Homeless cartoon wasn't out of touch

Published: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 2:07 a.m.
Letters in the May 30 Sun about Jake Fuller's cartoon about the homeless man suggest that he is out of touch with reality, that only a minority of the homeless would fit his model. Let's resort to some available survey results. The Cuomo Commission found that 65 to 80 percent of those in New York shelters tested positive for drugs in 1992. A co-manager of the highly commended Marriott Pathways Program for the Homeless states that only a minority of their recruits remain after a year - that a majority think that someone else is always responsible for bad things that happen to them.
A Catholic priest, Joe Carroll, administers St. Vincent de Paul Village in San Diego. He gives priority to the the new homeless who are able and willing to work, or upgrade their skills, and really want to avoid having someone else support them. For them, he provides clean, phone-equipped rooms, and semi-private bedrooms, with round-the-clock access to a barbershop and a clinic whose staff members offer free bus tokens, budgeting and resume-writing courses, and provide a school across the street for their children. Even so, only 20 percent of the homeless there make the cut for the longer-help programs.
Based upon the above and other data, it appears that success requires that participants be conscientious volunteers who are serious about wanting to improve their circumstances; that they give up drug and alcohol abuse and observe certain rules about punctuality, dependability and appearance. And when necessary, they must be willing to start at the bottom and work up.
William M. Fox, Gainesville

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