It seems to me there is a difference between being homeless and being a drunken vagrant. A homeless person has lost his home through unfortunate circumstances, wants to have a home, and is working hard toward getting one. Other homeless are severely mentally ill and deserve the compassionate generosity of the community.

Then there is the person who spends every penny they collect andquot;canningandquot; to buy a 40-oz. bottle of malt liquor. They illegally trade the use of their food stamp card for cash for booze. They go in and out of jail and steal from local businesses and residents. They have been a drain on the community for years and have no present desire to change their way of life.

For an alcoholic to get sober he or she must andquot;hit bottom.andquot; To coddle and overly-sympathize for a practicing alcoholic only enables their drinking which is exactly what an alcoholic wants and will even play on. Firm refusal to enable their disease has proved many times over to be the best kind of help an alcoholic can be given.

A common sense distinction should be made in the local assistance for the truly homeless and the alcoholic vagrant. Free meals, clothing, charity food boxes and shelter should be denied to anybody who shows up who has been drinking. Only then may they desire to seek treatment for the real source of their problems.

Virginia Streitberger

Crescent City