I recently wrote a letter to the editor in which I bemoaned the ineffectiveness of Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare, relative to the staff of the Astoria Police Department and the Columbia Memorial Hospital emergency room, in dealing with someone who was having a psychotic break.
I offered the rationale for the ineffectiveness of CBH as due not to a lack of will or professionalism, but rather to their insufficient funding by the county. What I did not mention in that earlier letter was that the mentally-disturbed person was also homeless.
Here again, in the case of dealing with the homeless, it is law enforcement and hospital emergency room personnel who bear the brunt of providing services, and that is true countywide, just as it is with mental illness.
I have suggested previously in letters to this newspaper that the county needs to establish an office to coordinate services to the homeless, rather than leave it to the ill-funded, patchwork and duplicative yet well-intentioned efforts of volunteers, churches and a variety of nonprofit organizations, mainly Clatsop Community Action.
I know for a fact that Astoria Police Chief Geoff Spalding, chairman of the Astoria homelessness task force, supports this idea of a coordinated approach at the county level, but there appears to be no will on the part of the county to do anything. This is the same Clatsop County commission that coordinated a $100,000 housing study that literally wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.