The elephant gets bigger

May 27, 2009

It sounds like something out of “Alice in Wonderland”: disappearing cats, magic elixirs, gargantuan elephants.

For Ventura, the last part is all too real; it’s no fairy tale.

If anyone saw our editorial cartoon last week, the “elephant in the room” gag was used to great effect by the VCR’s Steve Greenberg to describe our growing homeless problem in Ventura.

According to stats released yesterday, it sure has grown — homelessness is up 12 percent from last year.

The numbers were compiled from the city’s homeless census count, conducted annually by a group of homeless prevention advocates from the Ventura County Homeless & Housing Coalition.

The 12-percent jump amounts to almost 2,200 people without a home in Ventura County, compared to just under 2,000 in 2007-2008.

What’s upsetting is that the census head count reflects only a quarter of total homeless people here, according to the homeless prevention rep from the county’s government center in Ventura, because that’s how many people they estimate are out on the street at the same time.

In reality, it means there are up to 8,000 homeless people countywide seeking shelter, crashing at someone’s house, sleeping in a public bathroom or stairwell. And never mind the balmy California weather. It can get cold here in the winter … and it’s that much colder when you have nowhere to hang your hat.

Find results of the homeless census here:

http://www.vchhc.org/media/File/2009%20Homeless%20Count(1).pdf

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