(WTVM) - Out in California, the number of homeless people is so large, there are laws against feeding them or allowing them to sleep in public places.
It's ironic that a state now dedicated to being a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants is leading the nation in criminalizing the behavior of the homeless.
That's quite a contrast to how our local communities generally deal with people whose lives are lived on the street.
Granted, the numbers of homeless in our region of the Southeast is much smaller than California's.
But local efforts, like the United Way's "Point in Time Count", done in cooperation with the organization "Home for Good" is a much more pro-active effort that we strongly support.
The United Way dedicates one week each year to finding as many homeless people as they can, meet with them and collect vital data on their needs.
At the same time, they provide them boxes of food and hygiene items.
One day last week, during the count, the homeless were encouraged to attend a special job fair for them at the Chuck Roberts Center in Phenix City.
Another event was held at the Open Door Community House to explain educational and healthcare options that exist for the homeless and to help them access that help.
There is no doubt that homelessness can strike anyone when illness – often mental illness - derails them or finances collapse. Many people live paycheck to paycheck and there is a thin line between the working poor and the homeless.
That's why we are so lucky to have the United Way and Home for Good, along with the Valley Rescue Mission and so many churches and resources dedicated to easing the burden of homelessness.
We all need to support that effort year-round, as these organizations all do, as they do the hard work to help the homeless make meaningful improvements in their lives, one person at a time.
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