Saturday, August 3, 2013


I completely understand why you would need to drink or drug if you are homeless. There is no escaping the constant stress and wondering what will go wrong next.

A couple of days ago, we got word from the campground that we had to move out. At that point, we could not find another campsite for this weekend - weekends are all booked up during summer. So, where will we go? Our time that should be spent looking for a more permanent living situation, will be spent looking for a new temporary solution.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 38% of homeless are dependent on alcohol and 26% on other drugs. This is supposedly the major reason people become homeless. In 2005, over 19 MILLION people needed, and did not receive, help with substance abuse.

Neither I or my camp partner drinks or drugs, though there are times I wish I did. I love a good blended margarita with salt on the rim from time to time, but am afraid I would not stop if I had one now. It would be easy for me to become addicted to not feeling the stress. Be warned: if I do start drinking, I have a history of drunk dialing... giggle... if it is 2am and your phone rings, it's me, blubbering.

There is also a high percentage of mental illness among the homeless population - around one third. That  means that nationally there are enough homeless people with mental illness to fill FOUR cities the size of Santa Cruz. Again, if you were not crazy when this started, I can understand how you would become crazy from the stress and lack of sleep. How can anyone possibly think people CHOOSE this as a lifestyle?

Regardless, homeless people are the poster child for chronic stress (continual stress over a long period of time). The symptoms are the inability to concentrate, insomnia, aggression, rashes, anxiety, intense mood swings, depression (fits of anger, lack of energy, suicidal thoughts), and high blood pressure. These are also signs of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Our society is so image conscious...
How you are perceived when people find out you do not live in a traditional home. In the campground, it is one of the first questions people ask... "where ya from?" I'm not one to lie, so I tell them we live in the campground while we look for a home. We explain that finding dog-friendly housing is very hard here. The first reaction is the "pity look" they give, and then they move away as if we are lepers. Are you afraid homelessness is catchy like a cold? Are you afraid we are homeless because we are "bad" people who will steal or harm them?

I really need to come up with a good lie... maybe I am from a foreign country and don't speak English? From Dogotopia and I only speak woofish? From Titlandia and I only speak Boobish?

This whole experience is dehumanizing... and I don't take that well.

So far, everyone we have met are working people struggling to make it in a county that should be ashamed of its homeless policies. If you vote for Ryan Coonerty for Supervisor, the whole county will be subjected to his short-sighted policies that have not worked in the City of Santa Cruz... policies that have criminalized being homeless (as if we could afford to pay fines?)... policies that the federal government has found do NOT work.

Why doesn't our local government listen to what the federal government has found that actually works? Stop using the same ideas that have been ineffective for at least the last 30 years!

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