Watchdog – If you build it they will come – dealing with Antioch’s homeless

Watchdog-LogoBy Barbara Zivica

In addition to having the highest number of Section 8 housing choice vouchers (HCV) in Contra Costa County, we now have the highest number of unsheltered homeless in the county. That’s why I was floored when I read Antioch’s plan to address the problem e.g. establishing a Suburban Poverty Task Force and creating a voucher donation program though local businesses and PayPal.

Sean Wright, the altruistic CEO of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce, who recently touted KIVA, a micro loan program to give borrowers in Kenya and the United States limited access to capital through interest-free loans, is quoted as saying “We need to empower people to change their own lives by teaching them to fish rather than creating dependency”.

Informing the homeless about available resources for addiction counseling, job training and temporary shelter is one thing, but handing out voucher donations, will only encourage more homeless people to relocate to Antioch. Regrettably, handouts such as unlimited welfare benefits or food stamps create dependency, they don’t “teach people to fish.”

Although Antioch has a law allowing it to fine private property owners for cleanup and ongoing inspection fees which Ryan Graham, Antioch’s deputy economic development director, states often compels the owners to break up homeless encampments, it is rarely enforced and doesn’t address homeless encampments on public property which are left to local law enforcement officers to deal with.

What is needed in this instance is proactive enforcement. Back in the days when the police department was located on 10 Street, there was a homeless population who used to camp in the city park on the corner of 10 and A Street. The Police Department at that time was so persistent in running them out, that one day a bunch of the homeless jumped aboard a boxcar and rode it out of town, never to come back. That’s the kind of persistence I’m talking about – not handing out vouchers which will only encourage the homeless to hang around for the “freebies.”

2 Comments to “Watchdog – If you build it they will come – dealing with Antioch’s homeless”

  1. Reginald Jamal Brown says:

    Excellent article. The homeless will always flock towards greener pastures (freebies). If there is one thing this city knows how to do, it is getting and providing “freebies”.

    It is interesting that Antioch has yearly events where they bus in the homeless from all over the county into the fair grounds. Then they are gifted with free food and healthcare. If I were homeless I wouldn’t even bother getting a ride back. I’d just stay in this city where I can thrive. Maybe in a couple of months I can get a 5 bedroom home for free on section 8.

    Let’s see.. where would the homeless rather be? How about Danville, Moraga, San Ramon, or Orinda? No way.. too many cops harassing them and no one wants to give free houses. Well how about Antioch? There is a free bus that will take them there for free food and many of them heard about all the free homes. Yup, Antioch it is!

  2. Cnm Jbm says:

    Politicians know they can put into their own pocket some of the free money.

Leave a Reply