Seven months ago there was another billboard on this corner. You might remember my Chase rant. Soon after my post, the offensive advertisement, “home ownership within reach in Oakland?,” was removed.
I see this corner every week when I take the 27th Street exit on my way to church. Each week the homeless camp spreads further out in all directions, new tents, more shopping carts, more hungry people, more debris. Does it make sense now to advertise that “Marijuana has arrived?” What’s next? Could we plant a different seed? Maybe just one mustard seed of hope?
Thank you so much, Chase. It is remarkable that you had the insensitivity to post this billboard on the edge of a homeless camp. Are you really putting “home ownership within reach in Oakland?”
I see this camp each Sunday as I pull off the freeway on the way to church. I see the tents move from one block to another and then back again whenever the powers that be sweep the area. Yes, I agree the streets need to be cleaned up. But pushing the camps down the street is only a band aid on the problem. Maybe supplying portable restrooms would help. No wait – that was tried and didn’t work. How about dumpsters on each end? No wait – that was tried and didn’t work either.
The bottom line is you need to treat the cause not the outcome. “Oh but there are shelters for those people,” some say. Yes, there are shelters and they are full. But they are full of people who may have lost their jobs or couldn’t keep up with increasing rents. People who are able to give up their pets for a cot, never take a drink and work hard for a better life. Perhaps they will recall this billboard and approach Chase for that help that is offered.
And then there are the rest. It’s no secret that my son is one of them. Not in this neighborhood but one similar. He lives this lifestyle because of choices he made in his life. His opportunities are limited by the history of his actions – no one wants to rent to someone who can’t respect their property. Notice I said “can’t” and not “won’t.” Whatever the story behind this scene, no matter what kind of help is offered, some people simply cannot live the way we think they should.
Whether it be drugs or mental instability, herein lies the problem. Many think these people should live the way we want them to live. They just need to quit doing drugs, go to rehab and get a job. It’s not so simple. I’ve mothered an addicted son. For thirty years I’ve watched him repeatedly spiral down, detox, get a job, and lose the job. All the compassion in the world won’t bring back that little boy who broke my heart. I wait, pray and hope for him to emerge from his soggy tent to tread a new path. I also know, it is in his time – not mine.
Every Sunday I leave my comfortable home on the other side of the tunnel and enter this abyss of destruction. Is there a solution? Oh, how I wish. Meanwhile – Chase, you could do a lot better with your funds than to put up the slap in the face billboards in this neighborhood.