No, Humboldt, you’re not imagining things. Roughly a year and half after the City of Eureka evicted a ton of homeless folks from the Palco Marsh, the City has come up with a great new plan to create up to 24 new homeless housing units – and they’re proposing to put these units a short stroll away from the area the homeless were evicted from.
Sure, the proposed camp – which you can read more about here – will feature some new amenities like refurbished construction trailers, better facilities and presumably some supervision.
But the proposal to house a small percentage of the area’s homeless back in the marsh area begs a question – just what in the hell is the City of Eureka doing about the homeless problem, anyway? It sure seems to THC like this new plan – cooked up between the City, PG&E, and the Betty Chinn Foundation – is merely bringing us full circle to where the homeless will once again be given permission to occupy publicly owned lands. To essentially the same place that, once again, the City expended a shit ton of time and money to get people out of.
So what gives? We’ve said before that Eureka’s eviction of the homeless in the Palco Marsh had very little to do with helping the homeless or protecting the community, and everything to do with the sweet, sweet cash that the City received to build the trail. Not to mention the money the City hopes will roll in from tourists who will use the trail.
It seems like the City proposing to move homeless back into these areas is an indication that, indeed, solving the issue for both the homeless and the greater community was not the driving force behind the marsh eviction.
And, judging from the eyeball test, the City’s efforts haven’t made any dent in the local homeless population. Take a look around Eureka, or all of Humboldt County, and see for yourself. Do you honestly believe there are less homeless? For the record, THC does not think that the annual pilgrimage of trimmers can account for the surge in numbers.
A reader suggested to us that there are more homeless in the area than this time last year, and we have to wonder – do housing facilities such as the Blue Angel Village or the proposed PG&E site do anything to reduce the homeless problem, or are they contributing to it?
We’ve long been fans of Betty Chinn’s work – at least someone is trying to do something quantifiable about the issue. But if the City continues supporting and creating opportunities for homeless to receive exceptional support and housing, is this solving the problem? Or has it gone from helping the community combat homelessness to enabling homelessness to expand?
THC would hazard a guess that we’re experiencing an influx. And since you asked, no, the proposed PG&E/Chinn site does not solve many of the problems that the community has had with . One might say it could even increase foot traffic that businesses and residents objected to in the past because the new site is even further from critical homeless services than the old encampment. Aside from moving the problem further away from the public view, it doesn’t accomplish many of the larger goals.
And that’s not good enough. We don’t want to keep sweeping problem under the rug – we want to actually make improvements. Seems like the City of Eureka is content to just keep passing the buck.
We hear the new trail is nice, though.