Letter: Antioch Homeless Having Negative Impact on A Street Corridor

By Sandra Kelly

95

The Antioch City Council’s ad hoc committee on homelessness recently sent out a Facebook invitation to those interested in this issue.

“The Task Force is charged with gathering public testimony from regional, county and city agencies, community based organizations, faith community, homeless advocates and the business community to understand the impact of encampments on the local community.”  I was puzzled reading this as nowhere in the invitation were Antioch residents invited.  I called Council Member Joy Motts for clarification, and she stated that the meetings were open to anyone and I could come if I wanted, however there was no meeting scheduled to listen to the testimony of housed residents of Antioch about the effect of the homeless epidemic on their lives.

In an effort to be heard by our elected officials, our Neighborhood Watch group met to discuss this issue, and forwarded our concerns to Ms. Motts.  This is not the first time I have written to council members about the issues facing those of us living in the A Street Corridor area, and though I don’t always agree with her, I would like to commend Ms. Motts for answering my emails.  I have also received responses from Council Member Lori Ogorchock and Mayor Sean Wright.

I have not heard back from emails sent to Council Members Lamar Thorpe and Monica Wilson.

I feel that it is important for our elected officials to hear about the impact of homelessness on residents not only in my small neighborhood, but throughout Antioch, about the challenges the ongoing influx of homelessness has brought to our lives.   I would like to use this forum to present my testimony publicly and invite others to comment and share their testimony.

What is life is like for those of us living in the A Street corridor, where well-meaning ministries encourage the homeless to congregate in our parks, on our waterfront, in our shopping centers, and along the nearby railroad tracks?

Basically, what used to be a nice walkable neighborhood has degenerated into a dangerous slum.

Estimates online vary, but it is generally accepted that somewhere between 25-50% of the homeless in California have addiction issues and somewhere between one in three and one in four homeless people suffer from mental illness.  Many of the homeless living in Antioch are so affected and behave in a manner that is frightening to residents who no longer feel safe leaving home.

The issue of public safety is particularly concerning at City Park, where on a daily basis large numbers of homeless people congregate.  This park is a disaster.  Everyone has a right to use a public park, however no one has the right to vandalize public bathrooms, deal drugs, sit atop the picnic tables so that nobody else can use them, and sleep on the tables and playground.  It is not a right to defecate in the park, let dogs run loose, and kill the trees.  There is garbage everywhere at City Park.  Some of the garbage is a result of people with a charitable bent leaving behind “gifts” for the homeless.   A public park where children play is not a place that should be serving as an open-air homeless shelter.

Homelessness also impacts goods and services available in our community.  My credit union on A Street left for Pittsburg after an increasing number of people complained about the area.  One of the banks here abandoned Antioch also.  Our local grocery store closed, the nearby bike shop left for Brentwood, and the flower shop on A Street was destroyed in a fire set by the homeless.  My local gym no longer allows day use of the pool due to the abuse of the day pass by homeless people.  Storefronts all along A Street are empty.

When I go into a store nearby or stop to pump gas, I am inevitably panhandled inside the store, in the parking lot, and at the pump and have to walk past a gauntlet of the homeless to get inside the shops.  This limits my desire to shop locally.   Much as I would like to support businesses that still survive here, I find myself taking my sales tax dollars to neighboring cities.

Our neighborhood has also seen an increase in crime and violence with the influx of homelessness.  Petty theft and auto burglary are rampant. Where the homeless with addiction issues hang out, drug dealers move in.  Our neighbors used to have an annual pot luck picnic in City Park.  We no longer do that since the last time we gathered together two homeless people in the park started fighting, assaulting each other with large sticks.

It is important that as our city moves forward, whatever concessions are made and money spent on the homeless, that it does not further destroy the quality of life for housed residents here.

Putting even more facilities to draw the homeless to residential areas and business centers is a mistake, for example the county’s decision to use our local library on 18th street as a homeless shelter.  At no point did the county inform or reach out to local residents about this.  If only our city and county officials realized the impact of their actions on our lives!

As I have already exceeded the editor’s word count.  I leave it up to you now.  Share your testimony here in the hope we can understand the impact that the homeless explosion has had on all of us who live in Antioch.

What do you have to say?

Sandra Kelly
Antioch, CA

 


95 COMMENTS

  1. I was at every task force meeting and the general public spoke their minds, please believe me. They asked questions, they commented about the good and the bad that they have experienced regarding homelessness. During these meetings we heard about how the homeless have made life difficult for businesses and residents. People have some type of idea that advocates and people who serve the homeless are naive. We know there are some who have problems with drugs and alcohol, that have mental illness, but we also are aware that we have over 300 kids who are homeless. We have families living in cars. We want to help those who want to help themselves get off of the streets.
    We also believe that drug addicts, alcoholics and people with mental illness still need a roof over their heads. We know that there are plenty of folks with homes who are drug addicts, alcoholics and have mental illness also. Them being in a house does not make them any better. 0
    People also fail to realize because they make assumptions, that most of antioch’s homeless are from Antioch. I personally did a poll asking 70 people where they were from and 63 set from Antioch. The director of homeless services also has said the majority of Antioch’s homeless are from Antioch. So they are our residents.

    Is this article based on facts? As I don’t know one well-meaning Ministry who encourages them being in our parks, waterfront, and shopping centers. I know some along with advocates who say that if you don’t have a safe place for them to be then where do you expect them to go, because when they are hiding in the bushes by the tracks, where no one could even see them, trying to stay out of the public view, they get found and asked to move. So, Antioch’s homeless residents don’t have a homeless shelter, some people don’t want one, but also don’t want them on our public streets. Make sense to you oh, because I’m confused?

    Some complain about the homeless encampment task force meetings instead of acknowledging and giving the Task Force credit for putting them together to get the community together to figure out ways to deal with this crisis and the problems you’ve bought up in this article. Why is eastcountytoday.net so negative towards homelessness? Where are your ideas? I see what your complaints are. Where are your ideas on how to deal with this crisis? We know the good, bad, and ugly already. What are your ideas to humanely deal with this problem?

    Why doesn’t eastcountytoday.net make articles to talk about the positive that the homeless are doing the community such as helping me put up and clean up my picnic for the homeless at the city park, how they help setup and cleanup the areas on the property downtown where the churches serve them on weekends, and how they help with our homeless garbage cleanups where at one time we got 3 dumpster loads full of garbage by the tracks due to the homeless having no dumpsters in that area to dump their garbage.

    I just had my first annual fun-in-the-sun picnic at city park a couple weeks ago and not only was the park clean the two times I went to scope it out before my event but it was completely clean the day of my event and the homeless in the area help us set up and clean up and we took pictures at the end just in case anyone said we made a mess and there was not a single piece of garbage left. Can you give us a better understanding of what charitable groups consistently go to that park to serve the homeless because I am unaware of any. Is this an assumption?

    The local library which is a city building uses a small room as a warming and cooling center, not a shelter, for them when the weather is considered an emergency such as freezing weather and 105 degrees outside. Anyone who doesn’t find that to be the humane thing to do when it comes to helping our homeless community I find uncompassionate.

    • Just because they say they are from ANTIOCH doesn’t mean they are! It seems that Antioch and Pittsburg … and to some extent, Concord, have become the DUMPING GROUND for the homeless!

      In which city they have been dumped in, they will say that are from there. I too have spoken with some in a way that they did not put up resistance and most of them are from OTHER STATES .. dumped here via the well-known “BUS THERAPY.”

      I know many people in Antioch because I’ve lived here since the 1960’a and I also know people who are familiar with many individuals who live here and they say they DO NOT recognize those being dumped here claiming they are Antioch residents of long standing!

      • Did the guy, who said he interviewed a bunch of the homeless who told him they are from Antioch, ask them where EXACTLY they lived in Antioch? Which house or apartment complex? I bet he didn’t. He would make a very poor detective!

      • Your absolutely right. I also had been in Antioch since the 1960’s. And also know quite a few people by face. The majority of Antioch’s Homeless aren’t any faces I’ve ever seen here before. They aren’t local. They are coming into Antioch as homeless already. Not living and working here then becoming homeless for whatever reason. And for the love of God Can we enforce the Panhandling Laws? Cant Go Anywhere in Antioch with out a Panhandler accosting me.
        The majority of which Aren’t even Homeless their just disgustingly lazy and shiftless people that feel the world owes them something for nothing.

        • You’re right, Donna! If you get into a conversation with them and they seem lucid, you can find out exactly from where they hail and who sent them here. Lots of people from Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, South Dakota, etc. It’s all in how you ask the question.

      • Born in Martinez.
        Raised in Antioch, AHS graduate.
        Went to school with all of the same kids.
        Lived there until 2009.
        Brown Hair.
        Female.
        Do you know me?

    • Thank you! I find your response/reply to this asinine letter to be on point and the content to be more factually based than the letter writer’s article. I don’t know about you or other Antioch residents who actually want to see this issue improve and change into something positive for everyone, but as for me, I am so sick of hearing and reading about people whining instead of helping find a solution. And for those who are out taking pictures of the homeless without their permission (to falsely frame them for something they’re not involved in?), STOP! Homelessness does not mean that you can violate their rights! People don’t choose to have mental health issues either. It’s an illness just as much as cancer is. Pray that this doesn’t happen to you or people you love and care about.

      • So, it’s OK with if the homeless violate OUR rights? Is that it? Right now, I just passed an encampment along the RR tracks off A Street where they started a fire! This probably caused some fences to catch on fire!

        People have come up with viable solutions and those need to be implemented. Our rights outweigh their “rights” to defecate on our sidewalks and burn down the cities. San Francisco’s solutions seem to be working. They can also work in the east bay.

      • People take my picture all the time without my permission when I’m out shopping! They tell me I look like a young Jane Fonda, which irks me like nothing else can!

  2. Absolutely no investment in Antioch neighborhoods and as a result our property values, safety, neighborhood pride, etc greatly suffer. Shame on our leadership.

  3. We have failed as a society to provide adequate care for the mentally ill. Letting the mentally ill live on the street is cruel. All of the efforts by well meaning citizens to provide food and clothing to the mentall ill, while well meaning, would be better spent pressuring our elected officials to change the laws. Only when we abandon the notion that only the mentally ill who are a danger to themselves or a danger to others are placed in state converatorship will we begin to address the issue of homelessness.

    • San Francisco now figured out how to start getting rid of their homeless which have left that city a total toilet. Their program is called HOMEWARD BOUND! This involves purchasing bus tickets for the vagrants once it’s established which state they came from. They are sent back home to be taken care of by their relatives and/or counties or cities. It’s been working out quite well now.

  4. The city has ignored this area for over 20 years. Way over! Thank you for your letter Sandra. You have always been a voice worth listening to.

  5. I was at every task force meeting and the general public spoke their minds, please believe me. They asked questions, they commented about the good and the bad that they have experienced regarding homelessness. During these meetings we heard about how the homeless have made life difficult for businesses and residents. People have some type of idea that advocates and people who serve the homeless are naive. We know there are some who have problems with drugs and alcohol, that have mental illness, but we also are aware that we have over 300 kids who are homeless. We have families living in cars. We want to help those who want to help themselves get off of the streets.

    We also believe that drug addicts, alcoholics and people with mental illness still need a roof over their heads. We know that there are plenty of folks with homes who are drug addicts, alcoholics and have mental illness also. Them being in a house does not make them any better.

    People also fail to realize because they make assumptions, that most of antioch’s homeless are from Antioch. I personally did a poll asking 70 people where they were from and 63 set from Antioch. The director of homeless services also has said the majority of Antioch’s homeless are from Antioch. So they are our residents.

    Is this article based on facts? As I don’t know one well-meaning Ministry who encourages them being in our parks, waterfront, and shopping centers. I know some along with advocates who say that if you don’t have a safe place for them to be then where do you expect them to go, because when they are hiding in the bushes by the tracks, where no one could even see them, trying to stay out of the public view, they get found and asked to move. So, Antioch’s homeless residents don’t have a homeless shelter, some people don’t want one, but also don’t want them on our public streets. Make sense to you oh, because I’m confused?

    Some complain about the homeless encampment task force meetings instead of acknowledging and giving the Task Force credit for putting them together to get the community together to figure out ways to deal with this crisis and the problems you’ve bought up in this article. Why is eastcountytoday.net so negative towards homelessness? Where are your ideas? I see what your complaints are. Where are your ideas on how to deal with this crisis? We know the good, bad, and ugly already. What are your ideas to humanely deal with this problem?

    Why doesn’t eastcountytoday.net make articles to talk about the positive that the homeless are doing the community such as helping me put up and clean up my picnic for the homeless at the city park, how they help setup and cleanup the areas on the property downtown where the churches serve them on weekends, and how they help with our homeless garbage cleanups where at one time we got 3 dumpster loads full of garbage by the tracks due to the homeless having no dumpsters in that area to dump their garbage.

    I just had my first annual fun-in-the-sun picnic at city park a couple weeks ago and not only was the park clean the two times I went to scope it out before my event but it was completely clean the day of my event and the homeless in the area help us set up and clean up and we took pictures at the end just in case anyone said we made a mess and there was not a single piece of garbage left. Can you give us a better understanding of what charitable groups consistently go to that park to serve the homeless because I am unaware of any. Is this an assumption?

    The local library which is a city building uses a small room as a warming and cooling center, not a shelter, for them when the weather is considered an emergency such as freezing weather and 105 degrees outside. Anyone who doesn’t find that to be the humane thing to do when it comes to helping our homeless community I find uncompassionate.

    • Why put up the same information twice? Maybe as part of an advocate for these people, you might encourage them to return to their homes in their home states and let their relatives help take care of their needs. The churches here are doing the homeless more harms than good.

      People are really getting angry and frustrated with the fires these people are starting (at least two a week) and being unable to take a normal, evening or daytime walk, without being accosted. From what I see, this anger is mounting and mounting. This might end up like it did in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) where people got fed up with homeless teens attacking pedestrians ……. and took drastic measures. We don’t want that to happen here, but it’s brewing!

      Driving with my daughter from A Street where it changes to Lone Tree Way, while stopping at a traffic light, we were greeted by a man, on the sidewalk, dropping his pants and defecating right there for all to see!

      We can’t even take our pets to the veterinarian on A Street because of human feces piled close to their facilities close to the railroad tracks.

      Very soon, just like in Los Angeles, we will be hit with a typhus epidemic or worse.

    • The homeless have been fed on a regular basis over the years at city park. Breakfast of sorts is what I witnessed. Supposedly they clamped down on this.

    • Your comment shows that you have obviously done your homework on the issue, and that you are well versed on the facts. Your effort to work toward a solution is one that should be applauded and looked to as a way others can contribute. God bless you for your unselfish and courageous effort to right a wrong in our community in the face of negative forces who can only complain and point fingers. The leadership you demonstrate is exactly where the solution for this important issue lies. Thank you.

  6. I’ve lived in Antioch my whole life. It was a blue collar mill town where kids and elderly people played and walked where we needed to go. Today is very different. Since the super churches started feeding the homeless and opened “addiction” facilities we have had more than our share of homeless problems. My feeling is if they are drawing them here then they should be responsible for them 24/7. They are getting huge taxpayer $$ and only providing the minimum. Taxpayers are paying twice and that’s not fair

  7. East County has one Shelter for mental health folks, that is not enough! To much emphasis on newer areas of Antioch not enough on original Antioch and the waterfront. To much money spent on city council including hiring a consultant anyone with eyes can see what needs to be done! I live close to A Street and agree it is not a pretty sight!

  8. The homeless. In reality, nobody has an effective solution. If they did, there wouldn’t be a homeless crisis throughout the world.

    • I didn’t see much homelessness in Europe or Asia. People take care of their own and there are anti-vagrancy laws which are strictly enforced.

      • You’re absolutely clueless. You’ve obviously never been to Athens, Greece, Budapest Hungary or Moscow, Russia – which happen to be three cities in the world that fall into the top fifteen cities with the WORST homeless population in the WORLD. The worst city is Manila, Philippines. About half of the top fifteen are in the US. So, yes, it’s WORLDWIDE PROBLEM. You probably weren’t in Europe or Asia long enough to see it. Were you vacationing there? Educate yourself before you spout off.

        • Nick! You amaze me! I haven’t been to Moscow (Russia)? That’s a good trick considering that I was born there… speak, read and write the language fluently. Lived in St. Petersburg for 4 years (when it was still Leningrad, but not for long), spent a lot of time in Budapest (my mother is Hungarian, father is Russian), lived for three years in Switzerland. Worked in Asia (China, Singapore, Japan). I guess I do lack education! Pity me! Maybe I should give back my PhD in International Relations back to Stanford!

          By the way, if you were vacationing in Moscow, let me know how you observe the “militsia” treated anyone that even resembled someone “homeless.” Let me know how many times Russians referred to you as “Odin Americanskiy DURAK!”

          • You got him, Rox! It’s Roxanne 1 .. Nick 0. Let’s see him dig himself out of this one. Homeless in the cities he mentions are dealt with appropriately. Most do return to be helped out by their relatives, except probably in India . . with the caste system.

          • Nick is CORRECT. 50% of the population roams the streets of Athens, Greece. Unemployment rates are 27%. 60% of Budapest, Hungary homeless population roam the streets, and can be charged, including facing jail time. 3.4% of the population in Russia is homeless. 1.5 – 3 million people. Homelessness in this country has been the norm since World War II.

            Google it. Stats don’t lie. .05 percent of the US population is homeless. That’s NOTHING compared to poorer countries. Why does the US have a lesser percentage of homelessness than other countries? Because American is a WEALTHY country, and most countries aren’t. 1/2 percent of homelessness is nothing compared to poorer countries. It just seems so large (and it is) because we live in a very large country.

          • Roxanne, you’re illogical. You had a stupid idea for bank robbers (dropping them through the floor instead of getting them the hell out of the bank – for the safety of employees and customers) and you’re showing your stupidity again. Facts are facts, and once again – you’re clueless.

        • She got you, Nick! There’s no way you can dig yourself out of that one, try as you may! Unlike you, I’m sure she didn’t have to use a search engine because she lived it. You probably watched the PBS shows on foreign travel.

          European countries have very strict anti-vagrancy laws and they also enforce them.

          • Hey Melanie! You ever hear the phrase, “There are lies and more lies … and then there are STATISTICS!” That the first thing our prof said at the beginning of our Introduction To Statistics class!

            How many times have you been to Russia, Melanie? It might be advantageous for you to make a trip there and stay like for 6 month and observe! You probably never set foot in Greece, either.

            We gave an extremely serious problem with the homeless population here and people have come up with solution after solution. San Francisco now has one which was actually brought up on THIS website. Their program is called HOMEWORD BOUND and it was discussed fully on the KGO radio show at 11:00 am. There will be a podcast of it available later on, if you care to listen.

          • “HOMELESSNESS AND HOUSING PROBLEMS REACH CRISIS POINT IN ALL EU COUNTRIES, EXCEPT FINLAND”

            “A European housing body has warned that homelessness has reached crisis point in the majority of countries in Europe. The report says homelessness is rising in all European countries except Finland, and singles out cities such as London, Paris, Brussles, Dublin, Vienna, Athens, Warsaw and Barcelona as places particularly under strain. In London, the number of families has increased 50% since 2010, and in Copenhagen, youth homeless has increased by 75% since 2009. Warsaw saw an increase of 37% of people sleeping rough since 2013, and one in 70 people in Athens are now homeless, most have become so since 2011.”

            I LIVED IN EUROPE FROM 1998 – 2012. Fourteen years (business related) plus time in the military. I have A LOT of European experience, and have seen the European homeless crisis myself. I also traveled to Europe as a kid, and traveled their on vacation as an adult. Having lived there, we no longer have the desire to travel in Europe. I’ve seen enough.

            Most of you have probably never even been to Europe, and you have no idea what you’re talking about. Homeless always has, and always will be a problem THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.

      • Roxanne, I work in the tech industry, know a lot of Indians and have been to Indian numerous times spending many months there observing. Very few homeless in their cities. They take care of their own and also their parents are not put into nursing homes to die. Older people and those who fell on bad time, are taken care of by relatives and family members. You got it right.

        • Someone should tell MELANIE that she’s dead wrong. Stop using GOOGLE, Melanie, and use DuckDuckGo or BING or StartPage for your research. Google gets a lot of things wrong and even one of the founders of Google, Sergei Brin, said so himself. I’ve also noticed quite a few mistakes and disinformation on Wikipedia.

          I’ve lived in German (native), France and Italy and spent a lot of time in India where I observed the social structure. They still have a very strong caste system which has existed for centuries! But very gradually that too is changing. Indians have a very strong family/relative structure and don’t abandon their less-fortunate brethren like we do in this country. Maybe we can learn from them.

  9. Right on Sandy! I’ve been thinking the same thing for ages! It’s an orchestrated effort to ruin my hanonome…

  10. I would not be surprised if Sandra Kelly’s concerns and opinion were not shared by most of Antioch’s housed residents. I also think that Sandra Kelly is just as much to blame for her problems as the homeless are.

    Antioch has experienced many changes in the last decade or three. None of these changes were unforetold or happened unexpectedly. These changes have been gradual and in some cases were preplanned. The problems that have arisen from these changes have been equally predictable and expected. Most of these problems have no easy solution and blame cannot be directed to one singular cause, but they are issues that we should have been working on long ago before they became so prominent.

    Sandra Kelly’s concerns are directed to an area of great importance that must be managed or much bigger problems will eventually arise. However, her concerns are rather weak and in my opinion short sighted. An increase in crime can be expected in any area where the demographics are changing to contain more low income residents. Loss of business services is a high level management issue, period. Nobody is claiming that the homeless are responsible for running Orchard Supply Hardware or Ma and Pa’s Grocery Boutique out of town. These store closures are a result of changes that the stores could not overcome, and where the city was unable to help the stores overcome. Management issues.

    Our police should have been prepared for the homeless issue better than they obviously have been. Their current strategy, or lack thereof, serves neither government, nor the residents as far as a solution. Our city leaders should have been on this long ago. This is a management issue, and only proper management is going to provide any worthwhile solution.

    It is the perspective that Sandra Kelly has that is most detrimental to our city. One where the loudest cry out is a cry out in fear. A cry out that lacks an open perspective, compassion, or responsibility. Sandra could not list one area where she was actually harmed or suffered a direct loss. Yes, her concerns all contribute to a lower quality of life, but that quality is one that we are all experiencing. For the homeless the suffering has been more than just fear. Blight and uneasiness have a much lower impact on one’s life than loss of employment, drug addiction, or inability to obtain housing. I see a city that lacks compassion and who have drawn simple conclusions. Like the attitude that the homeless are all drug addicts that have made their choice between being housed and off drugs, or continuing their addiction homeless. These conclusions are not supported by any study or by the state or federal governments who are looking deeply into the matter. The attitude of the “people affected by homelessness” should be one of asking themselves what they can do to help towards a solution. We a community. We are all sharing this planet with others who are like us. We should be supporting each other with compassionate earnestness. Not drawing lines, or making demands. The fear is a big problem. If Sandra is so frightened of those homeless people that might have a different color skin or who are addicted to a drug, then she should go give them a sandwich and get to know them. She may find that they are good hardworking people who have not been able to overcome the challenges they are experiencing that are often due to the same forces that are responsible for our success. We as a community need to take responsibility for the problems within our community together. So that we can come up with solutions together. So that we can live happily together.

    • Well said Michael. On top of the homeless, the entire city staff and councils have ignore A Street and E 18th for more than a decade. It looks like a third world country all the way to Cavallo.

      • Oh yes, Michael — Sandra Kelly put those homeless on buses and forced them to head for California and Antioch.

  11. I would not be surprised if Sandra Kelly’s concerns and opinion were not shared by most of Antioch’s housed residents. I also think that Sandra Kelly is just as much to blame for her problems as the homeless are.

    Antioch has experienced many changes in the last decade or three. None of these changes were unforetold or happened unexpectedly. These changes have been gradual and in some cases were preplanned. The problems that have arisen from these changes have been equally predictable and expected. Most of these problems have no easy solution and blame cannot be directed to one singular cause, but they are issues that we should have been working on long ago before they became so prominent.

    Sandra Kelly’s concerns are directed to an area of great importance that must be managed or much bigger problems will eventually arise. However, her concerns are rather weak and in my opinion short sighted. An increase in crime can be expected in any area where the demographics are changing to contain more low income residents. Loss of business services is a high level management issue, period. Nobody is claiming that the homeless are responsible for running Orchard Supply Hardware or Ma and Pa’s Grocery Boutique out of town. These store closures are a result of changes that the stores could not overcome, and where the city was unable to help the stores overcome. Management issues.

    Our police should have been prepared for the homeless issue better than they obviously have been. Their current strategy, or lack thereof, serves neither government, nor the residents as far as a solution. Our city leaders should have been on this long ago. This is a management issue, and only proper management is going to provide any worthwhile solution.

    It is the perspective that Sandra Kelly has that is most detrimental to our city. One where the loudest cry out is a cry out in fear. A cry out that lacks an open perspective, compassion, or responsibility. Sandra could not list one area where she was actually harmed or suffered a direct loss. Yes, her concerns all contribute to a lower quality of life, but that quality is one that we are all experiencing. For the homeless the suffering has been more than just fear. Blight and uneasiness have a much lower impact on one’s life than loss of employment, drug addiction, or inability to obtain housing. I see a city that lacks compassion and who have drawn simple conclusions. Like the attitude that the homeless are all drug addicts that have made their choice between being housed and off drugs, or continuing their addiction homeless. These conclusions are not supported by any study or by the state or federal governments who are looking deeply into the matter. The attitude of the “people affected by homelessness” should be one of asking themselves what they can do to help towards a solution. We a community. We are all sharing this planet with others who are like us. We should be supporting each other with compassionate earnestness. Not drawing lines, or making demands. The fear is a big problem. If Sandra is so frightened of those homeless people that might have a different color skin or who are addicted to a drug, then she should go give them a sandwich and get to know them. She may find that they are good hardworking people who have not been able to overcome the challenges they are experiencing that are often due to the same forces that are responsible for our success. We as a community need to take responsibility for the problems within our community together. So that we can come up with solutions together. So that we can live happily together.

    • Fear has nothing to do with this!

      Many people have offered solutions on here which work! As for the past, the people elected to the city council have all been FAILURES! That should have been noted long ago and they should have been thrown out! Why were they continuously reelected?

      One of the problems with this area is LOSS OF JOBS and outfits like AMAZON are partially to blame! They have caused retail store to shut down and their employees let go with nowhere else to turn.

      Most of the homeless here are from other states, dumped here because their home states refused to deal with the problem so, as one relative told me, “It’s now CALIFORNIA’S problem, Heh heh!”

      Giving them a sandwich is the last thing one should do. Giving them a ride to the cities in the Central Valley and beyond the CA border might be the way.

  12. Start enforcing the laws that are on the books. I drive the A street corridor every day, and I’m sick of seeing what I see on a daily basis. I can’t walk to the water front anymore for fear of being assaulted, or yelled at by someone who Is mentally ill. I voted for some of the people in office, and I have no problem voting them out.

  13. I am glad someone finally had the guts to write what we all have been saying and seeing for years when it comes to the City of Antioch. From showers to toilets to food, the City of Antioch has embraced homeless and you wonder why more and more continue to show up. Ron Bernal should have been fired for bringing the showers to the downtown area. Now we have a sympathetic council who should be voted out come 2020 for their ignorance to this issue. You dont solve this problem by creating solutions that will bring EVEN MORE to Antioch. Thank you Sandra for this letter. More people share this opinion than will speak up against for fear of being called named or alienated.

      • Hey Kitterman! It seems that you are the one who hasn’t done his research! Maybe you should start by inviting every homeless person you see to come live with you. That would be your solution so you’re welcome to it.

  14. The homeless are everywhere, but if you want to avoid homelessness on a larger scale, you have to live in a much nicer city than Antioch. Deal with reality. If you choose to live in a city like Antioch, which has been a lower class town since the 60s, there are consequences. If you can afford a nicer city – move. If you moved to Antioch for more “bang for your buck” – there you have it.

    • Why aren’t there homeless in cities with the more affluent population? You would think that’s where they would head because they might get better food and other amenities from the many bleeding hearts living there.

      • The poorer the country or city, the higher the homeless population. In larger cities, the homeless can be from anywhere. In the suburbs, most of them are local. Also, in an affluent suburbs, they’ll run you out of town. Affluent cities don’t have people in need like other cities, so there aren’t “programs” attracting the homeless. The homeless are everywhere, but if you want to really stay clear, don’t live in a larger city or a poorer one. Antioch is a poorer city.

    • Many here don’t live in Antioch, but we own property here and expect that it will rise in value which isn’t happening with the homeless population increasing and most of the city turning into a slum.

  15. I understand your point and I agree I just wonder if you were homeless and I wish you were for just a month and living on the streets would you still feel the same way with your stuck up opinion

  16. We have to be careful here… Antioch could be the next City of Bell… Someone said $125,000 can buy a lot of one way bus tickets and pass the homeless to the next unsuspecting city out of state… Hospitals have been known to do this for the indigent who were treated and released… It is going to take more than an overpriced city council and disparaging public remarks to address these social ills… We all agree that homelessness leads to crime which leads to higher taxes and lower property values, blight, etc… There are plenty of store properties around Antioch that have been vacant for a long time.. How about finding a way to open those vacant buildings, like the old Food Max on Somersville… provide a protected shelter and programs to help the homeless that want to improve their situation… But, let it be known that, according to an investigative journalist who worked for the Daily Ledger on this issue 30 years ago, mentioned there are many who just want to be left alone … It is their right to refuse help too.. What happens then?

    • Their “right” to continue living on the streets? Defecating and urinating where they please? Starting fires if they feel like it to get even with “the man?” This is the reason we must have anti-vagrancy laws like other countries do.

      As to putting them on buses, those would take them to the states which put them on buses to head for California.

      • A LOT of cities in California have anti-homeless laws. It doesn’t do any good. Do you really think the homeless care about breaking the law? They’re arrested all the time, depending on the city. Making something against the law doesn’t STOP THE BEHAVIOR. If so, there wouldn’t be so many people in jails and prisons. WISE UP!

  17. Its like feeding feral cats, they will keep coming back if they know they can get something.

    Unfortunately there is not care for the mentally ill anymore. This leaves the majority with no other option than to live on the street and mess with people.

    • I much prefer “feral” cats to the homeless humans! Unlike the homeless, feral cats don’t start fires and they bury their waste!

  18. Increasing production and shipment of fentanyl will make a huge, huge difference in what is coming for those people who are addicted. The projected effects are estimated to be comparable to an event like the bubonic plague, and the strength of the product means that there will be no more playing whac-a-mole with narcan. People whose addictions are not addressed won’t be getting a second chance. This is well on its way, not a rumor, not a fiction.

  19. Thank you to Sandra Kelly as well as ECT. for attempting to give the tax paying residents of this city a voice. While I do not have any surveys or statistics to offer I do have life experience in regards to this issue. As a former first responder as well as a resident of this city for over 10 yrs I have seen this problem continue to get worse even as the economy improves. The past 4 years have been especially bad in my neighborhood as the homeless continue to set up camp in the ravine area behind my property. Multiple fires started @ these camps have come close to burning down homes on many occasions. In fact there was a fire behind my property just last Saturday. In addition to fires and smoke these camps continue to desturb the peace @ all hours of the night. The frustration among area residents is definitely brewing. When we call the city’s non emergency line we are greeted by a rude & unprofessional dispatcher. If we report issues on the city’s see click fix app. we are ignored and the problem only increases. This problem is only exasperated by a lack of enforcement by the city. The vast majority of these homeless people no matter what race, gender, age, or anything else have MH issues due to substance abuse. In my estimation this is a drug problem more then a housing problem. Many working people who can no longer afford the high cost & taxes in CA. simply leave the state. While working folks are leaving the good weather lack of enforcement, as well as free handouts are attracting more homeless people to this area. While I too feel badly for these people there must be consequences for their actions.

  20. Melanie <~~~ NOT the sharpest tool in the shed! Also, doesn't have both oars in the water and her columns don't add up.

    I seriously doubt you'd been to Russia long enough to really ascertain the situation. Being on a bus with tourists doesn't cut it. You have to take off on your own, know the language, know how to read signs, skip the museums . . . and talk to the people.

    All major cities and even smaller ones have anti-vagrancy laws which the police enforce. Alcoholism is the problem but things are changing now. People take care of their own and don't put them out on the streets because they know how the police would treat them and there is no such thing as a "kid glove" treatment anywhere in Russia.

    • Grisha – You’re stupid. Russia is an extremely poor county, and the alcoholism rate is very high. Melanie is CORRECT. I lived in Russian (on business) and everything she said, as well as what I said is correct. You don’t want to believe it because you’re ignorant. The poorer the country, the higher the homeless rate. Melanie and I are highly educated, and don’t fit in with this uneducated crowd.

      • Suddenly, you lived in Russia? A total lie! You know nothing about Russia because you’ve never set foot in Russia, so stop lying already!

        If you had even taken a one week tour, you would see that Russia now has a nice middle class and the malls (the largest in the world) are packed every day. All the top American and European companies have stores there. There is some poverty, but in very remote areas and even that is changing.

        Even going into alleys, one doesn’t see homeless people. Some bums may hang out by the railroad depot but they are soon arrested and given a choice of either going back to their families or wind up 500 km way from the major cities in camps where they have to work under strict supervision.

        • I’m Russian, and Russia is an extremely poor country. There are close to 5 million homeless in Russia. We came to the USA for a better life, and we escaped poverty. My relatives in Russia are very poor. Is there any country that doesn’t have homeless folks???? Denying something doesn’t make it go away!!!!!

          • I’m Russian as well and Russia is hardly poor. A country with tremendous natural resources and a highly educated population with a culture embracing family values. Cities are renovating (not only Moscow) and shopping centers are bulging with merchandise and people. There are more and more opportunities to get ahead which was not the case under the soviet era.

            There are a few thugs and toughs here-and-there, but basically the cities are free of freeloaders and homeless. Alcoholism is mostly a plague for the older generation, The younger people don’t seem to have that problem.

          • Sorry to hear your relatives are so poor. Russia offers more opportunities now, unlike how it operated as part of the USSR! Being here now, you might send some help until they can get on their feet and don’t become the VERY FEW homeless in Russia. This way, they can avoid being picked up and arrested.

          • @Pavel – We help as we can. Read the Moscow Times (June-2019) article estimating that the homeless in Russia is in the millions!!! Some are in the open, and lots of others are hidden. To deny it is really dumb, and doesn’t make problem go away. Lots of people are denying reality. Sad.

      • Highly educated, heh? I doubt it. If you were, you’d see that Grisha is correct. I don’t know him, but someone born and raised in Russia knows pretty much what’s going on and how the country has changed post the soviet era. The middle class is rising and so many people have automobiles that there is a real parking problem because most cities were not set up with parking lots. The malls, especially in the larger cities, are about 4 times s large as our largest mall. The HUFF and MEGA BELAYA DACHA go for miles! On a weekday, you cannot even find a space to leave your car in their humongous parking garages.

        These malls stay open from 10 am until midnight. Not one single “homeless” person is seen.

        Every high-end and middle-end store is represented. Fast food areas (McD’s, KFC, Tacobell, etc. have huge serving areas and are always packed.

        Basically, the Russian (Slavic actually) culture is matriorchial which means the mother rules the roost. If anyone strays via alcoholism or homelessness, they are pulled in by this culture which means that families take care of their own. Be it non-alcoholic related mental illness, dysfunction from other sources, that is taken care of within the family.

        Vagrancy is against the law and the punishment is not very pleasant. Arrest, banishment to a distant part of the country and compulsory hard labor isn’t very appealing, but it works. It doesn’t matter whether the culprit is a man or woman. Equal treatment under the law.

        • Just because something is against law doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I was born and raised in Russia too, and I’ve seen too much poverty and homeless folks. Read Moscow Times (June-2019). Millions of homeless in Russia. Just because a country is poor doesn’t mean everyone is poor. USA is wealthy country, but most folks aren’t wealthy.

  21. Wooo Hooo for you. Now I know the education system has failed. Move on superior students to another more
    “Sophisticated” venue. Socialism has not won yet.

  22. I’m not Russian, but I’ve been to Russia, and it’s a well known fact that Russia is a very poor country. It always has and always will be. It’s one of the main reasons Russia has such a high alcoholism rate. The same reason Indian reservations have a high rate of alcoholism. POVERTY. This isn’t breaking news.

      • Moscow – Sergiev Posad – Suzdal – Bogolyubovo – Vladimar – St. Petersurg (2016). It was my husband’s idea, and not my favorite vacation. It was okay. Far more enjoyable places to visit, but we’re well traveled.

        • You may have possibly been there, but you did not LIVE there and saw the day-to-day action. Having been born there and lived there for 28 years, is what it takes to know one’s country and it transitions from one political system to another.

          Being “well traveled” is just that. You’re traveling and not living there which gives you an entirely different perspective.

          • And I’m entitled to my opinion whether you like it or not. Under your analogy, you can’t comment on ANY stories (including this one) IN AMERICA since your weren’t BORN HERE. Go back to Russia.

          • Melanie, if he’s an American citizen now, he can travel back to his former homeland like I can to my native Germany. You’re just mad because you were caught pushing something that doesn’t exist. I believe someone who is a native of a country over someone who just travels there on a 2 week holiday.

            Opinions don’t matter if there are facts to prove something. Just be aware of that!

          • Hey Monica, I just posted facts. You’re mad because you’re wrong. Stats don’t lie. Look them up yourself.

        • Hey Melanie, you’re a prime example of why we were called “The Ugly Americans” at one time.

          Wow! Now you’re an expert on the homeless none-existing-problem in the world.

          • See Pavel V. comment. He says he was born and raised in Russian, and he’s quoting a Russian newspaper (or magazine). Get out of denial about the homeless problem worldwide. Homeless people are very poor, and poverty is EVERYWHERE. America is one of the wealthiest countries. Are you people really that ignorant that you can’t admit you’re WRONG? Are you really that F****** stupid that you think only America has homeless people, when homelessness is poverty related, and most countries are poorer than America.

          • 15 CITIES WITH HIGHEST HOMELESS POPULATION IN THE WORLD

            15. Athens, Greece
            14. Phoenix, Arizona
            13. San Francisco, CA
            12. Washington, DC
            11. Boston, MA
            10. Sao Paul, Brazil
            9. Budapest, Hungary
            8. Buenos Aires, Argentina
            7. Mumbai, India
            6. Jakarta, Indonesia
            5. Mexico City, Mexico
            4. MOSCOW, RUSSIA
            3. Los Angeles, CA
            2. New York, NY
            1. Manila, Philippines

            NINE OUT OF 15 CITIES AREN’T IN AMERICA! NINE OUT OF 15 ARE IN OTHER COUNTRIES!

  23. Ms. Kelly’s letter of complaint describes part of a situation we all know about. How about some letters though proposing some constructive solutions?

    • MR — A lot of constructive solutions have already been offered . . here and on other sites. What needs to be done is to have them IMPLEMENTED!

  24. Nick… LOL! We’re wasting our time debating with other readers who aren’t very bright. Remember how we were told we “were wrong” on the house/home debate, and we proved them wrong. And the comments got really quiet? It’s happening again. You have to be really, really stupid to think that there isn’t a homeless problem around the world, especially in countries that are a lot poorer than ours. Like poverty and homelessness only happens here. UNBELIEVABLE!

    • Melanie, you’re right. Homelessness has been a problem throughout the world for centuries. It’s a well known fact. You can read several articles online even if you’ve never been outside the country. And with the exception of people on this thread who were born outside the country, it’s very obvious others haven’t traveled outside the US. It makes you wonder if they’ve ever left East County. Maybe they don’t leave Antioch. I guess the Moscow Times is wrong too. Not that they would know anything about Moscow, which is #4 in homelessness throughout the world.

    • Melanie — you and that guy are the ones who are not “very bright.” Many of us have lived abroad (Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Croatia) .. years in each country. You’re such a bitter old crone that people with international experience pretty much buried you and your lack of knowledge. You just can’t take it, can you!

      I bet you don’t read the Moscow Times or Nezavisimaya Gazeta in RUSSIAN. The English online edition is quite different

      It’s obvious that the one who has not been outside the country or even Contra Costa County is YOU. Watching the travel shows on PBS is not the same as spending years in a foreign country.

      • Grace, that one sound like a bitter old biddy! Watching Rich Steves’ travel shows just
        doesn’t cut it. I too have lived in Switzerland (Bern) while working with the US Embassy. Also in Montreux and Vevey. My grandmother lives in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

        The only place I saw some homeless was in Zurich, but they could have been gypsies. The police rounded them up fast. Berlin had a few, but nothing like we have here. We do have a very serious problem.

      • I don’t read the Moscow Times at all, but another reader above does, that grew up in Russia. Also, I didn’t write the facts that Nick is quoting, nor did I write the article.

        Nick attended Stanford (not sure how many degrees) and I have an advanced degree from UCLA.

        What Nick and I are facing is people that are illogical and stupid. Argue with the journalists that write the Moscow Times. Argue with the journalist who wrote the article that Nick quoted – 15 most homeless cities. And yes Grace, you’re really effing stupid. You’re the one who is bitter, and you can’t accept the facts that are posted. Dumb B***H! I’m done with stupid people! You need to get laid.

        • Melanie, you obviously haven’t been laid in many decades and it shows. I feel sorry for UCLA having had to put up with you. My dad is a full professor there.

          Nick most likely worked as a janitor at Stanford, if he ever worked at all!

      • Grace, STFU. Nobody cares what you think. Nobody cares where you say you’ve lived either, which is BS.

  25. I’m of Hungarian descent and travel to Budapest and other cities frequently. My relatives moved back there and reclaimed their homes and businesses after the communists were finally kicked out. Some of them were teenagers during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and managed to dispense with quite a few Russians.

    While there are some stragglers around one might think are homeless, on the average, this is not the case and the vagrancy laws are very strict and highly enforced. To make sure things stay that way, Hungary will not accept any migrants from North Africa, neither will Poland, Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria.

    • Szia! Hogy vagy, Zoltan? I travel to Hungary a lot as my relatives live in Budapest! I’m glad Hungary and the other eastern Europeans countries do not let the criminal element into their lands. This way they avoid having their cities peppered with vagrant elements. Hungarian and Polish cities are great to spend time in without having to watch from stepping on the bums sleeping on sidewalks like they do in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

      Our powers-that-be should have dealt with this pestilence long before it totally went out of control like it has now.

    • Then why is Budapest, Hungary #9 on cities with most homeless people in the world??? Never been there cause we were too poor to travel, but my friend is from Hungary, and she came to USA for a better life. Lots of people in denial on this thread, and denial doesn’t make problem go away. Just frustrates people who live in reality.

  26. Per official statistics, in July 2018 the average monthly salary in Russia was 42,413 Rubles, which is around USD 670. $670 USA dollars a month is very, very, very poor. I don’t understand why so many people deny this. Do they just believe homeless are only in Cali????? Kinda silly!!!!! Maybe just frustrated over homeless problem?????

    • Pavel, “Cali” is a city in COLOMBIA …….. the ONLY one with that name. Their mascot is the cat. Cat statues all over that place. The name of our state is CALIFORNIA sometimes abbreviated as CA or Calif .. or NoCA or SoCA.

  27. 1 in 1,670 American are homeless, 0.006%. 3.5% of Russians are homeless, 1.5-3 million. This is reality, and denying it and getting angry at a couple of folks who are right is really, really dumb. It makes you look very foolish and immature.

  28. Well…for all you non Antioch residents who just happened to find this comment section,you can understand why the people here will never fix the homeless problem.Antioch was never a great place to begin with but it was always affordable for a blue collar worker to buy their first home. Actually the housing boom of the mid 2000s did more harm than the actual housing crash in Antioch because the rubes that got their homes for nothing in the 80s and 90s sold out in the 2000s couldn’t make their new mortgage payments in the 2010s.Now Antioch is the last stop before either homelessness or Stockton.

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