Homeless Issues #17

Re: Sheriff invitation to have a community gathering on February 25th to discuss the homeless issues in ED County.

This is my impression; this is what I heard. This is what impacted me the most. The room was full with standing room only. The meeting was recorded for the benefit of the members of the Board of Supervisors.

The meeting started with a slide show by the Sheriff Department showing wet sleeping bags, trash, food storage, and all negative aspects of the encampments behind K-Mart. Statistics were presented regarding the 104 Sheriff calls to the location behind K-Mart over a 14 month period.

The result is that the homeless living behind K-Mart are going to be run out of there or are going to jail. I felt that the meeting was set up to express what the Sheriff Department whose  “boss,” County BS, (as Lt. Ashwort repeatedly reminded us) had decided that the homeless had to go. Where? They said they don’t want to just move then from one place to another. I felt, by their proposed actions, they don’t care where they go!

What surprised me most was the repeated reference that the Board Supervisors (BS) was the boss of Lt. Ashworth of the Sheriff Dept..

As those in attendance repeatedly explained,  the County BS is a very big obstacle. Plans are well thought out, using County owned property, Grace Place at Perk’s Court, to provide services to the homeless citizens of ED County. Land that includes 2 houses, storage facilities, with double-wide structure that can be used as housing, providing, showers (a health issue.), laundry facilities (a health issue.), trash disposal, some ability to educate and also bring order to the homeless population, is available, up and running BUT is restricted to ONLY 6 persons by the County.

We were asked by Lt. Ashworth to not “Bash” the County BS. However, his question to the attendees was “where can we put them”? The answer is that the County has places to put their disadvantaged citizens but will not open those places to the disadvantaged.

Again, if the County BS is the “BOSS,” they hold the solution. And as the “Boss” of the Sheriff Dept., they, the County BS, are the ones to stop, hold off, their planned attack on the disadvantaged and prepare a place to put our citizens when they do get run off.

Pastor Frank Gates made a simple, moral, observation.

” We have just seen a slide presentation of statistics and disrupted camp sites, we did not see “They’re just as good as I am. God loves them as good as he loves me. These are people with faces, who cry, who feel, who laugh …. In the center of this we are dealing with people, with our brothers and sisters.”

One person out of the crowed expressed her displeasure of having the homeless behing the K-Mart Shopping Center. Another, made that really dumb statement that we have heard in the past, that if we made provisions for the homeless citizens of our county, we would attract homeless from all over to come to ED county to stay. I know that there are homeless persons who have mental challenges, but no-one is that crazy to want to come up a mountain to a county that has nothing for them, and will only in the future, provide the few necessities needed to live. Other than those persons, as I remember it, were pro-active for finding a solution to provide for our homeless population in ED County.


The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors were listening. They apparently listened to the recorded meeting and have taken some very positive action. PRAISE GOD!

As reported in the Mountain Democrat News Paper of Feb. 26,2010.

” I think we should just butt out,” Supervisor Jack Sweeney suggested early in the discussion. ” The church is the church and the county is the county. I’ve always believed in the concept of sanctuary. If they do something that causes disruption in the neighborhood, then it’s our business.”

Supervisor Ray Nutting supported Sweeney’s opinion saying, “It’s what the churches have done for a long, long time.”

And Supervisor John Knight said, If it’s not a problem, then it never happened.”

Supervisor Sweeney added. “We’re trying to enter into a process that we don’t want to do ourselves – sheltering the homeless. If we don’t want to get into the business, then we should stay out of the business.” Nutting ended the discussion, saying, “Jack is right on.”

Is this the new day for the homeless in El Dorado County? Is this a new day for the El Dorado Board of Supervisors?

An interesting side light to all of this is that I got a call from a person named John D’Agostini about two weeks before this gathering by the Sheriff Dept. took place. I had never met him before. He asked me to sit down with him to talk about the homeless population in ED County. The name did not ring a bell other than roads, restaurants, and places had that last name attached. I thought it was a good idea as I attempt to educate people regarding homelessness. That “short ” meeting lasted longer than an hour; very good and thought out questions were asked, and I was greatly impressed by his intrest in the homeless problems in ED County. John knows more about the homeless population than most people in the public eye in ED County.

I try to keep A-political– not get caught up into that mess. But he impressed me. And now after seeing and hearing the present Sheriff Dept. speak, John impresses me much more.

The meeting was a sucess in that it brought the Board of Supervisors togeather, informed them, and they finally “GOT IT.”

Thanks to all of you who advocate for the “least of these our brothers and sisters.”

YES, we still need your financial help for us to continue our work keeping two vans on the road, 6 days a week providing the necessaties of life for our homeless population.