I doubt many of you are unfamiliar with the homeless problem sweeping across the West Side, primarily in Patterson. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please direct your attention to North Park. A whole community has seemed to gather there, feeling the area to be safe and secure.)
Since the police have successfully moved these members out of the oleanders and into the public eye, we finally have a grasp of how many there are that frequent our town.
I’ve heard many complaints by residents and authorities alike concerning the situation. The most heavily debated topic to date is the occupation of North Park, which is causing problems for local businesses and civic clubs.
The Lions Club, which built the structure used by the homeless as shelter, no longer wishes to hold their meetings in the area.
And I don’t blame them after what I’ve head the homeless have done to the tabletops.
McAuley Ford has also had enough, and I’m sure their customers have too.
I also heard from a disgruntled troop leader that a barbecue held for the scouts was interrupted as well. Many of the homeless have lined up after those waiting to eat, thinking the food was for them.
And although the public bathrooms at the park have been a point of contention throughout the years in the Recreation Department, the problem has only exceeded to the point where one can only look inside and marvel in disgust.
Citizens, I was gracious enough to go on a ride along with one of the deputies in town, and I must say they are doing everything they can to tackle the issue between regular dispatches.
They have not only boarded up the former hospital, added extra security, and cleaned up the oleanders, but have been able to get to know the biographies of some of the homeless. They know who is who based on the trail left behind or the items taken or rigged.
They have also spoke with the Patterson Recycling Center, urging them to stop taking stolen items, shopping carts or things that appear to be stolen. PRC has agreed to the prospects, which should slow down the homeless’ income.
The police have also spoke to St. Vincent de Paul, who is known for distributing clothes to the homeless. After the large display of clothes strew about town, the thrift store has agreed to only allow the homeless a change of clothes if they change in the store and discard their old clothes right then and there.
It would be unfair to say the police were standing idle to all this. In fact, from what I’ve witnessed, they want to help the homeless and not just relocate the problem to another area.
But in order to find more solutions, they are going to need our help. I’m asking the citizens to think long and hard about solutions that may help the town and that community simultaneously.
Serious inquiries may be written to the Patterson Irrigator as a letter-to-the-editor or called in to Deputy Noel Vento at Patterson Police Services.
Thank you, residents. I look forward to hearing your response.