Mailbag: Meeting demeaned the homeless

May 01, 2014

Re. "Plan for destitute draws crowd," April 25: Were I a stranger from, let's say Indiana, and wandered into that City Council meeting on housing the homeless, I would have expected the town's downtown to be a virtual slaughterhouse, a bloody abattoir. Rape and pugnacity would have been the ordinary course of events daily. And I would flee the premises.

I am not a stranger. I have lived in Laguna Beach since 1955. In the intervening half a century and then some, I have never been rudely or aggressively accosted by a panhandler. I have never seen a person urinating in public, downtown or elsewhere.

I'm not saying these events do not occur. Obviously they do. But not to the extent emphasized by those opposed to housing the homeless. That meeting featured exaggeration by those opposed. Exaggeration begets exaggeration. You tell a vile story, I will tell one even worse. Exaggeration is like rumor; it races halfway around the world before truth and facts get their shoes on.


At the meeting we all were told not to demonize the other side. We followed that wise advice. But nobody told us not to dehumanize the homeless. Dehumanizing became the order of the day. The homeless were turned into animals, not human beings.

I spent several years on the board of the Laguna Resource Center. I met with and worked with the homeless. I never saw the breed that was portrayed at the meeting.

I thought we are a community that practices compassion.

The homeless live dark and secluded lives. They sleep on benches, in bushes, under boardwalks. For years they were rousted out by the police, given a toe in the ribs, told to move on.

Today we should hold out a hand and say not move on but move in. What they would then have is what we take for granted: a bed, four walls and a roof.

Is that too much to ask?

Arnold Hano

Laguna Beach


Trust in Friendship Shelter's experience

I didn't get a chance to speak at the last City Council hearing regarding permanent supportive housing and neither did many who've been serving meals at the Alternative Sleeping Location.

For more than 20 years, the Friendship Shelter has done an outstanding job of supporting the homeless in our community with the excellent services it and the city provide. At the very least, we should give permanent supportive housing a fair chance because of Friendship Shelter's respected experience and compassionate help and understanding to those less fortunate.

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