A Hundred Bucks an Hour
A few weeks ago, our officers responded to a disturbance near a local convenience store to investigate a report that someone was pressuring shoppers to give money in the parking lot. When the officers arrived, they quickly located a transient travelling through town seeking money. This transient happily told our officers that this parking lot was a prime location, a place where he could make a hundred dollars an hour–simply by asking.
This may surprise you, but transients regularly tell our officers they can make, fifty, seventy-five, or even a hundred dollars an hour simply by standing around and asking.
Unfortunately, giving money to transients does not help our community. Transients use our generosity to buy drugs and alcohol; and once they are under the influence, they commit crimes that put a strain our community’s resources.
Based on what most Ukiahians tell me, I’d say that just about every single person in Ukiah is tired of seeing homeless people loitering in our parks, sleeping in business doorways, littering in our creeks and waterways, panhandling, and shoplifting. Most importantly, people are really tired of the thefts, public intoxication and violence that transients seem to be involved in regularly.
Here’s the dilemma: kind-hearted people who think they are helping by giving handouts to transients are, in reality, contributing to our community’s problems.
Experts tell us that there are hundreds of reasons people become homeless: mental health problems, job-loss, alcoholism, drug addiction and more. But one big reason these problems continue is that transients use our generous nature to support their destructive behaviors.
Now, if you’ve heard me talk about this before, you know I believe that being homeless is not a crime—not even close. In fact, I encourage you to help our homeless community members, especially during the Christmas season, but to be sure to do so in a way that doesn’t inadvertently increase crime. We need to do all we can to help those less fortunate than ourselves, but giving a handout in a parking lot isn’t helping; it’s contributing to our community’s problems.
If you’d really like to help, please consider donating time or money to some of the great organizations in our community that are working hard this holiday season, and throughout the year, to get people back on their feet. Let’s support our local volunteers who work tirelessly to put your money to good use—making our community a better, and safer, place.
One worthy organization that needs donations this time of year is the Ukiah Valley Christmas Effort. They provide toys and a nutritious holiday meal to needy families on Christmas Eve. You can send donations to the Ukiah Valley Christmas Effort at P.O. Box 801, Ukiah, CA 95482. Learn more through their Facebook page or by getting in touch with President Sheryl Graves at (707) 272-9627 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another great place to donate locally is the Ukiah Food Bank. In partnership with the Ukiah Daily Journal, our local food bank is in the midst of its annual fund drive to ensure the food bank has the resources it needs to deliver food to those who would otherwise go hungry in our community. By donating now, you help assure the food bank will be able to provide food throughout the year. Donations can be made by mailing or dropping off a check to the Ukiah Daily Journal Office at 617 S. State Street in Ukiah.
Finally, Plowshares offers two hot meals each day at 1346 South State Street in Ukiah, and they can always use your donations. Plowshares is also in the midst of their winter fundraising campaign. Contributions help provide meals at their South State Street location and via the Meals on Wheels program that delivers food to home-bound seniors in the Ukiah area. Learn more by calling 462-8582 or visiting www.plowsharesfeeds.org.
Please, if you’d like to give, give to these great organizations.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.