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Homelessness is a nation-wide epidemic. “Thankfully, we live in Napa Valley,” one may say. However, we are not an exception to this epidemic.

Throughout history, individuals in Napa Valley have had the luxury of living their lives surrounded by beautiful vineyards and wineries. Waking up to birds chirping, hot air balloons in the sky whistling through the air, and hearing about the celebrities that come into our beautiful city. We, without a doubt, are very blessed to be in a place like this.

However, while most of us have the opportunity to appreciate all of these things, some do not have a place they can call home.

As I drive past Napa Valley College, I see homeless individuals. Likewise, through downtown on a weekend night after having couple of drinks. Do I feel bad? Should we all feel bad? I certainly do.

These individuals do not have their basic needs met, yet there are some of us that take the small things in life for granted. You should not feel bad that you cannot get them out of poverty or homelessness. It is not your responsibility.

However, you should feel bad that their city is letting them down. Many of us come to this city from somewhere else in the country. We come for the opportunities and the elegant lifestyle that the media portrays.

However, we have Napa natives that cannot stay here due to their circumstances. Is it their circumstances or is it the system that the city has in place that is failing them?

Napa truly cares about its people, so it should care about the homeless as well. We are all human beings and we deserve to have our basic needs met. One may say, it is because they are hooked on drugs and that is what brought them to that state. However, what if it was the loss of a job due to an injury? They lost their home due to the loss of their job?

Since they cannot afford anything, they resort to stay in their hometown, Napa. For many, that is their reality. I may have a solution for this and please pay attention. This will shape or alter many of the values we all have.

Opening up a shelter? One may rebut and state this would not work. However, let’s just say we open up a shelter. How in the world can we get this done?

Let us think about this possibility. Having all the wineries in Napa Valley provide 1 percent of their gross profits in order to conduct a housing project for the homeless here. If a given winery makes $1 million in profits, which is generous consideration, let’s take one percent of that. That will be $10,000 in one year.

Multiple this by at least 400 wineries, that is a total of income of $4 million. If we make this plan for four years, how can we not make a change in this beautiful city? Are we scared of crime and drugs? This is all stigma that is associated with the homeless. We will not lose tourism here. We will not lose investors. We will provide the basic needs these Napa natives deserve.

Come on, Napa Valley. Let’s make the change we want to see for the better of the homeless, the city, and the community.

Miguel Ramirez

Napa

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