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SOUNDING OFF: Advisory group must know homeless

I have raised my children in this city since 1982. They went through the entire Laguna Beach School system, graduating from Laguna Beach High School and on to college. I have worked here all of my adult life.

Then I had a series of misfortunes "” death of my parents, theft of all of my belongings, loss of my business, mounting drinking problems, lack of support of my supposed friends.

This dispersion of the friends I thought I had was devastating; in total chaos I eventually became homeless. It was an enormous struggle, and I required a great deal of help to get a roof over my head again.

I write these things to explain why I am interested, perhaps more than the average citizen, in what goes on at the meetings of the advisory committee newly established to implement the recommendations of the Task Force on the Homeless, which disbanded last year after completing its work, i.e. the recommendations.

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The members of the committee are mostly unknown to me. I find that peculiar and a bit disturbing. I would have thought I would have known most of these people from my days on the street.

It seems that the City Council, for unknown reasons, has determined, with the exception of Colin Henderson, not to include the people who are most active in trying to help the homeless.

Judging from many of the public comments since the ACLU filed its lawsuit against the city, it seems many of us are prepared to speak on homeless matters without taking the time to learn anything about the people in our town who are homeless.

I frequently read about “them." If anyone took the time to meet some of our homeless citizens, they would learn that there is no “them."

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Except for the fact that most suffer from a disability, our homeless citizens are as different from one another as the committee members are different from one another.

From comments I’ve heard, I fear that some folks have made up their minds about “what to do about them" without regard to the facts.

Please don’t let that be the case with members of the implementation committee.

Please, take the time to get to know the human beings whose lives you are impacting in very profound ways.


PEGI M. LOPEZ lives in Laguna Beach.


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