[Hpn] an open letter to Governor Locke [of Washington state]

a slow loris arboreal@speakeasy.org
Thu, 15 Feb 2001 14:32:26 -0800 (PST)


15 February 2001

Governor Locke,

I think it's great that you want our state to develop new
community-based facilities for mentally ill people who may not need the
comprehensive, restrictive--and expensive--programs of Western State and
Eastern State Hospitals.  Go for it!  Smaller scale, community-based
residential care facilities are desperately needed.  There's just one
thing...

Do you remember the last time large numbers of mentally ill people were
removed from Washington's big state institutions and "returned to the
community"? Do you remember how unprepared the community was to receive
those people, how few facilities there were for them, how the waiting
lists for safe housing and outpatient counseling ballooned? It wasn't
your decision that time, so you might not remember, but I assure you
that people who work in social services, especially those connected to
homelessness, do remember, because they deal with the consequences every
day.

So go ahead: plan, build, staff those community facilities for mentally
ill people--and then honor the de facto waiting list. House and care for
all the vulnerable people who have been filling the shelters and
shivering in the alleys for a decade or two because they can't manage to
get themselves a safe place to live--those of them who are still alive,
anyway. And when that's done, then you can talk about building
facilities for the next bunch of people you propose to turn out of the
hospitals.

Alison Slow Loris
Tacoma, WA

[note:  I sent this by email today to:  Governer Locke, Real Change
homeless people's newspaper, The Stranger (free weekly), and the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer (mainstream daily) ]

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"All we ever have is here, now."

			Ursula K. Le Guin


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