Tuesday, October 20, 2009


originally published on Jan 1 2008 on the HUFF yahoo groups list


by Becky Johnson

Santa Cruz, Ca. -- The average age of death of a homeless person in Santa Cruz County is 48 yrs old. There is no doubt that exposure to the cold, the rain, the dark, and the added stress contributes to mortality rates. These numbers are disturbing and should be triggering bells and whistles at the SC County Dept. of Health. They are not.

But who is to blame?

-- City leaders for failing to provide sufficient shelter
-- Dept of Health for failure to house indigents who are conservable
-- greed in the real estate market, including the practice of evicting tenants in order to sell the house empty
-- low wages offered by employers
-- service providers for failing to raise the alarm due to fear of losing funding
-- local 'family-owned' businesses who urge a policy of police sweeps and criminalization of homelessness
-- landlords who raise their rents precipitously
-- media who ignore the problem or add to the problem by their unsympathetic attitudes towards those suffering from homelessness
-- the Federal govt. for cutting HUD funding
-- The State of California for failing to provide health care for all
-- Churches who have the means, the mission, and the tax advantage to help, but don't

In a way, all the citizenry of Santa Cruz are to blame for allowing homelessness to continue year after year without putting our resources towards solving it.

Becky Johnson is a member of HUFF, a not-for-profit, all-volunteer, peer-advocacy organization which advocates for the rights of poor and homeless people and works for social justice located in Santa Cruz, California. HUFF meetings are every WED. from 10:30AM to Noon at the Subrosa Café on Pacific Ave. Free coffee if you're homeless.

Snail-mail us at:
Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom
309 Cedar St. PMB 14B -- Santa Cruz, Ca. 95060


  1. You forgot to blame God for letting His children suffer.

  2. G-d taught us how to treat each other. And it wasn't to be neglectful. It wasn't to be exploitive. And it wasn't to stand by and do nothing when human suffering confronts you in your path.

  3. My point was that since you were blaming everybody else, why not start at the top.

  4. My view is that the SAME lack of humanity which has become widespread, which caused the Wall Street Rip-Offs of Americans, has caused homelessness in a sense (as an acceptable level of 'collateral damage' nationwide). As it became acceptable to buy houses for investment without any concern for the immediately displaced; as it became easier and easier for American to convince themselves (despite the obvious) to 'blame the victims' of their greed and self-centered outlooks. Maybe if we expected government to 'work FOR us all'. If most of us began to put out the energy and learn the basics of being a civic and conscious person which democracy would require, our patently false assumptions about what "the government" should or shouldn't do for us would grow up a little. Why would any thinking person wawnt to "blame God" for a problem that's obviously our own creation. With a vengeance. It is much worse than 'burning witches' to permit the wholesale dissection of people's lives; and to cut them off from health care, mobility, social contact so we dont have to see our greed is immoral. To cut them off from healthy, safe food while throwing away tons, stuffing silos, and permitting Big Business to destroy and toxify our Nation's farming history is equally stuoid. Letting the worst victims fade to death in isolation will come back and haunt us all. It is a hostile form of neglect. Individually, we could be prosecuted for doing similar things to immediate family members. It's bad enough to "trade one injustice for another", a common enough happening. To amplify it because of some dim hope of getting your slice of greed and inflation leaves you spiritually accountable for those whose deaths you abet. Economists call this "The Reagan Miracle", even tho' it took 4 presidents to create the full scope of this economic nonsense.


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