Helping the Homeless

Often, even against their will, it is something that a compassionate society just needs to do for the homeless, especially the mentally ill homeless, as examined in this editorial from the Sacramento Bee.

An excerpt.

A twisted path led to Genevieve Lucchesi’s pathetic death at age 77 in a dirty blue sleeping bag in midtown Sacramento in February.

Genny’s story, meticulously reconstructed and told so powerfully by The Bee’s Cynthia Hubert last Sunday, says much about the soul of our city and society, and about the intersection of mental illness and homelessness.

Kind-hearted people of midtown offered her coffee, food and a few bucks, but didn’t have the ability or tools to persuade her to come indoors.

Operators of a Chevron station didn’t mind that she would sleep in one of the station’s handicapped parking spaces, and use their facilities to care for herself, more or less.

Well-meaning cops checked up on her, making sure she was safe, relatively. Social workers paid her occasional visits, but couldn’t persuade her to accept the simple gift of housing vouchers.

Mostly, Genny’s story is one of acceptance of sicknesses to which we have become inured. We have come to accept that it’s OK that severe mental illness is left untreated. We have talked ourselves into believing that people who suffer from it have the right to be ill. Genny didn’t bother anyone, so no one intervened on any serious level.

We tell ourselves that we are a compassionate and charitable people, and yet we have come to conclude that Genny and thousands of poor souls like her have the right to live in parking lots, under freeway underpasses and along riverbanks, and to die there. The Bee’s Erika D. Smith recently made that point by describing the wall at Loaves & Fishes where names are inscribed of homeless people who died on the streets.

Retrieved November 3, 2016 from

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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