Jesse Chang's opinion piece about the City of Alhambra stopping a local church from housing homeless families triggered a flurry of comments firing back against local politicians and advocating for social programs. Ten readers wrote in supporting the First Baptist Church of Alhambra’s attempts to host and feed families while providing career resources as part of the Family Promise program. Readers also strongly criticized city officials for citing zoning and safety laws as an obstacle to the homeless prevention program. Just one reader asked whether the program was the right solution, stating that homelessness is a regional issue – not a local one – and that some were being too harsh on Alhambra's council members.
A long-time Alhambra resident wrote that the time has come for the city to reevaluate its policies. "I have been a resident of Alhambra for 54 years and have witnessed countless changes in the city's development and social structure," Yvonne Hahni writes. "The program of Family Promise is not opening floodgates of the homeless. There are times when we are forced to examine our value system and to determine, if we are willing to raise the bar not only in our private lives but also in our elected roles to govern a city. There is never a better time to do this than the present."
Jimmy Tam also wrote that local churches should be allowed to take over where the government falls short. “Alhambra city officials have always said that they are ‘business friendly,’” Tam writes. “There are too many needs out there for the government to handle. It is always the non-profits and the churches that help take care of people when the government's resources are limited or exhausted.”
Only one reader came to the City's defense, saying that homelessness isn’t easily solved by just one town. “There are homeless people everywhere,” Alhambra Resident writes. “They will go anywhere that will provide their needs. This is not just an Alhambra problem, but a REGIONAL issue. Perhaps more cities SHOULD WORK TOGETHER and stop picking on just one city.”
Neighbor added, that ultimately, the decision of the City's direction on these matters rests with the residents. "We are the City of Alhambra. If you dislike how the City is behaving, you need to get involved, let the council members know your opinion, and organize like-minded residents to make the change you wish to see," neighbor writes. "The City Council has regularly scheduled meetings; you can fill out a card to speak at the meeting about any topic you feel important. Details about meetings and their agendas are on the City web site: http://cityofalhambra.org/. Vote against the council members if you don't think they represent the best interests of the City. And elect someone who you think will do a better job to represent the city."
To which the author, Jesse Chang, responded, "It's good to remind people that it's not enough to just complain!"