I haven’t lived in this area for very long, but I’m aware that the McHenry House Family Shelter takes in homeless families, while single homeless individuals have very little assistance here.
The stigma of homelessness, I believe, comes from the individuals we have all seen — tattered and disease-ridden, seemingly mentally ill or on drugs. But this is not the way all homeless should be portrayed. Especially in this economy, the difference between home and homeless is as tenuous as one or two paychecks.
The homeless individuals moving next door on Emerson Avenue could potentially have as recently as a few months ago worked for UPS, or McDonald’s, or Marshalls and unfortunately been laid off. Should these people be ignored or ostracized because they are single and aren’t eligible for local transitional housing for families?
My mother, whom I spoke of earlier, raised me by herself, and there were times growing up when I was well aware that had she not found a job that very month, we would have been without housing. My mother was a hard-working woman who went through some very difficult times during my childhood, but I managed to complete college with a bachelor’s degree from the University of San Francisco and, fortunately, have not had to endure the hardships that plagued her.
Regardless it still makes me understand that homelessness can happen to people in all different walks of life and in many different circumstances. As a single woman, had I not been lucky enough to obtain a degree and a stable job, I would hope that there would be a place like the proposed house on Emerson Avenue where I could turn for help restoring order to my life.
Please, before disregarding these people (and yes, they are people), try to understand that the folks “running the show” appear to be quite well-qualified and would like to find candidates to live in the home who would fit into a suburban neighborhood while not causing a nuisance to the neighbors.
To paraphrase, the occupants would be nonviolent, non-gang members, non-sex offenders, would be given health care and would have strict rules regarding drugs, alcohol and nightly curfews.
Sometimes good people simply have a bad time in life and need help. Who are we, as those lucky enough to receive monthly paychecks for the time being, to deny them the right to try to return to that life?
Please consider that, and in the meantime, I hope that you are lucky enough to continue to maintain the employment that allows you the ability to pay your rent or mortgage and support yourself and your families.
• Editor’s note: A house at 26 W. Emerson Ave. is being used by the Coalition of Tracy Citizens to Assist the Homeless as a place for single, homeless individuals to stay while they find employment.
• Adrienne Howell has lived in Mountain House since 2008. She is a registered nurse at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University.