Readers call for peace, prayer, solutions

The letters keep coming in on downtown’s challenges and how to deal with them.

In a guest column to be published in Thursday’s paper, the former city manager, Jesus Armas, calls for an end to the “finger-pointing and accusations” of the past week and suggests building a multi-service downtown center to provide for the less fortunate.

Meanwhile, Tom Green, whose last letter we printed on The HayWord last week, sent in another one echoing some of Armas’ remarks. In the meantime, Green says, his church will be praying every Saturday outside City Hall:

I wanted to give you a brief update on what has transpired since the City Council working session last week. As you are aware, Neighborhood Church of Castro Valley decided to comply with the wishes of the City that the mass feeding of poor and homeless people in downtown Hayward be curtailed. To this end, we went to the Library on Saturday and announced that are program had been suspended. We then walked to City Hall with a group of about 50 people and had a time of prayer for the blessing of the City of Hayward and for wisdom and courage for the City leaders in addressing the needs of the poor. We will continue this prayer time in front of City Hall each Saturday until a solution is found, or a new permitting process is in place. In the meantime, we will continue to offer care to those in need both at our facility and as we encounter individuals on the streets.

We understand that a significant hurdle to the revitalization of downtown Hayward is the reduction in the amount of panhandling, litter, aggressive behavior, and other realities of the presence of a large homeless population. We support the goal of recreating a civic hub in downtown Hayward while at the same time finding effective ways to reduce the undesirable aspects of homelessness by directly addressing the issues of people in need.

To this end we would like to solicit your input and guidance as we brainstorm on possible ways we can work together to solve some of the most pressing problems facing the homeless population of the Hayward area. We believe that to be effective a range of issues need to be addressed. They are as follows:

Availability of low cost or free meals on a daily basis to anyone in need;
Public restroom and shower facilities to serve the needs of the homeless;
One-stop public services referral and delivery location;
Community service opportunities to give purpose and dignity to people looking for work;
Transitional housing for people who are making a serious attempt to return to the mainstream of society

We were very encouraged by the discussion of a partnership with the City and other interested organizations in finding a location near, but outside of the downtown area, that could meet many of the issues listed above. We have been in touch with several of the other groups that are currently feeding the poor and homeless in downtown Hayward and there seems to be a willingness to work together. We believe that the creation of such a facility might be possible within the context of redevelopment funding with significant investments by other faith-based organization in terms of manpower, supplies and operational resources. We would see the ongoing operation of such a facility to be a shared cooperative effort between the faith-based organizations under a newly created organizational umbrella.

What we need from the City is support that this is a course that could be pursued and guidance as to possible locations that are near, but outside of the downtown area, that would be acceptable for this type of facility. We believe that unless such a facility is available there will continue to be a problem with panhandling and aggressive behavior as people are drawn to the increasing number of patrons in the revitalized downtown area.

If this is something that you believe can be pursued, then we would welcome your guidance as to the proper course of action to help bring the specific recommendations and plans before the City Council.

Thank you for your attention and we hope that this can become the beginning of a fruitful endeavor to address the needs of the poor and homeless of Hayward.

Tom Green
CrossStreets Homeless Outreach
Neighborhood Church of Castro Valley