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Our Community Focus

Walnut Creek Mayor's Message By Justin Wedel

Apr 03, 2018 08:07PM ● By Elena Hutslar

Every two years, the Walnut Creek City Council develops our priorities - the council’s major areas of focus. These priorities aim to address some of the opportunities for progress the city is currently facing, including homelessness. As such, I am proud that this council continues to drive toward realistic responses to curb homelessness in our city. The city council recognizes that this is a regional issue for the Bay Area as cities deal with growing populations and an increasing cost of living.

Like most cities in the Bay Area, and like many across the country, Walnut Creek is not immune to homelessness. Walnut Creek has a history of a small homeless population, and while there are many reasons for the increase in the past few years – realignment and rising housing costs, amongst others – we as a community must realize that without investment in this issue, the problem will only continue to grow.

Like many of you, my family has been directly affected. Community members following this issue at the council level know I have shared my own family’s experience on this topic. Like far too many in our society, my family’s story involves an individual engulfed in the drug epidemic. Rather than turning to family for assistance, he has turned to community programs and services to provide even the most basic of needs, like food, shelter, and showers.

One such program is the Winter Nights Shelter held at various congregations throughout Contra Costa County. The City of Walnut Creek has proudly partnered with the Trinity Center for the past few years. The staff and volunteers at the Trinity Center are true angels to these people in need. This program provides shelter for dozens of individuals, help with drug and alcohol dependency, and training programs that strive for permanent housing and jobs.

Each year I volunteer at Winter Nights at my church, St John Vianney. My number one take away from this experience is that not all homeless situations are the same. Yes, some homeless individuals can be victims of their own choices – drugs, alcoholism, etc. – yet, many are no different than you or me. Families striving to make a good life for themselves while working full-time jobs struggle to get ahead.

Pearl Buck stated, “The test of a civilization is the way it cares for its helpless members.” I believe we must continue to do more to give a helping hand to people in need. We - nonprofits, government agencies, the business community, and you - must find better ways to work together to assist people in need. Educate, engage, and volunteer. Every step helps.