Coalition reaches out to Lompoc
Ordinance 1597(13) banning aggressive panhandling takes effect inside the city of Lompoc this morning. This ordinance was created by the Lompoc Police Department in conjunction with a collaborative of homelessness, mental health and substance abuse providers, the public, Chamber of Commerce and interested parties. As an interested party, the Healthy Lompoc Coalition is focused on community health. This local collaboration seeks to have a positive effect on the elements impacting the health of all persons living in Lompoc. This includes people living in our community who may be overlooked — the homeless and indigent population. People become homeless for a variety of reasons. Some folks are casualties of a challenging economy and labor market while others struggle with impaired mental health, substance abuse and addictions. Additionally, poor health, poverty and homelessness are also intimately intertwined. For families struggling to pay rent, a serious illness or disability can start a downward spiral resulting in depletion of financial savings for care, job loss, eviction and eventual homelessness. While these people may have no stable dwelling to call their own in Lompoc, they remain members of our community. Some Lompoc residents report an apparent increase in the number of homeless people who have been panhandling at various locations throughout the city. They can often be found near the doorways or driveways of local shopping centers and fast- food establishments. Some seek food, but most panhandle for money and well-meaning passersby hand them cash in an effort to be helpful. This well-intentioned practice tends to lead to more panhandling which can be troublesome in many ways. Many homeless and non-homeless panhandlers use money they have collected to purchase tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs. In addition, providers of homeless services compete for limited public and private funding, and as a result can provide only a minimum of services. A donation of money directly to a nonprofit agency is tax deductible and a more effective use of the community’s hard-earned money. These donations serve Lompoc citizens more efficiently and improve the community image and appearance to visitors in Lompoc by discouraging panhandling and helping to eliminate the practice altogether. Most importantly, donations to organizations ensures those who need services aren’t just provided cash, but also provided shelter, housing, job training, substance abuse, mental health and health care services. Together we can break the cycle of panhandling in Lompoc. Take action and help provide smart change not spare change.