I am literally writing this column amidst the organized chaos of packing and moving our Scott family household to our new home in Indio. We are excited to be here (almost) and looking forward to some post-move peace and quiet.
Living temporarily out of boxes is an inconvenient challenge, but I can’t help but think of those who are not so lucky and whose chaos never really ends. We feel like we consistently make progress (incremental steps) in combating homelessness, but it remains a priority. The Indio community has long been at the forefront of this effort. We have many generous, caring people here, including those at the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, Martha’s Village, ABC Recovery Center, FIND Food Bank, many in our own religious community, JFK Hospital and others in the medical community. The Desert Healthcare District, which recently received voter approval to move into the East Coachella Valley, has taken a leadership role both in funding and facilitating strategy to combat homelessness. Social services are provided in Indio by Riverside County, a host of remarkable nonprofits, and a very few for-profit community care providers who step up to this challenge. Affordable housing has been built and operated for many years by the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition under Julie Bornstein’s remarkable leadership. Habitat for Humanity does new projects every year, often supported by our business community. As always, SunLine Transit is involved in affordable transportation, much as they support virtually every worthwhile program in the region. I could go on. The Salvation Army, Path of Life Ministries, all of our neighboring cities, etc.
I am leaving names out here, at my own peril. I have such admiration for all those who volunteer or commit their careers to this work. The educational community in Indio and the Coachella Valley work hard to teach career skills and to provide counseling to those in need. Just teaching life skills is of critical importance.
The Indio City Council also addresses homelessness on a regional basis. We participate with other cities and the County through Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) committees that fund and provide regional assistance — temporary sheltering, cooling and warming centers, medical assistance, counseling, vocational skills, and permanent housing. We work closely with Riverside County officials in the CAO’s Office and Supervisor Perez’s Office (Greg Ramirez). I am aware of the frustration among the public about homelessness – both the humanity of it and the impacts on parks, sidewalks, private properties, sanitation, etc.
The Indio Police Department operates a high-performing Quality of Life Team that constantly works with the homeless and with those who are affected by the blight and security issues that come with it. I am proud to be associated with these very caring teammates. They make every effort 24/7 to help people find solutions. Residents are welcome to make contact with the Quality of Life Team (760-391-4051) if you have concerns that you wish to discuss.
Meanwhile, I will finish the move into my new home and feel good to be part of this community. I am particularly happy to be in a community that cares so much about solving problems for those who need us the most.
Late Addition; I knew better than to name names because one always leaves out important participants. I have not received a single complaint, but on my own, I notice several omissions. Lift to Rise is working very collaboratively with the Desert Healthcare District in implementing strategies from the Barbara Poppe study. They are a valuable and a highly networked partner. I also note that the United Way of the Desert was an early funder of some of their activities.
And in my own Police Department, I failed to note the work on the CVRM Community Outreach Resource Program (CORP) program that provides job and life skill training to scores of participants in a supportive environment.
I am sure I am leaving out other very worthwhile efforts from groups whose work helps prevent homelessness, ranging from Desert Arc to One Future Coachella Valley, youth programs, job training programs, and so much more.