The Water Cooler – The Top Cause of Homelessness in America

August 15, 2018 12:00 pm · 97 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it.

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon.

Today’s question:

Give us your opinion: What do you think is the top cause of homelessness in America?

Talk about it….

Concerned Citizen August 15, 2018 at 12:03 PM

Bad decision making.

Rumplestiltskin August 15, 2018 at 4:18 PM

BINGO! We have a winner here!

We all make bad decisions once in a while. But, it’s what you do after. Make another bad decision by not learning from your, or other’s mistakes?

Concordejet August 15, 2018 at 12:13 PM

Drug Addition
poor money managment
No family
Giving money to the Riches
Mental Illness

Selkie August 15, 2018 at 7:13 PM

Also disabilities and other health related problems.

My August 15, 2018 at 12:31 PM


AnonZ August 15, 2018 at 12:34 PM

The economy, the cost of housing, medical insurance, the cost of living period. The fact that wages are stagnant yet the cost of living as gone up enormously in the last 20 years.

Dawg August 15, 2018 at 12:38 PM

High rents, unemployment, alcoholism, drug addiction, poverty, no work skills, low wages, mental illness, uneducated, eviction, lost their home due to a storm, fire, or any other disaster, domestic violence and some people want to be homeless.
The list goes on and on.
I was homeless for about a year after serving in Vietnam and slept in my car, it was my choice and I have no regrets. After fighting in a war, I wanted to relax and visit with friends and family. I wasn’t in any hurry to get a job, and hanging out on Haight St. in the late 60’s was fun. After about a year, I decided to go back to work.

What The ?? August 15, 2018 at 12:45 PM

Income inequality would be number 1, followed by mental health issues. If you are in a low wage job you live every day on the edge and one misstep, whether self inflicted or not, will tip you over the edge.

When you do fall it just becomes a downward spiral. Get sick and lose your job, then quickly lose your home, car, etc. Once that happens how do you get a job when you have no address or no way to look for work? If you don’t have someone to support you, you find yourself on the street and it just gets worse from there.

We need a country where if you work full time you can earn enough to not only support yourself and your family but also one that you are able to recover from these type of setbacks, and that’s not the situation right now.

Really... August 15, 2018 at 2:05 PM

Please give half of your income to the homeless on the streets, through charities, churches, just make sure it is at least half.

The best way to solve income inequality is to make sure ALL give up half of their income.

Thanks for helping!

Really... August 15, 2018 at 2:20 PM

Please do donate half of your income to the homeless, charities, churches, but make sure it is half at the minimum. As you probably already know, the only way to fight income inequality is for everyone to participate and give up half their income.

Thanks for volunteering to help to get this started!

What The ?? August 15, 2018 at 3:36 PM

Huh don’t recall saying that at all. Problem isn’t that the middle class, which I would fall into, is getting too much. The problem is the ultra rich just keep getting richer. Jeff Bezos’s net worth is 143 BILLION and there’s lots more billionaires out there that can and should pay more in taxes.

Here’s another thought for you. If you really want to have a dialog try not to create these straw-man arguments you hear on Fox news and actually try to listen to other’s point of view instead of assuming you know exactly what other’s are thinking.

Rollo Tomasi August 15, 2018 at 4:46 PM

It’s not a zero sum game. Those billionaires having what they have isn’t stopping anyone from attaining the same

Justyfiable Languor August 16, 2018 at 6:55 AM

I have to laugh at the idea of income equality. Any one that believes this is possible must also believe the Clintons, Soros, Pelosi, Feinstein and the catholic church will pour their assets into the kitty.

All or nothing ( zero sum game )…you know it won’t happen. Socialists, communists and fascists always take then KEEP the wealth. This is why antifa, and rioters of all stripes are pawns. As in tools.

What The ?? August 16, 2018 at 8:02 AM

So there’s a limitless amount of money? Ah no, every business makes so much profit and has to decide how to share that among employees/shareholders/investment.

Its pretty simple, there is a limited pool of money and our taxes/regulations play a big part in how that money is divided and the rules right now favor the rich. Just look at capital gains, the top rate is 20% so I pay more in taxes on the salary I get for work then an investor is taxed. Doesn’t make any sense.

Rollo Tomasi August 16, 2018 at 4:23 PM

So if a business improves their product/service, the amount of profit they make can’t increase without diminishing the profits of others?

MoJo August 15, 2018 at 12:48 PM

First off, what is considered a home? Are people that live in RV’s, Campers or Trailers considered homeless? What about tents or cardboard houses? Do we differentiate between a retired couple traveling the US in a 40 foot Motor home and a drug addicted, mentally ill man living in a crappy Rv. I think all of these can be considered homes with some being better than others. So if we define homelessness a having nothing to sleep in then I would say the leading cause is inability to improvise a structure of some sort to protect oneself from the elements.

Shiloh August 16, 2018 at 7:11 AM

Serious? Of course it’s not a retired couple traveling in an RV by choice. And if you live under cardboard, you’re homeless. People who aren’t homeless use a decent portion of their income to cover the expenses relating to sheltering and keeping themselves and their families every month. Rent or mortgage, property tax, water, gas and electricity.

warbirds45 August 15, 2018 at 1:03 PM

No home……As Roger Miller once said….King of the Road!

J August 15, 2018 at 1:12 PM

Schizophrenia and drug addiction.

eric August 15, 2018 at 2:21 PM

exactly, its drugs and mental health

Bob August 15, 2018 at 1:18 PM

Drug addiction and lack of mental health services.

Merc August 15, 2018 at 1:23 PM

Mental illness and the BIG PHARMA is only making it worse 😡🤬

RANDOM TASK August 15, 2018 at 1:30 PM

Well this question is possibly loaded …..

Now if you mean people who have no home or apartment due to extenuating circumstances …..we will never know the full extent and it is dense to believe we can as we type on something non of these homeless have .

Now if this is the dem version of “homelessness” as in bums and druggies and people who want nothing to do with society all together ….well I believe the answer lyes within the description itself ….

And a real simple answer is dems love the down trodden …they love people down on their luck ….it lines the pockets of dems and rockets their careers as they plaude and pander and derive a subject any subject that will incite the powder puff voters … increase services even though many services already exist the dems always love to add to them in sub catagories and extensions ….they never audit a service to see why it is not adequate …..they just throw more money at it as much as they can ….or at least earmarked for it …..why do you think every high ranking dem has a charity …non profit of course …..right ooooh sorry left don’t want to incite a riot ……from the powder puffs

Selkie August 15, 2018 at 7:20 PM

You’re weird.

Roz August 15, 2018 at 1:40 PM

Between drugs, alcohol, mental illness, physical disabilities, lack of mental ability to hold a job, or pure laziness,…..I have witness all these which have caused folks I know or have known to be homeless. Some of them have gotten back on their feet, have job(s) and roommate(s),… but the others are lost souls,….you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

Lena August 15, 2018 at 9:11 PM

The problem has never been this bad in my 75-year lifetime. Maybe it is something contageous, because whenever we have a downturn in the economy (like we saw under Obama) the problem gets worse and there is more of it every time we do. The vulnerable in our society are the first to suffer during these downturns, and the last to recover. Clearly, no one wants to live like this. The services they need are just not available to them, and they should be able to request the ones they need as they feel they need them. You clearly can’t round them up and treat them all the same because they each have a different story and different needs.

Darwin August 16, 2018 at 8:22 AM

The services they need are available to them. Do some research before you spout nonsense.
At the shelters you are assigned a counselor to sign you up for services, GA, low income housing, mail box, laundry, drug rehab ( outpatient/residential), help you sign up for student loans to get training to make them employable. Services are there period.
The only people who suffer are the truly mentally ill because they fall through the cracks because of the drug addict felons who have flooded the system.

Concord August 15, 2018 at 1:55 PM

Cost of living
no job

Stove August 15, 2018 at 2:08 PM

Overseas investors buying properties to renovate and post on Airbnb, thus driving up home prices with these overseas cash investors the normal person cannot compete with on price of a property. Also Big Pharma who profits from drug addicts in a double dip to sell drugs, then sell you Narcan to recover from your overdose on initial said drugs.

Long timer August 15, 2018 at 9:45 PM

Seriously? You think overseas investors are the reason for our high home prices? Guess you don’t understand basic economics (supply and demand). Facebook pays an average salary of $240K per year. They didn’t exist a decade ago. Don’t you think their 10’s of thousands of employees with big wads of cash have a role in rising home prices? Add in the Google, and many other tech titans in the Bay Area paying sky high salaries and it’s no wonder home prices are so high.

Silva August 16, 2018 at 9:05 AM

I’ve witnessed the Airbnb thing first hand. My DIL is a house cleaner for a few foreign Airbnb owners in North and West Oakland.

Kentucky Derby August 15, 2018 at 2:18 PM

The top cause – poverty. There are several contributing factors – all listed above – but you can’t have a roof over your head if you don’t have any money.

Kinsey Leaky August 15, 2018 at 2:19 PM

Being lazy and not wanting to contribute a thing to society and not wanting to pay taxes, support themselves and wanting everything for free.
The heck with them I don’t care what their reason is and YES I really don’t care about them or how they got that way.

Reply August 15, 2018 at 3:23 PM

This is the most ridiculous answer I’ve ever honestly b lie be the people in the streets want to be there..they are either mentally ill and therefore never able to work or drug addiction which leads to arrests and therefore unable to get a job..drug addiction isn’t something anybody I’ve known to be addicted wants..maybe at He beginning but they want out and just can’t get the willpower or reason to do so cuz they don’t see any hope on the other side..for example even if they get clean they still have a record and little to no job history and probably a record therefore they are unemployable..these people are human beings with histories n if u don’t feel anything for them then you are less of a human than they are

Kinsey Leaky August 15, 2018 at 3:55 PM

Hey man, ain’t my problem or concern they got problems or chose the road they went down.
Just cause I don’t care don’t make me the bad guy, it’s my right to not give a damn about them or how they got where they are.

Darwin August 15, 2018 at 4:38 PM

@kinsey leaky
I don’t care about them either. The majority 99% are self inflicted drug addict felons who have all been to treatment numerous times on the taxpayer thanks to Prop 36, and have burned every bridge There is a very small percentage that are actually mentally ill that fall through the cracks due to the drug addict felons flooding the system.
Don’t be an ENBLER. People make choices good and bad. And the old criminal record excuse for not getting a job is bull. You can petition the court for a Change Of Plea (COP) and get the charges reduced and dismissed as long as the victim is made whole. And there many places that hire felons. For example most truck driving companies as long as you don’t have an auto theft conviction, just have to pass a drug test. Also, as we speak there are 50+ beds at The Salvation Army (free) right now if someone wants help. So don’t be an ENABLER!!

Lena August 15, 2018 at 9:18 PM

@Darwin Much of that rehab enabler nonsense you’re spouting has been disproven by current medical and scientific research on addiction.

Darwin August 16, 2018 at 7:41 AM

@lena rehab has been proven to work. You can’t help those who are not ready for change. There are millions in recovery who will disagree with you. Statistics are a soft science, you can mold them how you like. You have to ask who requested them and why. They are probably trying to allocate the funds somewhere else.

MovingOutOfCA August 16, 2018 at 1:21 PM

Actually most drug addicts don’t care, and they refuse services. I got fed up trying to help the homeless. The majority don’t want help. The sad part is the mentally ill, who fall through the cracks. Most need to be in supervised living facilities, but the loons decided they shouldn’t be “ locked up”. Now they are just cast out. This state treats illegals better than our mentally ill citizen’s.

There are many people who just don’t want to participate in society and feel living on the streets afffords them this opportunity. When you work with these people, the TRUTH becomes known.

Darwin August 16, 2018 at 3:50 PM

I couldn’t agree with you more, you can’t help those who do not want help.

DD August 15, 2018 at 2:45 PM

Had to clean out a homeless camp for my job several years ago. All the residents were (seemingly) in their 20’s and 30’s. A local shelter provided a bus and a truck to transport them, and their belongings, to a local shelter where they would have been given a bed and a meal, along with counseling and employment services.
None of them wanted to go.

Lena August 15, 2018 at 9:23 PM

Wouldn’t you be wary? I heard the violence, threats of violence, thefts, and other crimes in shelters keep most homeless away. The homeless would certainly know better than anyone else about what girs on in shelters, I would think.

Darwin August 16, 2018 at 7:45 AM

The homeless (feral people) do not want to go to the shelters because they they don’t want to follow the rules. They want to keep using. As dangerous as the shelter may be it is still safer than under a bridge, staff have phones. Duh.

Justifiable Languor August 16, 2018 at 2:20 PM

DD: I know some one that lunched at a park for ten years. He became friendly with the homeless ( druggers ) that hung out there. Mid 20s, parents threw them out for refusing to accept the usual responsibilities of being an adult.

They would submit during the winter, then return to their slovenly ways during nicer weather. They laughed at the working man for his lifestyle.

So, you are right about some that refuse help. More than the “optimists” think, I am sure.

Years later he sees them out and about. Human wrecks.

concord ygnacio August 15, 2018 at 2:48 PM

Greedy landlords. High cost of living.

PH Dad August 15, 2018 at 2:59 PM

The elephant in the room that no one has mentioned yet…
It’s mostly about market forces, the laws of supply and demand.
Housing has a very low vacancy rate at this time, thus we have many homeless. Too little supply and too much demand.
We actually have plenty of housing units for the people who are legally in this country. If we were to ‘evict’ the estimated 2.4 million unauthorized alien citizens of other countries in just California. (estimate as of 2014 per Pew Research), the supply of housing relative to the demand would shift.
This would lead to lower rental prices as market forces shift the costs lower.
The reduction of persons in the labor force would have an opposite effect. With more open jobs, those who need work would be better able to find it (and keep it).
So, the end result is fewer people who are institutionally or structurally homeless and lower unemployment numbers. The byproduct of this is that as more people have something productive to do and hopefully have an increase in their perceived self-worth, they would not use drugs to escape from an unhappy existence.
Ultimately the real winners of this are the taxpayers who have to currently pay for services for the homeless and for the increased infrastructure cost associated with illegal immigration.

Ricardoh August 15, 2018 at 3:11 PM

Drugs and wasting their time during the school years. No parental guidence.

Justifiable Languor August 15, 2018 at 3:16 PM

Drug addiction, alcoholism. Both of which cause mental imbalance. Also, some self medicate because of inability to cope and don’t have family support.

Some are mentally ill from abuse and internal chemical imbalance. Some were also fed drugs by family members as an introduction to their lifestyle.

The latest cause is outrageous rise in cost of living and in CA, and the strange increase of fires. Don’t forget abject hopelessness and plain ol lazy good for nothin’.

Instead of applying a one thing cures-all approach, these people must be categorized. Proper assessment will lead to appropriate help. Some of course, cannot be helped.

Bart commuter August 15, 2018 at 3:20 PM


Hope Johnson August 15, 2018 at 3:26 PM

The leading cause of homelessness for women is domestic violence, especially severe physical and sexual abuse.

Frank Faragasso August 15, 2018 at 3:38 PM

So bad choices is one of the leading cause of homelessness for women.

Atticus Thraxx August 15, 2018 at 4:34 PM

I don’t have any true insight into the problem but I got to wondering,taking human frailty and market forces out of the equation for a moment, from a practical standpoint we have a given number of people we can say “live” here. We also have a given amount of living space square footage. Both those numbers will drift some just in day to day course of events. Take into account houses, apartments, condos and even prison space, do we even have enough housing for them all under the best of possible scenarios? I’d bet not. And I’d bet the error is significant.

Silva August 15, 2018 at 5:34 PM

Frank, I hope I’m understanding you wrong. Because if you just said women are responsible for being victims of domestic violence because they made bad choices, that would be really stupid.

Hope Johnson August 15, 2018 at 7:09 PM

@Frank Faragasso

Some homeless women are young women abused by family members or trusted family friends and relatives. Unlike your comment, which says more about you than any homeless person, these are not choices.

LeeRoy August 15, 2018 at 7:27 PM

I’d disagree with this one unless you are saying child abuse and child sexual abuse lead to life choices later (drug abuse, poor relationships, dropping out of school, etc) that culminate in homelessness.

Hope Johnson August 15, 2018 at 8:01 PM

Original post asked for an opinion but this one has been confirmed repeatedly and you can easily research it. Obviously child abuse can lead to multiple problems later in life, including homelessness. But also some of those children choose to flee an abusive situation and end up on the street. Some are on the street because shelters and foster homes are often not safe places for women.

Justyfiable Languor August 16, 2018 at 6:45 AM

The LGBT cannot have it both ways with regards to women safety issues. I am referring to the recent assinine experiment with unisex public restrooms.

Frank Faragasso August 15, 2018 at 3:37 PM

Government restrictions on housing over the past 40 years has been the biggest cause in California which is the only state with rising homelessness. Government restrictions have made the inventory of homes go down while the population goes up, the government also the leading cause of increased costs of building new homes Making excuses for peoples’ poor decisions and not holding them accountable.

Forsythe August 15, 2018 at 3:57 PM

It’s easier to get homeless people with mental illness into jail than into care.

It wasn’t until the mental institution were shut down (late in the 20th century), that homelessness started devastating lives and communities.

The solution? Many mentally ill people now end up in jail, which is far more expensive. It is also brutal and clueless.

J. August 15, 2018 at 4:00 PM

Loss of family, and chasm to the community.

Always Right August 15, 2018 at 4:06 PM

1) substance abuse 40%
2) mental illness caused by substance abuse 30%
3) mental illness – other causes 10%
4)vagabonding – avoiding work, avoiding police 10%
5) bad luck 10%

concord ygnacio August 15, 2018 at 5:28 PM

Sorry, substance abuse does not cause mental illness. And “vagabonding” would seem like a bad way to avoid police contact.

LeeRoy August 15, 2018 at 7:24 PM

Always Right nails it. There’s no one cause and I think the only think I’d add is many folks overlap in several of those areas.

And yes concord ygnacio. Maybe he’s overly simplifying but chronic methamphetamine abuse absolutely screws up mental health and changes people. Whether it’s a try physiological or psychological change chronic drug abusers absolutely suffer from some form of mental illness.

I work around homeless regularly. The only adjustment I might make is to bump up the organic mental illness group from 10% to more like 20%. There are a lot of crazy’s out there who don’t use dope. They in turn are more invisible because they don’t impact or have as much contact with others.

Shiloh August 16, 2018 at 7:17 AM

Concord Ygnacio, you’re wrong there. Look up the effects of using meth long-term (even short-term!). Definitely causes irreversible damage to the brain and psyche. I’ve seen it in action 🙁 These people can be mentally ill because of substance abuse.

Anonanonagain August 15, 2018 at 4:14 PM

!. California being so expensive to live in.
2. Drugs, mental illness and alcohol abuse
3. The disintegration of family
4. Racism
5. Education not being valued and seen as a way out of poverty and the sheer fact that education is so expensive and only available to a certain segment of the populace.
6. Not having schools that teach skills that are greatly needed, such as plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, welders etc.

Darwin August 15, 2018 at 5:48 PM

Racism???, education only available to a certain segment of the populace????
WTF, people of all races are homeowners and have successful careers, such as judges, teachers, doctors, president etc.
Anyone can get an education it’s called student loans. You are a race baiter and an enabler.

Kinsey Leakey August 15, 2018 at 4:20 PM

I just walked and drove all through our neighborhood area today and confirmed they are no homeless anywhere. This is off Walnut and Oak Grove area from Northgate to Arbolado Dr and West to Wiget Ln to YV road and up Wiget to the end and searched back over to area east of Wiget to Northgate. I’m talking 3 sq miles.
Nope they ain’t around here so no worries. I guess WCPD keeps em run out pretty well, altho I saw a basket man walking past Target heading to downtown, cops were there fast and turned him back the other way. They aren’t welcome in WC and we plan to keep it that way even if the city council are a bunch of sissies about them.

concord ygnacio August 15, 2018 at 5:30 PM

Unfortunately, you are wrong. There are plenty at the Trinity Center, library, and armory. You just can’t see them.

WC Resident August 15, 2018 at 5:54 PM

During the day many of the homeless find nice air conditioned spots where they charge up their phones. That’s probably why you did not see them.

You missed several encampments in the area you described. I would suggest you walk around more on the eastern edge, Pine Creek, and to follow the trail that runs under the power lines plus Diablo Shadows Park. Notice that when the power lines hit west side of Boundary Oak Golf Course that there’s a neat hole in the fence. That hole is not for the turkeys. On the east side of the golf course is a similar hole. I think that one is for turkeys as I see them go in/out all the time that way.

Another WC Resident August 15, 2018 at 10:04 PM

I literally saw 4 homeless people while running errands today. 2 on Mt. Diablo, 1 on California, and the worst – a haggardly woman pushing a cart FULL of junk UP Alpine Rd. That’s one steep hill, too.

Silva August 16, 2018 at 8:56 AM

Check out the creeks. Carefully. If you visit T.J.’s, their parking lot abuts the actual Walnut Creek. One thing we all share a need for is ready access to water.

Kinsey Leakey August 15, 2018 at 6:18 PM

Ok we just drove over to Diablo Shadows Park.. No homeless anywhere to be seen. Drove up to Boundry Oaks, none to be seen, even asked some golfers if they saw any as they made their rounds…nope.
If they are in hiding fine, but when they come out we don’t see them walking the streets pushing baskets around here at any time day or night.
As long as we don’t see em loitering all over and panhandling then as far as we are concerned they ain’t a problem in our area.
I’ve yet to see them in Broadway shopping area either.
So we looked hard enough today cause we were bored and thought hey let’s go take a head count. Maybe we needed to yell come out come out wherever you are!
So as far as we are concerned Arbolado Drive area is still a fine area to live in, the homeless obviously are kept away either by the cops or the paintball group……lol

LeeRoy August 15, 2018 at 7:40 PM

At any time there are about a half dozen low profile homeless living in the shadows between John Muir Hospital and Oak Grove Rd in Walnut Creek. They are folks who have some type of income and typically aren’t addicts. They just can’t function under the rules of our society so they eek out an existence their own way.

That number fluctuates up and down periodically as folks rebuild bridges with loved ones. I know this from experience working nights in that part of town. I even came across remnants of a camp a year ago under the bridge on Deerpark Dr.

Downtown WC has had a core homeless group for 20+ years and that group has grown due to the services Trinity Center provides. If you build it they will come. Go volunteer at Trinity. Their services attract folks who come in on BART every day from other parts of the county in addition to homeless who camp out around town.

Explore the creek areas all around downtown Walnut Creek. You’ll find camps. Just be careful. While most are harmless addicts and alcoholics there are some evil folks who blend in and hide out.

Broadway Plaza and Safeway deal with shoplifting by homeless all the time. Read up on Proposition 36 and you’ll see penalties don’t lead to those people getting locked up when caught.

If WCPD stopped him with a cart it was probably because they were enforcing the shopping cart law (look it up). They deal with homeless every day and don’t have the ability to “make them leave.”

Fritzhugh Ludlow August 15, 2018 at 7:07 PM

“The burden of poverty rests heavily upon the poor” so said the first Gov. Brown in 1960.

NinjaNurse August 15, 2018 at 8:23 PM

Not willing to change

Lena August 15, 2018 at 8:51 PM

Oh right! Be more like you. How ignorant of us not to see that. You, of course, don’t drink or take medication (drugs) now do you? And, of course, you would be willing ti change your narrow-minded view of what’s causing the problem, now wouldn’t you? I pray you are not really in the medical profession. If you are, would you let us know where you work? I’d like to avoid it.

ON DA August 17, 2018 at 1:57 AM

I have been to several counseling and rehab progams in my lifetime. Denial is number one on the list. DENIAL.
PEER PRESSURE of course can become a significant obstacle to overcome.

Therefore finding new friendships and supportive family members can be the deciding factor in addictive behavioral situations.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who are in need.

PO'd August 15, 2018 at 9:38 PM

We know most of the above causes apply here, but it seems once people go feral, they rarely come back. Dawg, above, made it back, but if he stayed out there longer,who knows? I would think it would be somewhat rare if a long term homeless case takes the program and trie to get better. Mental problems and illegal drug addiction do take an irreversible toll on their mind, and many cannot accept the help offered because of fear of “the Man”.

I had a 1st cousin who spent 45 years on the streets, and was an early(60s) meth burnout. Through the help of family, he was able to eventually(20+ years into it!) live in a small cabin,but eventually left because of expectations placed on him by mental professionals. You know: responsibility,cleanliness etc. He absolutely could not handle it, and went to the only refuge he would trust, and that is out and about. RIP.

It must bother mental health professionals when all the attempts to help them matters very little in the big picture. They seem to stay feral. The issue appears to have no solution.

Forsythe August 16, 2018 at 5:45 AM

Recommended reading:
Nowhere to Go: The Tragic Odyssey of the Homeless Mentally Ill

This older book (published in 1988), by Dr. Fuller Torry details the sorry development of the de-institutionalizing of the seriously mentally ill.

In a powerful, stinging expose, he spares no one. Civil-liberties lawyers who force the release of patients; an indifferent Reagan administration that hastened “deinstitutionalization” of patients;

State hospital officials, bypassed for federal funding, left the problem of aftercare to community mental-health centers. To this day, this can be likened to putting a bandaid on a broken leg.

All players in the system receive a sound drubbing. Torrey calls his former employer, the NIMH, a jungle of ineffectual programs.

One thing that comes through clearly is the incompetence of government, especially a corrupt federal government, in dealing with serious social problems.

Both the Democrats and Republicans are to blame. Millions of dollars are spent for programs pushed by special interests including academia, drug companies, social service agencies, and progressives with their own politically agendas, when the one thing the mentally ill need the most is stable housing.

By the time all the money is spent, very little actually helps to house the mentally ill. Given the worsening housing crisis, they are far greater risk than anyone else.

For those of you who think “it’s their own fault”, you are both clueless and heartless.

Rollo Tomasi August 16, 2018 at 4:31 PM

I’ve done an admittedly quick review of the comments already posted and I can’t seem to find anyone who claims that the truly mentally ill who are homeless are at fault for their station in life.

Christopher Pilla August 16, 2018 at 6:11 AM


Law Dog August 16, 2018 at 8:09 AM


Lou August 16, 2018 at 12:07 PM

“Any park ranger will tell you: don’t feed wildlife. The reason behind this is that they become dependent and will not forage for themselves any longer. A disturbing trend is affecting American wildlife. Animals that formerly were self-sufficient are now showing signs of belonging to the Democratic Party. They have apparently learned to just sit and wait for the government to step in and provide for their care and sustenance.” (The Unpopular Truth, March 14, 2012)

Paladin August 16, 2018 at 2:02 PM

In my working life I spent a lot of time dealing with people on the street (please note that I refuse to use the liberal tag line of “homeless” as it is a lame attempt at lionizing their self imposed condition). In my experience “bums” (my tag line for them) chose their living conditions because they refused to go by the simple rules that society places on all of us, the equally simple rules that shelters placed on them and consciously chose to “live out”, which was the term that they used to describe their living condition. With remarkably few exceptions the bums decided that it was better for the government (via my labors and yours) to take care of them than for them to put on their big boy pants, give their boot straps a firm tug and work as long and as hard as it takes to establish a standard of living that they desire. That is how grownups do things.

The Mamba August 16, 2018 at 4:11 PM

There was an article in the LA Times recently where they followed a couple that had been displaced when they shut down the Santa Ana encampment, the entitlement was incredible, every other quote was about how the government could be doing more. It’s not a good look.

The Mamba August 16, 2018 at 4:04 PM

Lack of personal responsibility.

Atticus Thraxx August 16, 2018 at 4:50 PM

There’s as wide a range of circumstances that cause houseless people and you guys keep fixating on the hardcore druggies/drunks/madness. There’s also tens of thousands (not an exaggeration) of homeless children in California. Kids living in cars, shelters, garages of family friends. and on and on. That’s something that anyone who calls their self human shouldn’t abide. But self involved narcissists, which we have no shortage of, including on this blog judging by the comments, will have you believe it’s some kind of liberal disease. Wishful and frankly, twisted thinking.

Pony August 16, 2018 at 6:32 PM

There are hundreds of reasons for being homeless. Every day I see a homeless person I think it could just as easily be me.

Kinsey Leakey August 16, 2018 at 7:52 PM

I found a homeless guy sitting in front of Dickey’s tonight. He came in as I was ordering and threw some pennies and nickles on the side counter for a bag of Cheetos.
Now I’m rarely one to even acknowledge a half meless person but tonight I thought what the hell. I was eating inside, was gonna take my leftovers home when he walked back in. I called him over and gave him my leftovers and he sat down and enjoyed.
So even hardcore SOB’s like myself on occasion can be a bit more relaxed..but it don’t happen often…

WC Resident August 17, 2018 at 12:33 AM

Thank you for sharing, both the story and food.

I took a bike ride and got some pictures of encampments and a guy sleeping. These were all in the triangle of land that’s between the Ygnacio canal trail, Ygnacio Valley Road, and the canal. It’s at the north end of Boundary Oak Golf course. There are quite a few quail in this area too.

I also took another look at Diablo Shadows Park. There’s not enough cover there for a full time encampment.

Silva August 17, 2018 at 7:58 AM

Good job, Kinsey Leakey.

Hope Johnson August 16, 2018 at 8:03 PM

I volunteered for several years at Project Homeless Connect in the mid-2000’s. Sometimes my job was to interview those homeless persons willing to tell their story. I met men who were alcoholics and men who self-medicated with alcohol due to a mental illness or to forget some incident in the past. There were women who had fled violent situations who hadn’t found work or a place to stay. There were young homosexual people whose parents had kicked them out of their homes after they came out as gay who didn’t know where to go. I met people with some mental illness that prevented them from telling an intelligible story. There were people who had been injured at work and were disabled whose time at a temp shelter was up and they were on a new waiting list for a place. There were people with unrealistic attitudes that didn’t want to start at a job like McDonald’s. There were people who thought they were going to be famous somehow and it didn’t happen or they couldn’t recognize they had failed to work at it. I met transgender women who were clean, well-dressed and highly educated who couldn’t get a job because of discrimination and were harassed or beaten in shelters. There were drug addicts. I met people who had lost their homes when the levees broke in Louisiana who had been relocated here by the government and then somewhat abandoned. There were veterans with severe PTSD.

Kirkwood August 17, 2018 at 3:31 PM

An interesting and informative post.

jjshawk August 17, 2018 at 12:30 AM

Mental illness, low self-esteem, and bad life-choices/ bad planning…..the list goes on and on. The substance abuse and addiction is the result of self-medication ( in many cases), so “one” can cope with adverse circumstances and/or one’s own perception of reality. Homelessness is one extreme version of “Rock-Bottom” where few people are able to correct course and recover.

Justyfiable Languor August 17, 2018 at 6:59 AM

It is so nice to see everyone sharing their stories and thoughts.

Homeless mom August 17, 2018 at 5:34 PM

coming from a personal experience I put my trust in my employer who rented a home for his employees but could not pay people on time for them to pay their rent and when it came to the PG&E it got shut off twice in one year the second time it got shut off there was one week left in the month of June the employer says the house is done leave refuses to turn on the PG&E and give sufficient notice for time stayed based on those who did pay rent paid the rent with no power my son could not be watched in the home as he’s been for me to go to work upon request of 30 days was denied 30-day stay with power when rightly but denied 30 days yeah but by law I should have had 60 days but because no lease and only a logbook I had nothing to stand with and so I didn’t get an eviction on my record I left the home because the owner knew what was going on yet nobody would help now I’m sure my story isn’t much different than a lot of others or maybe it is what I do know is you really don’t know what what the cause of homelessness is unless you ask the individuals on the streets not everybody has a cell phone or online access I know this though not everybody chooses to be homeless

Homeless mom August 18, 2018 at 1:27 PM

More housing for those who are from here with assistance in getting back into home of their own. After being homeless getting established again is difficult with lack of supportive assistance. With reasonable standards and a real list to follow . trump wants to house all but his own which the problem is here and becoming much more real for to many.shared housing would be a great idea so families can help eachother .make it possible to rent its unreal how much rent is . do for your peoplw and then deal with placing others . you have to start those here to take care of others too . yet just my opinion.

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