This is a reprint from the August 1984 edition
I know a woman who lives in Ocean Park who isn’t much different from the rest of us. About 5 foot 3, she’s a bit overweight, but not considering her years and what she’s lived through. She’s white, maybe even Irish with that sort of ruddy skin that doesn’t tan. She’s lived here a couple of years now. She likes Ocean Park, and she knows it well.
More than that I don’t know much about her. Except for one thing: she screams a lot. She just stands mid-block and screams. Sometimes she scream obscentities, but usually just a raw, high pitched screech. Sometimes she screams at particular people who don’t appear to be there. Sometimes she screams at whoever walks by.
But recently she’s been screaming about something very specific. She stands on the Community Center steps and screams that she has a right to a place to sleep, a right to be where she won’t get beat up or raped, where she can be clean and warm and dry. Not too much to ask, even if you’re out of your mind part of the time because the voices won’t stop.
But no on will take her. When things used to get too rough, the Santa Monica Police would send an officer out who took her to the County facility on Euclid Street. But 24 hours later and drugged sick they put her back on the street. Now they won’t even do that. Harbor General used to take her now and then. They would feed her and clean her up and get her well again, drug her real good, and set her on the street again. But they won’t do that anymore either. So even the police won’t pick her up now because they have no place to take her.
She needs care because sometimes she can’t care for herself. But the State facilities won’t keep the semi-capable. The County doesn’t have the facilities for the walking wounded. And no one pays. So the Community Center feeds her and tries to keep her alive. But when things get out of hand, there’s no where to go.
Probably 10,000 people like Jean walk the streets of this state. They’re there because the governor who is now President slashed programs and cut hospitals. And because Proposition 13 left no money for anything different. And because the sitting governor keeps it this way. Only the people who sit on the curb and scream their souls out want it to be different.
– Jim Conn