, Brown suggests, landlords can rent an empty unit or granny unit to families and individuals in need. Furthermore, businesses could provide an internship or hire individuals trying to reenter the work force.

The county has hosted a few meetings to get public input on causes and impacts of homelessness and potential solutions. The latest meeting is Thursday in Roseville. Community members can also email their feedback to scott@thurmondconsultingllc.com.

All of us can help fix the homelessness problem in Placer County.

For  more information on how the county and its partners, including nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups and law enforcement groups; are helping the homeless find homes, check out the county’s website at placer.ca.gov/homeless.