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Archive for July 2013

Marin County’s Homeless Make Do

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Marin County | California

There are around 400 homeless people sleeping on the ground in Marin County.  Fifty-five emergency shelter beds are available. The people who lose out sleep where they can. Sometimes covered, sometimes not.

Homeless sleeper on the ground.When Kelso woke up I told him I had taken his picture. He said, “Use it. This is my life.”

In 2011,  Marin County officials rejected a grand jury’s recommendation for a permanent emergency shelter program. The reasoning was that the money would be better spent on permanent housing. Here it is 2013, and while some progress has been made on permanent housing, such as Homeward Bound’s Oma Village, people are still sleeping and dying on the county’s streets and hideaways.

Homeless sleeper

Marin County is well known for its natural beauty, liberal politics, and affluence. I just checked with Wikipedia, and there are 3,141 counties in the United States. Ours is 46th from the top when ranked on household income. There is real money here. It seems to me we can afford to do much more to help our homeless citizens.

What do you think? What would you do to reduce homelessness?

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Written by Ron Greene

July 30, 2013 at 9:04 am

To Die Needlessly on the Streets of Marin County

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Marin County | California

On Sunday, street chaplain Paul Gaffney led the 16th annual memorial for people who have died on the streets of Marin County. A group of about 50 met at San Rafael’s Albert Park and walked to the Church of Saint Raphael to hear the names of the dead solemnly read out.

Paul Gaffney leads homeless memorial

The number of people who have died on the streets since 1995 is something like 160. I wonder how many of these victims could have been saved if the good people of Marin had been willing to provide better shelters and permanent housing.

Advocates like the Ritter Center and Homeward Bound of Marin do a good job providing resources for low-income and homeless people but always seem to be fighting an uphill battle trying to convince community leaders, especially downtown business interests, that more is needed.

I’ve listened to endless discussions about how to get homeless persons off the streets and away from places where they sometimes offend the sensitivities of our more genteel Marin population, and for me, it all boils down to housing. Adequate housing and support services for all of Marin’s homeless would certainly be expensive, but would save money in the long run. And more important to me, supportive housing saves lives.

Downtown business interests in San Rafael complain that homeless people are scaring away customers, and therefore hurting profits. The loudest voices suggest that the solution is to throttle homeless services and make it uncomfortable for homeless people to hang out downtown. These voices don’t say so directly, at least publicly, but the message is clear: if programs like St. Vincent’s Dining Room, Mill Street Center, and the Ritter Center would just go away, the problem would be solved. This is a short-sighted, selfish solution at best.

I’m downtown often and I’ve never seen anything offensive or that would cause me to not return. I believe that any loss of  revenues there has nothing to do with homeless people, but to an inability to compete with nearby upscale shopping areas. To put it simply, the homeless are being scapegoated.

People will continue to die needlessly on the streets of Marin County until the public comes to expect that all citizens, no matter what their station in life, should have a safe place to live.

Paul Gaffney prepares readers

The Rev. Paul Gaffney reviews the names of the dead with memorial participants who will later read the names in the courtyard of the Church of Saint Raphael.

Kelso hands out flowers

Kelso P. Martinis hands out flowers to participants in the memorial service for homeless people who have died on the streets of Marin County.

Church gathering for the homeless memorial

Memorial participants in the courtyard of the Church of Saint Raphael listen to the names of the dead being read. Sunday, July 21, 2013.

Homeless women living in the weeds at the side of the road.

Mary shouldn’t have to be living in the weeds just a few feet from Andersen Drive in the heart of Marin County.

Paris Street Photography II

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Marin County | California

Here is the last batch of photographs I took in Paris while attending Peter Turnley’s May 2013 street photography workshop.

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I loved the activity on some of the smaller streets.

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And an abundance of small cars.

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With all the adult activities, there was still plenty of space for kids.

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Adult activities.

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How cool can you get?

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Once I thought I spotted Jean-Paul Sartre: My Woody Allen moment. 

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I want to be young again and standing on this bridge.

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With Rica, not Madam. 

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Carl Westergren insisted the devil made him do it. (While standing on Peter Turnley’s Paris balcony.)

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We took the metro.

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There’s lots of love in Paris.

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Unfortunately, there’s also lots of smoke.

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Not all Parisians enjoy having their pictures taken.

Written by Ron Greene

July 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm