Our Homeless Population
It is criminal that our City Councilors use our homeless population, that they have partially been at fault in creating, as some front for attempting to make themselves look like they are championing for them. Making homelessness a line item in our city’s budget just amplifies the point as to our City overseers not having a clue as to what to do and thus making the problem a permanent item with its own department and staff, unaccountable to results like public education beyond just management of the situation. This situation has progressively worsened and of late with the city’s hands off approach and destructive economic measures, skyrocketed under the guise of our City government.
Three main areas to consider even though they overlap: Economic, Mental Health and Drug/Alcohol Addiction. Of course, criminal record and being illegally in the US are two additional pieces of the pie.
Economic: In imposing a minimum wage base that is on its way to $15.00, the $7.50 entry level jobs that many of our homeless would gladly take are gone. Along with that, a job that was done before by two $7.50 employees pushed small business employers to rid themself of one or possibly both putting them out on the street with no viable skills to market in a $15.00 environment. All that was further exacerbated by draconian state “and local” mandated business covid closures. Both these situations locked our lower echelon high school graduates and dropouts out of entry level work and that starting out “hand up” those jobs are meant to provide.
Mental Health: Starting in the 1980s, state run psychiatric hospitals have been closed leaving our mentally disadvantaged to bounce from street to jail back to street and from town to town over and over with no means for them to get care. This is a State problem that needs the State Legislature to address. The City should file a compensatory damages suit against the state for its failure to exercise due diligence in protecting us from the economic burden we are facing.
Drug/Alcohol Addiction: Has much to do with despondency, which ties back into the previous two, and can also be directly associated with the failure of NM, including Las Cruces, to adequately prepare children for the real world of work. I am confounded as to why, from the outset of covid, alcohol sales were not restricted, and why the State pushed further into green lighting recreational marijuana legalization, both being depressants.
Criminal record: Ties to unemployability by the fact that once a felon always a felon which goes against our laws that incarcerate criminals of all types as a means to repay their debt to society. For felons that debt is never absolved which flares in the face of restorative style justice. As far as illegal aliens the remedy, at least in my mind, is obvious.
Solutional thought: 1) Pressure the LCPS to close failing schools and replace them with quality minded, student centric public charter schools that are overseen by an autonomous Charter only school board. 2) Create an attractive business friendly environment that brings businesses in that are not majority minimum wage employers. 3) Sue the state on mental health care. Demand psychiatric hospitals in Albuquerque and Las Cruces. 4) Fund an inpatient drug and alcohol 28-day treatment program that matches our city’s needs 5) Get rid of any reference as to our city being a welcoming place for illegal aliens or for that matter any other criminal element.
With all five of those on the front lines of our City leaders, we the populace would have good reason to be proud of our city and its desire to stand up and care for the ones that live here and actually participate in making it respectively flourish.Rob Wood