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To address homelessness, treat the illness

By Staff | Dec 30, 2020

To the editor

I am commenting on a recent article regarding a Task Force being formed to address the needs and obstacles of homelessness in Cape Coral and spearheaded by Councilmember Jennifer Nelson. It is my opinion that the main obstacle is mental illness.

Back in the ’70s and ’80s, most or all institutions for the mentally challenged in this country were closed, which left the majority of that population on the streets. Society is now paying the price for that misguided action. Yes, there were abuses, but one size does not fit all. I believe that the majority of our homeless population suffer from schizophrenia, paranoia or bi-polar disorder. These are serious mental illnesses.

Why are those with serious mental illnesses homeless? Families and friends are totally frustrated when all of their efforts have failed and their funds depleted. The nature of these illnesses tells those afflicted that they don’t need to take their medicines. But, in fact, they need constant monitoring by professionals 24 hours a day for one or two months in order to find the right medication. Where can someone, who does not have the funds or deep pockets, turn in order to get this treatment? There are facilities for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Why not for schizophrenia, paranoia and bi-polar disorder? It costs the taxpayers money when those with serious mental illnesses are incarcerated or are placed in a 72-hour facility.

It is difficult to see good people destroyed by these illnesses. It is time for this most serious situation to be addressed by local, state and federal governments who have too long ignored it.

Lilian Schick

Cape Coral