After seven years and 365 columns, writer Wanda Sue Parrott of Seaside published her final “Homeless in Paradise” installation on Oct. 29. The 86-year-old former Hearst reporter met Kelli J. Keane a few years back at church, and Keane at the time was an early client of One Starfish, a nonprofit serving homeless people living in their vehicles. While Parrott herself has never lived in a vehicle – though she used to sleep in her hot orange Mazda at highway rest stops while traveling – she was compelled to begin telling stories about the homeless community and efforts to fix it, and her column was born. Her final column looked back to those early days, when she first reported in 2014 on the second annual fundraising breakfast for what would become the Fund for Homeless Women, funneling needed dollars to new initiatives like One Starfish, and an effort that eventually became the nonprofit Gathering For Women. Keane is now sheltered and lives in Salinas. Parrott, writing under the pen name Diogenes Rosenberg, plans to switch to poetry.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“The atmosphere behaves a lot like the stock market.” - Meteorologist Carey Dickerman, who works at the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center in Monterey (see Face to Face story).
GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK
Seven low-income King City families are new homeowners this week, after putting in hundreds of hours of sweat equity over the past year to build their houses thanks to nonprofit People’s Self-Help Housing. The group assists families earning up to 80 percent of the area median income ($81,000 for a family of four in Monterey County) to qualify for construction loans, which are later converted to affordable mortgage loans. The home and any equity that accrues belong to the family. Founded in 1970, PSHH has been active in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and is now making further inroads in Monterey County with plans for a larger development in Greenfield, according to President/CEO Ken Trigueiro. PSHH will subdivide 4.5 acres it purchased into 36 lots and make infrastructure improvements. Trigueiro expects construction for the future homeowners to start in 2023.
Travel from foreign countries into the United States resumes Nov. 8, which is great news for Monterey County’s tourism industry after it took a $1.74 billion loss in visitor spending in 2020. According to the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau, international visitors stay longer and spend a lot more than domestic travelers. They also tend to visit mid-week and off-season. Before the pandemic, international tourists were 13.8 percent of total visitors but accounted for 20 percent of overall travel spending in the county. “It’s something to be excited about,” says MCCVB President and CEO Rob O’Keefe, although he adds, “we still have a long ways to go.” It could take three years to return to pre-pandemic levels of international visitors. Foreign travelers to the U.S. will be required to be fully vaccinated and show proof of vaccination status, with few exceptions, per the CDC.