Friday, March 10, 2017

Above My Pay Grade

Like the Mona Lisa, 2-year-old Axel gazes to the left,
his thoughts a mystery.
This week we served dinner to two families at Home and Hope, the network of 30 Peninsula churches and synagogues that provide temporary shelter to people who have been displaced for reasons such as job loss, family breakup, and large rent increases.

I spoke to the Director about the drop-off in applications---usually the organization houses four families at a time, and there had been a long waiting list to get into the program. She said that, for the first time in memory, there is no one on the waiting list.

We have seen "good" declines before--a booming economy enables some homeless to find jobs and housing---but that doesn't seem broadly true based on personal observations. Some potential applicants may have finally given up on making ends meet---I mentioned visiting new two-bedroom apartments that are going for $4,600 per month---and have departed the Peninsula for economic reasons.

But the likeliest reason is that the step-up in immigration enforcement has caused the fearful to leave the area or remain in the shadows. In the circles that I frequent ICE is a dirty word, but if there's less homelessness on the Peninsula, is that so bad?

Potential clients may have moved to other regions, such as Central California, where it's much cheaper to provide housing, medical, and education services. The State of California may protest, but it could be saving money because of the movement of population. That question and its possible answers are above my pay grade, and for the nonce I will confine myself to making dinner, being an overnight monitor, and making light conversation.

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