My latest article with the California Globe is one I’ve been wanting to write for quite some time, as law enforcement, first responders and hospital staff are on the front lines of the homeless crisis.
For the past two years in my community advocacy work, I have attended countless meetings, gone to City Council, put pressure on elected officials, worked with law enforcement, business owners and residents, given dozens of interviews to the media, worked on legislation, donated to organizations who help the homeless and witnessed very similar incidents as featured in my article during my ride alongs with the police and fire departments. I talk to people in these fields weekly, who share what they are dealing with on a daily basis. And because their experiences are in direct conflict with what politicians are telling the public, as city employees, they would lose their careers if they went on record with their real names.
I understand that when you write a story featuring anonymous sources, you open yourself up for criticism that you and the people you have interviewed are lying, especially from those who don’t want to believe the information in the first place. Not only do I know my sources, they are incredibly distrustful of the media, as they have seen their colleagues screwed over by “reporters,” which is why I believe we are not seeing more interviews from people in these industries, and therefore not getting enough firsthand accounts of what is occurring with the transient community who are unwilling–or unable–to get off the street due to their drug addiction and/or mental illness.
Just hours after my article came out, a first responder contacted me and told me he had just been on a call where one transient stabbed another transient in the chest over a stolen bike; both were meth addicts. Two days after that, a Lyft driver contacted my editor and said he had a paramedic in Sacramento in his car who confirmed the stories in my article are exactly what he is experiencing. And early this morning, there was another arson fire near the freeway not far from the Sacramento Zoo, where transients have been deliberately setting fire to this area for the past few weeks.
Nobody wants to see people in the street–under any circumstances–but until we take a hard look at what the largest contributor is to this crisis, how will we know what will actually work? California has spent billions of dollars trying to solve homelessness, as a housing crisis being the main cause, and it has only increased with more people dying, more disease, more drugs, more crime, more businesses closing and more people fleeing this state, which means money is being recklessly spent on the wrong problem.
And when you want to know why it’s not working, or what the real solution is, make sure you are consistently addressing those questions to the elected officials who hold the purse strings and the power, instead of your neighbor who is doing everything they can to hold down a job or run a business and raise their family while paying taxes and wondering why their voice is consistency ignored or shamed when they dare to speak out.
My deepest gratitude to my sources who trusted me with their stories, and who are doing a job most of us have no desire to do.