Shame on Santa Barbara

homeless in Santa Barbara

homeless in Santa Barbara

They’ll be sitting with their backs to half the people coming and going on the sidewalk. They’ll have half the potential contacts with the public. It might not be financially beneficial for them. — Marck Aguilar, Santa Barbara redevelopment agency

Santa Barbara in California has a sizeable homeless population. How then do they help them? Follow the example of the Church Urban Fund in the UK, provide seed money to help homeless and others less fortunate than ourselves to improve their self-esteem, empower them. Err, no. $50,000 is to be spent on reorientating park benches in the streets so those who sit there have less opportunity for eye contact with passers by and remove the backs of many of the benches so they are less comfortable to sit on.

This mean-spirited proposal has come out of the Santa Barbara businesses community. This is their Big Idea of how to deal with a homelessness problem, a problem that is to them, not to the people who lack a roof over their head.

Those opposed are not opposed on the grounds that this does nothing to help people who are homeless but because it may ‘flush’ them elsewhere!

Four homeless have already died on the streets of Santa Barbara this year, 32 died on the streets last year.

It does not do to have people on the streets, offending those who wish to go shopping.

The land on which Santa Barbara Zoo lies was donated by a wealthy heiress who when her husband died and having no children, converted her mansion into a home for the homeless during the Great Depression. Homeless people converged on her mansion because they heard that they would be fed and housed. She wanted Santa Barbara to carry on her tradition of helping the homeless. Her name has been wiped from the zoo and from the history of Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara should be renamed Santa Barbaric. The people of Santa Barbaric should hang their heads in shame.

Santa Barbara seeks to turn the tables on the homeless
Tackling poverty together
Homeless at Christmas

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10 Responses to “Shame on Santa Barbara”

  1. laineestreet Says:

    Here we have the results of human beings expecting a larger agency / church to take care of the homeless situation for them. To be more specific, the middle class and upper class do not want to deal with this; and, the government is not prepared to deal with this. We, the beings of this world need to, each one of us, go and personally help one or two of the needy (this includes our forests and water systems, and not pawn the problem off to someone else. The greater majority of us are out for ourselves only. This is why this world is in its current state. We need to act and not just talk of acting. Yes protesting helps to make people and our government aware, but not enough of us are going out and actually getting our hands dirty. We can volunteer to serve food at a soup kitchen, but it only puts an extremely small bandage on the problem for a minute. We need to take it further.

    There are a few helping and educating the poor. We need to raise awareness and help our fellow human beings see how they can help. This starts with our youth. One of my sons is on a humanitarian mission to El Salvador. He is helping with poverty and gangs problems there. He will return this fall. My youngest is preparing to go to the Brisbane, Australia area the first of March to help them dig out of the flooded areas and rebuild. I find that teaching our children from a young age to help their fellow man quite rewarding not only for those in need, but also for each young person. Many lessons are learned in the process that could never be taught at home or at school. By going to third world, and ravaged areas humbles young adults and when they arrive back home, they are more appreciative of the opportunities that they have and can share with locals in need. They are also more patient and more willing to work their way through college and universities when scholarships and funding is not available.

    My daughter works with the physically and mentally challenged and has been their advocate with funding many times. She also knows sign language and works at a school for the deaf.

    My oldest son was on the initial invasion of Iraq. That was one of the hardest times of my life knowing my son’s life was on the line. Luckily, he was not injured. As things were calming down a little, his unit was sent to the boarder of Iraq and Iran. He had started working on Arabic six months before he left for duty. By the time his unit reached the boarder, he knew enough to be a translator. I have always taught my children about the major beliefs of the different religions. My son related an experience when he had to stand up for a Muslim family. This family, (mother, father, and two children,) were traveling from Iran back into Iraq to see grandparents they had not been able to see for a long time. The other soldiers with my son decided that this family needed to be detained. Mind you, the soldiers had searched the car and found nothing. It was beastly hot and the family was kept in the oven like car. My son put up an argument that finally convinced the others including the officer in charge to at least allow my son to get them some water. The children were crying. They had been detained for six hours. The mother asked to please get them some food too. Some horrible idiots in my son’s unit laughed and brought the family meals with pork for the meat. My son looked at the meals and comment on the choice. The other soldiers just laughed and said that they will never know the difference until after they have eaten and are told so. I was so proud of my son who threw the meals to the ground and taught a lesson of humanity to his fellow soldiers about achieving peace through an understanding and tolerance of the different religions of this world, not trying to eliminate religions. Then he personally got meals with chicken in them for the family. My son’s wife works for the main hub of our state’s Food Bank. She has and is helping many to feed families and find work.

    With my example here, I am hoping to show that with the right education by parents and neighbors, our youth can be shown how to make this world a better place by actively being a part of the solution.

    ((((LOVE)))) to you,


    • keithpp Says:

      I do not ‘expect’ the church to pick up the pieces, but if $50,000 is to be spent to abuse the homeless, would the money not be better spent helping the homeless, for example following the lead set by the Church Urban Fund?

      Tackling poverty together

      I think it is a disgrace the way Santa Barbara is dealing with this and I am only too happy to shame them before the world.

    • keithpp Says:

      Yes, as human beings we need to do more, to help our fellow human beings, to help our fellow creatures, to not forget the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Covenant we have with God as Custodians of Gaia.

      Sung evensong in Holy Trinity

      Too many people walk on by, or worse, screw their fellow human beings, anything to get an advantage, to seek a fast buck. Companies are even worse, they abuse their customers and employees, rape the planet.

      I wonder where these good folk of Santa Barbara will be at the End of Days, when the sheep are separated from the goats?

      I asked you for food, I asked you for shelter. But we did not see you. I was the beggar you kicked in the street. I was the homeless man who you flushed off the street.

    • keithpp Says:

      You must be very proud of your son in Iraq. What you described of the behaviour of his unit is sadly not atypical.

      I had the honour and privilege of being with Iraqis, journalists, US soldiers, human rights workers about a year after the invasion of Iraq. They told me many similar stories, some far worse. The common complaint of the Iraqis was that the US soldiers had no understanding, often bordering on contempt, for their culture. And of course they spoke no Arabic.

      Eyewitness Iraq
      Occupation and Resistance in Iraq

      Talking with Canon Andrew White he confirmed this was a problem.

      Dinner with Canon Andrew White

      It would have taken a lot of courage to do what you son did.

      Sadly we saw exactly the same behaviour in Vietnam.

    • keithpp Says:

      The vision of the Church Urban Fund is to get every church, every member of every church, out working together to tackle poverty. They do this by talking to churches, providing help and expertise, and by providing seed funding to help local community projects involving local activists get off the ground and up and running.

      The Source Café in Aldershot is one such project where it helps young people and gives them a safe environment in which to meet. Which reminds me, I promised myself I would pay them a visit.

    • keithpp Says:

      A lesson in humility from Elaine.

  2. keithpp Says:

    Further investigation would probably show that many of those living on the streets are those broken in mind, body and spirit from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Their ranks swelled by those put out on the street by the greed of bankers.

    Last Friday I was at the Guildford Institute in Guildford for lunch. An art exhibition called ‘Having the Courage’ by Combat Stress (11 January – 8 March 2011).

    Founded in 1919, Combat Stress provides specialist help to ex-Service men and women who suffer from Service related psychological injury. The title for the exhibition is from an observation made by one veteran about the challenges of engaging in a creative pursuit. ‘Having the courage to give it a go’ can open up a whole range of new possibilities. Apart from gaining a sense of achievement, art-making also provides an important and pleasant distraction from intrusive memories of past trauma.

  3. Elaine Says:

    I agree with you that many are ex-Service men and women who suffer from Combat Stress. Wonderful about the art exhibit and finding a way to get these beings to express the feelings they keep deep inside. Yes, there are people out there who are doing things to help; but we still need to help our neighbors to understand and to get on board.

    Keith, I wrote a play called “The Healing Wall.” It was written to help Vietnam Vets and their families heal after this crazy war. I am going to email it to you. If you feel like reading it, do. If not, it is okay. It takes place at the Vietnam War Memorial. As people visit and find their loved one’s name on the wall, a whole world opens up for them as their loved ones communicate with them from beyond the veil. The hell this country suffered in Vietnam and on the home front is brought to life for the audience. Writing this play helped me to heal and to accept some of the awful things that happened back home while my brother was right in the thick of battle in Vietnam and Cambodia.

  4. keithpp Says:

    What is tragic is that men and now women come back from these illegal wars broken, only to be abandoned by those who sent them. They have to fall back on charities to help them.

    A couple of years ago I wandered around the married quarters in Aldershot, Home of the British Army. If a soldier was invalided out of the army or worse was killed, the family not only lost a father and husband, they were given a few months notice and kicked out of their homes. The local council refused to house the homeless family, telling them they should go back to where they had come from.

  5. laineestreet Says:

    That is so sad about what the British Army did; the American Armed Forces did; and the people of the country did to their own soldiers. I don’t even wonder why so many are messed up for life. After interviewing countless Vets., I understand why this era scarred our world in a way that we have not been able to repair. As Paulo Coelho says, we need to move on and remain in the moment, but it’s not easy when we keep rolling out more wars like the one we have in Iraq and Afghanistan ….. Oh, excuse me, they are not even considered wars…they are considered conflicts. That way the government can pay the soldiers less.

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