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In response to Steve Villiano’s letter about the homeless camps throughout Napa (“Homeless encampments spreading along Napa River,” Nov. 29): Unfortunately you may see more, not less, of them in the future.

Mental illness and drugs do account for some, but you see, Steve, the main reason is that California has the highest poverty rate of any state in the union. According to The Public Policy Institute of California, 20 percent live in poverty and another 20 percent live in “near poverty.” Add them together and you have 40 percent of Californians in deep financial distress.

Think of that number. Nearly half of Californians are struggling to make ends meet. Is this the “Golden State” our politicians brag about?

High taxes, high housing costs and rents and the high cost of living are causing our state to become a state for the wealthy and the poor.

And sadly, Napa leads the way.

Add to that 60 percent of our students are English learners and five of the bottom 10 of the least educated in the nation are in California and you have the real reasons we have so many poor.

Shuffling them around to “homeless shelters” is not the answer’ It’s a stopgap. Dealing with the root causes of poverty are. And throwing money at the problem hasn’t seemed to help. 34 percent of the nation’s welfare recipients live in California but only 12 percent of the U.S. population resides here.

In fact, could our generous welfare benefits be a reason some come to California. And Napa. Why live on the dirty streets of San Francisco when you can live in beautiful Napa and receive those benefits?

I question whether the Democrat-controlled state Legislature will change things though. After all, some say it’s their policies that have contributed to the problem. But they may not want to admit they have been wrong these many years.

Napans consider themselves compassionate and involved people but I wonder if they will look at these root causes of the poor and homeless and get involved in solving them by voting for people who will solve the real problems. Not just putting a Band-Aid on them as we have for decades and shoving them out of sight.

Kent Cohea

Napa

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