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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Among the homeless

Editor - While C.W. Nevius rightly links homelessness and mental illness in his Nov. 4
column, "Rights of mentally ill street people thwart efforts to prevent harm," he fails to
consider that the homeless person in question may also be an unreported missing person.

There are slightly more than 100,000 people listed as missing in the National Crime
Information Center (NCIC) missing persons database. But our eight years of research
show more than one million people are unreported missing. This gap allows the mentally
ill to become lost among the homeless.

When a person is reported as missing through NCIC, family members can be reunited
and take responsibility. In cases where family members do not exist or cannot take
responsibility, at least there is closure, and due process. Missing reports help prevent
homeless people from ending up as unidentified John or Jane Does, or becoming victims
of exploitative crimes.

Policy changes must be made at local, state and national levels to account for treatment
accessibility. Does the staff of San Francisco's new 311 program know that homeless
people should be checked against those in the NCIC missing database, and reported
missing, if possible.

We invite everyone to log onto our Web site to learn more.

Libba Phillips

Founder, Outpost for Hope