To the editor:
Dear Mr. Bond,
We reap what we sow. As Oregon, and other states, began eliminating mental institutions with the idealistic plan to care for these people in their own communities, the plan went dreadfully wrong. The money that had previously supported our mentally ill citizens and met their basic needs for food, shelter, clothing in addition to providing work opportunities, was syphoned off.
Out of sight, out of mind set in and the funding necessary to successfully support the mentally ill in our communities never got here. As a result, we have a mentally ill population who live where, and how, they can.
Our police officers have, by default, become mental health therapists whose only option is often to jail these people for disorderly conduct, which solves nothing.
I especially want to point out that the man who pulls the large cart spends his day picking up trash from our streets and roadways. He has lived in our community for many years providing this service. He has family who have stepped in to help when he has become physically ill, but he cannot be forced to stay where he doesn’t want to be.
The solution is not “moving them along,” which would just bring us people who have been moved along from other communities.
What we need is a comprehensive plan for the treatment of mental illness, which maintains a person’s dignity, recognizes that illegal drug use is often an attempt to self-medicate, and gives people options for safely existing as part of our community.