PLATFORM : Only a Quick Fix
Gov. Pete Wilson’s agreement to open the National Guard armories as 90-day shelters for California’s homeless people is a laudable one, but residents of the state should not expect to see any real impact on the number of homeless people because of it. Emergency shelter is not a solution to homelessness.
The governor’s action is a victory not only for homeless people, but for the nonprofit, public- and private-sector groups that have long advocated the move. The old formula of opening the armories only under certain weather conditions was an administrative and human nightmare. Under the new plan, homeless people are not kept guessing about the availability of shelter, and service providers can effectively organize assistance.
The latter is the key. While emergency assistance is necessary, it does not solve homelessness. This solution lies in affordable housing, adequate income and comprehensive social services. The provision of reliable shelter is only a first, albeit very important, step.