Eric Bever, the major of Costa Mesa, demonstrates a complete lack of empathy or foresight in his attempt to close a soup kitchen that serves 300 homeless people each day.
Despite evidence to the contrary, Bever argues that the facility only serves the homeless who stream in from out of town, across the Los Angeles County line. Costa Mesa, according to Bever, has no homeless.
Bever’s outlandish claim illuminates a national issue surrounding homelessness: the refusal of some to acknowledge it or see it as a serious problem.
The splendor of Southern California makes it easy to forget that some people are here not for the oceanfront homes, but because the weather is warm enough to sleep outside year round. In fact, there are over 45,000 homeless people in Orange County, despite its status as one of the most expensive areas in the country.
Bever strives to rid his city of this “nuisance,” portraying himself as a hero protecting his citizens. In reality, he is turning a blind eye to a significant percentage of the residents in his community. It is preposterous to think that shutting down the soup kitchen will solve the city’s problem. Removing aid for the homeless will not remove the homeless.
Furthermore, removing the homeless does not make Costa Mesa immune to the problems caused by homelessness. Homelessness lowers the nation’s overall quality of life, raises crime rates and hurts the national economy by rendering hundreds of thousands of people unable to work or contribute effectively to society.
Unlike people in many affluent Southern California communities, USC students witness these effects firsthand.
While people complain about the crime rate and poor aesthetics of the university’s surrounding community, a positive outcome results from such persistent exposure to serious poverty.
Mayor Bever exemplifies the pitfalls of denial; he cannot solve a problem he is unaware of.
USC, however, is training a new generation of leaders and policy makers in hopes that these students will take note of their current surroundings and attempt to fix such problems.