“Hola!”, was an unexpected greeting from a notably pallid bank teller in Santa Cruz with whom I expected to deposit a check. I paused briefly, and before I could ask if he could speak to me with English, he asked, “Hablas ingles?”. I paused again, and replied, perhaps with a Californian accent, “Yes; do you?”

As he efficiently adjusted his linguistic obligation and conducted the transaction, I felt compelled to mention that, on rare occasion, my complexion generates such misconception. I probably should have said nothing, and avoided the subsequent discourse.

“Where are you from?”, he asked.


“No, I mean where are you parents from?”

“Here, . . . Sunnyvale and Santa Clara.”

“Where were they originally from?”

As I wondered why white people believe that they were here before anyone else, I briefly explained that my very distant ancestors came to North America from Europe while all sorts of other Caucasians were doing the same; and that my complexion was inherited from ancestors who left Italy a very long time ago. None of my ancestors spoke Spanish.

“Do you know people in the ‘Old Country’?”, he invariably asked.

“. . . Well, . . . since just about everyone I know lives in California, YES!”

Misconceptions associated with homelessness are much more bothersome, and are sometimes used to justify potentially serious discrimination and mistreatment. ‘Homeless’ simply describes a lack of a home. It does not describe reasons for such lack. Nor does it describe symptoms of such lack.

Although some stereotypes of homelessness are more likely to apply to some who are homeless than those who are not, they are neither exclusive to the homeless Community, nor inclusive of everyone within the homeless Community.

For example, addiction is more common among the homeless Community merely because so many who are addicted to some sort of ‘substance’ are more likely to become homeless as a result of such addiction. However, many and actually most who are afflicted with addiction inhabit homes. Furthermore, many who are homeless are not afflicted with addiction.

Only a few residents of Felton are presently homeless. If all of them but no one else were afflicted with addiction to some sort of ‘substance’, then such addiction would involve only a few residents of Felton. Obviously, such addiction is a much more significant problem, and the majority of those afflicted with it inhabit homes. Yet, those who inhabit homes are not necessarily stigmatized as addicts simply because they inhabit homes as the majority of addicts do.

Generalizations generally do not apply to everyone they are intended to apply to, and can initiate inaccurate misconceptions. Everyone has a unique story.

Rate of Houselessness

There are more people who lack domestic situations in California than in any other state. Well, that should be obvious. There are more people in California than in any other state. 12% of all Americans live here. Even if the rate of houselessness were the same here as it is in other states, 12% of those who are houseless in American would live here. That is a significant number!

Since the rate of houselessness here is approximately double that of the rest of America, approximately 24% of those who are houseless in American should reside in California, although the actual ratio is approximately 22%.

This is not because houseless people migrate to California. More of the unhoused live in or near their hometowns than those who live within homes. Although the primary causes of houselessness are similar, albeit to various degrees, for most regions of America, the main difference is the cost of housing.

Homes and rents are ridiculously expensive here. It is extremely difficult for those who lose a home to procure another. If houselessness is the result of unemployment, it is very difficult for someone who lacks a domestic situation to procure new employment in order to procure a new domestic situation!

Recovery from houselessness is not nearly as difficult in other regions, even with significantly less income. Furthermore, since mortgages and rents are more affordable, it is not nearly as difficult to maintain a stable domestic situation in order to avoid becoming houseless. Many who live in poverty here can afford to directly purchase a home in other regions.

Not many houseless people migrate to California. More migrate from California to live in homes elsewhere. Unfortunately, they are replaced by more Californians who become houseless. Many prefer to stay in their respective home regions rather than migrate.

Misconceptions – Accurate Information

How do those with whom we have no prior affiliation perceive us? It is impossible to know without some degree of acquaintance. Yet, new acquaintance, while providing rudimentary insight of how others perceive us, or how we perceive them, also changes such perception in the process. Is that good or bad? It could improve a bad first impression, or ruin a good first impression.

Good or bad, it is more accurate. To most of us, such accuracy is considered to be an asset. Accurate perceptions of others are useful for knowing who is trustworthy and who is not. Mistrust that is justified by accurate perception of character or experience is very different from a lack of trust of the unfamiliar. Conversely, justifiable trust of the familiar is earned with familiarity.

Sadly, some prefer to mistrust and fear the unfamiliar rather than attempt to determine if such mistrust and fear are even justified. For some, their potentially unfounded but very real fear is what prevents them from exploiting opportunities to become more acquainted and perhaps more comfortable with the sources of the same fear. Some merely lack opportunities to exploit.

What is worse is that there are a few who seem to crave mistrust and fear, regardless of their ability to engage sources of their mistrust and fear, and potentially dismiss unfounded threats. Although they do not likely live in constant fear, they claim to in order to justify their disdain for the sources of their alleged fear. They try to convince others that they should be fearful too.

The same accuracy of information that the logical sort employ to dispel unjustifiable mistrust and fear is an incumbrance to those who intently crave the same sort of mistrust and fear. They therefore and merely abstain from the use of accurate information.

Misconceptions – Bus Fare

There’s no place like home. Most of us genuinely and justifiably believe that our respective hometowns are very special. There is no doubt that they really are. We can get a bit overindulgent with such belief though. We tend to assume that social problems of all sorts are worse within our own Communities than they are in other Communities that we do not identify so much with.

No place is perfect. Most towns of significant population in America must contend with some degree of poverty, unemployment and homelessness nowadays. Even more contend with some degree of crime. Addiction has become an epidemic. Mental illness continues to proliferate. Conservatives blame liberals. Liberals blame conservatives. Lions and tigers and bears, OH MY!

To make matters worse, some believe that other Communities, both near and far, send the less fortunate of their respective societies here. Such Communities supposedly compel those who benefit from their generosity and willingness to assume the expenses of travel, to board airplanes, trains and buses to Felton. Communities within minimal proximity purportedly use Uber.

So, . . . where are they? Where are all those who arrived at the train station or airport here in Felton from somewhere else? Where are the airport and train station? Of those who ride local buses or use Uber, who got just one of their fares paid by another municipality who wanted them to leave? We are acquainted with all of the less fortunate here. These are simple questions.

When we help someone from here get to somewhere else, it is only because of some sort of opportunity at the destination, such as employment or a domestic situation. If the less fortunate of other Communities come here, it is likely for the same reasons. They are now likely employed and living in homes.

Misconceptions – Graffiti

Cave paintings might be considered to be some of the oldest examples of what we now know as graffiti. Alternatively, such ancient forms of self expression might have evolved into the sorts of artworks produced by Lester Johnson, Frida Kahlo, Mary Cassatt and Henri Matisse. Perhaps it all developed from the same primitive origins of more than sixty-four thousand years ago.

That is inconsequential now. Works of renowned artists are exhibited in museums. Graffiti defaces infrastructure until it gets painted over, or merely defaced and obscured by more graffiti. Except for several galleries of very compelling local art, and occasional touring exhibits, there are no formal art museums in Felton. However, there is more graffiti than only a few years ago.

Haters often blame the homeless for graffiti, merely because some of the homeless camp in some of the same places where graffiti is prominently displayed. In other words, the homeless did it because they were there. According to that logic, the haters must be responsible too, since they were also there. Otherwise, they would not have seen enough graffiti to blame others for it.

What makes anyone think that homeless people have any interest in the sort of elaborate graffiti that has been appearing around town for the past few years anyway? Homeless people have many more important issues to be concerned with. Drawing attention to their camp sites is not exactly a priority. Nor is spending limited funds on something as unnecessary as spray paint.

Besides, while graffiti has become more common than it has ever been, homelessness has become significantly less common. There are presently only a few homeless people in Felton. Most are not sufficiently agile to get into the situations where most of the graffiti has been displayed.

For some, blame is easier than logic.

Misconceptions – Homelessness Is A Growing Problem

Homelessness in America has been increasing very slightly for the past three years. It has been increasing in parts of California for a bit longer, and at a slightly more accelerated rate. More substantial increases are concentrated mostly in urban regions, particularly Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco. Homelessness really is a growing problem, at least for now.

However, for the decade prior to the the relatively recent increase that began only three years ago, homelessness had been decreasing at a substantial rate. Furthermore, the substantially increasing rates of homelessness in urban regions of California are sufficiently offset by decreasing rates in suburban and rural areas, to average out to only a minimal increase for the state.

This is not about homelessness in all of America though. Nor is it about homelessness in the rest of California. Here in Felton, the rate of homelessness has decreased significantly in the past seven years since 2012. Only a few people became homeless here during that time, and most of those were not homeless long. Several more who had been homeless have since found homes.

So, why do haters so regularly and predictably complain that homelessness is a growing problem in Felton? Well, that is part of what they do. They perpetuate false information intended to vilify their targeted victims, and exaggerate any innate problems associated with them. They strive to be a divisive force within an otherwise remarkably cohesive and inclusive Community.

No verifiable statistical information is necessary for a hater to claim that homelessness is a growing problem in Felton. Conversely, any observant and sensible person can plainly see that it is not. If homelessness really had been a growing problem since 2012, there would be more homeless people in town rather than less. It is that simple.

Misconceptions – Immigration

‘Misconceptions’ could become another category for this blog, like ‘Hypocrisy’. There is quite a bit to write about that could be categorized as such. It would be more relevant and interesting than the ‘Hypocrisy’ category, especially if the ‘Hypocrisy’ category is eventually deleted, as has been suggested. Furthermore, ‘Misconceptions’ would be less objectionable than ‘Hypocrisy’.

‘Immigration’, for example, is an interesting topic that is unobjectionably relevant to homelessness, but only because of the misconception that most homeless people here immigrated with the intention of being homeless. This misconception is obviously perpetuated by those who are not very acquainted with homeless people, particularly the local homeless residents of Felton.

There are certainly more homeless people in California than elsewhere. There should be. There are more people of all sorts in California than elsewhere. California is the most populous state. Because real estate here is more expensive than all but only a few other places in America, a disproportionate ratio of those who live and earn income here can not afford a mortgage or rent.

Most homeless people in California lived here while they were not homeless. They payed mortgages and property taxes or rent just like anyone who lives in a home. Some payed significantly more than average. Most had gainful careers here. Some raised families here. Sadly, some who are homeless are in the process of raising their families. Some have never lived anywhere else.

Of the few homeless people presently in Felton, only one immigrated from outside California less than a decade ago, early in 2013. Only one immigrated from outside America, but did so for work in the early 1990s. All others are Californian, and have been in Felton for many years. More than half are native to the San Lorenzo Valley. More than half formerly owned homes.