Numerous homeless build a tent in the city

Welcome to college. Word of the day: nashy. Etymology: New York slang for dirty, repugnant or ghetto. Used in a sentence: Nashy is the fetid wind that blows beneath the I-5 right behind City College, where a number of homeless men and women have built a tent-city.

Now the last the thing I’d want to do is insult my school and that includes the bums that live by it. We aren’t the most well off or the most famous of the community colleges in San Diego, but we have a certain character, part of which is thanks to our proximity to downtown.

We have culture, diversity and edge. However, these attributes are accompanied by the responsibilities and dilemmas of living in an urban environment.

And the refugee camp is nashy! When the sun sets in a slow drift behind the skyscrapers of San Diego, and the campus of City College tremors under a burnished liquid light, the camp stands out like a sore thumb.

I have to use a New York term to describe the human nests, the dirty blankets hung over the chain link, the detritus of last week’s meals littering the sidewalks with decay and the pervasive immanence of stale urine. NASHY.

I have a friend, Dwayne, lives in a different San Diegan underpass, has migraines and a family up North, somewhere near Yosemite, where things are green and verdant.

Truth is, I don’t mind Dwayne that much. He likes to build useless electronic gizmos out of things he has found in the trash. Gave me a mechanical bird for Christmas, which I naturally passed along to my mother.

According to Dwayne, he doesn’t meet the requirements for public housing assistance. According to Dwayne, the metal plate in his head attracts radio signals.whenever a plane passes he thinks he can hear the pilots Still Dwayne has a point.

For one, shelters may provide a warm place for the night, but you have to be there early. There are generally curfews. There are rules about what you can bring with you.

Some shelters require a referral from another agency, or a charity association. It’s not impossible, but it’s a lot of rules and regulations for people who generally live outside of rules and regulations. It’s an unnecessary hustle for one night of rest. Dwayne does it every once in a while.

Dwayne is what researchers and urban affairs administrators call chronically homeless. The chronically homeless are a relatively small percentage of the overall homeless in the United States.

While most Americans who’ve faced homelessness find their way back to social and economic stability, a few don’t. A few fall through the cracks and never become a functioning member of society; these few generally make their own society. Mental illness and drug abuse often play a large role in this sub-culture. The statistics vary, but they are undeniable.

I’m annoyed and disgusted by this nashy tent-town, but I’m a little ashamed also.

Every time I sat down to write this I wondered if I wasn’t causing problems for people who have problems enough. No one in the underpasses has ever caused me trouble, other than an assault on the senses.

In truth, I do not know what should be done about the homeless population. I am not sure who bears the responsibility for these people. At the end of the day, if people weren’t using my parking space as a toilet, I’d say we should live and let live.

There is not a lot of pity in this town for vagrancy. Homeless populations tend to be a great annoyance. Most cities, San Diego included, have a department that deals with the homeless population.

So, what should be done? What exactly is done when a tent city crops up?

I think I’m losing my edge, and in San Diego, edge is a limited resource. I’m not ashamed that I don’t want to step in feces, and yet the homeless population is a relevant social issue for City College and San Diego itself, unless we want to change our name to San Diego Suburban College, or the Gentrified School District of San Diego.

An unabashed war against homelessness would ensue, and people like me wouldn’t feel so torn. In fact, a name change seems like the easiest solution.

(Heather Richards is a City Times senior staff writer)

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Numerous homeless build a tent in the city