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Task force on homelessness helps unhoused near Bay in pandemic

Original post made on Feb 19, 2021

The number of people living in encampments near the Bay in Menlo Park has dropped to around 10 from a high of around 60 people in the summer, thanks to efforts by a number of agencies to connect unhoused people with services.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 19, 2021, 11:14 AM

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Posted by Fire Chief Schapelhouman
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 19, 2021 at 5:54 pm

Fire Chief Schapelhouman is a registered user.

From the Fire Chief

A contractor hired by Caltrans and under the supervision and direction of Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol conducted encampment removal and mitigation in this 60 acre area all week.

Known as the “Triangle”, this area has been the source of concern and frustration for the Fire District for many, many years. I want to commend all of the partners that eventually joined the City of Menlo Park’s Task Force.

Although extremely difficult at times, this diverse group of stakeholders was able to successfully navigate through some of the most controversial issues of our time during a worldwide pandemic.

Deemed simply as “homelessness” this title only begins to scratch the surface of the human condition, societal, environmental and system dysfunction, actual risk to these individuals themselves, others, emergency responders and the community itself, that tolerance and our ability to just look away, or do nothing, has sadly become an accepted norm.

Have we fully solved the problem, absolutely not, but those who would accept help and who were repeatedly offered it have voluntarily left the area. Others have left for other encampments. Mental health, anti-social behavior, drug and alcohol dependency and criminality often get in the way of someone voluntarily being able rejoin society.

Compassion was both our friend and enemy at times! The contradictions in policy, practice, governance, the struggle for the common good and best interests of each person was rewarding but equally painful and difficult at times.

The decision to truly do nothing for years, that was only to be reinforced by the pandemic and that failed to calculate that first responders would be needed to suppress fires and respond to medical emergencies like drug overdoses, assaults, stabbings, shootings and threats to the broader community became more and more unacceptable and unreasonable, as emergency calls for service increased and the area deteriorated.

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