BARSTOW — Lucrezia McCant Yarborough paced along the small park next to the Union Bank.

She threw her arms up and appeared to be yelling at somebody. But she is alone.

Her face is dried up. Her arms and legs are very skinny. She appears to be full of anguish.

"Do you want me to tell you how Barstow is?" she asks. "They robbed me."

Most of what Yarborough says is hard to understand. But she was able communicate a few details.

"I'm trying to get a motel room for the night. I'm trying to get a bus ticket for tomorrow," she said.

She mostly complains about the pharmacies in Barstow.

"I need my medication," she said, claiming she suffers from emphysema. While she cries for her inhaler, she also says she needs her Xanax, Valium and Vicodin. She claims she takes 11 medications for various ailments.

"My doctor is on vacation. I can't deal with this."

Besides the medications, she admits to having drinking issues. She has advanced from beer to hard liquor.

Yarborough's behavior is not uncommon on Main Street, especially in the downtown area. In fact, business owners complain and residents express fear of spending time in the area. But it's not just not in Barstow. The mentally ill can be found everywhere on America's streets.

Mental illness is a major contributor to homelessness, according to the Mental Alliance on Mental Illness. Its report claims mental illness was the third largest cause of homelessness for single adults.

"Lack of treatment for the most seriously mentally ill causes the kind of delusions and bizarre behavior that makes living alone or at home with families untenable," the report said. "As a result, many people with untreated serious mental illness become homeless and communities are forced to bear the cost of that."

According to the 2015 San Bernardino County Point In Time Homeless Count, 44 percent of those living on the streets in Barstow suffered from mental health problems. And 26 percent had drug or alcohol problems.

Desert Manna CEO and President Darrin Fikstad gets an up-close view of the problem every day at the homeless shelter on First Avenue.

"We know them. They are on depressants, anti-depressants. They are on opiates," Fikstad said. "Some are bipolar and we see the ugly side when they are not on their prescriptions. They get violent. They get ugly. But I will tell you when they are on their prescriptions, they are another person. We are then able to help them."

But Fikstad said most of them can't stay at the shelter because the current Desert Manna facilities are inadequate to deal with such issues and they don't like rules.

However, Desert Manna is planning an all-in-one campus on property it purchased off of East Main Street along Interstate 40. The campus will not only provide housing for the homeless, but Fikstad is hoping to attract social service agencies that will provide assistance to those battling with such issues as mental illness and substance abuse.

Mental illness is not the only health issue found on Main Street. The 2015 homeless report also found that 19 percent of those counted suffered from chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart trouble, high blood pressure, seizures, hepatitis, respiratory problems, epilepsy, tuberculosis and arthritis.

The report also found 33 percent had a physical disability and 7 percent had developmental disabilities.

On Thursday, Clarence Baity was pushing a baby stroller covered in a blanket with two backpacks hanging on the handles down Main Street at Second Avenue. He claims two dogs, Baby and Satin, are under the blanket.

Jaton Fowler followed behind, pushing a wheelchair also full of belongings. Fowler was limping along. Her right ankle was in a cast with a white sock over it.

"I broke my ankle. I was having heart problems. I had a heart attack and I was getting off the toilet and I woke up and couldn't get up," Fowler said.

They claim to have been evicted from a nearby apartment that was provided to them a year ago by Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing. Fowler is a U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force veteran who was homeless in Riverside County and was moved into the Barstow apartment.

Besides the broken ankle, Fowler said she suffers from anxiety and depression, for which she takes medication. Her physical ailments also include congestive heart failure, cancer, a "bum knee," degenerate bone disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.

"The list goes on and on," Baity said.

"They accuse me of being a crack head and I'm on speed. But my health won't allow it," Fowler said.

Baity said he was trying to sell some food to raise the needed $40 to stay the night at a motel so Fowler can rest her ankle.

"I have medical issues. I'm getting older," Fowler said. She is 52.

"I can't be sleeping out here on the floor. I don't make trouble."

The Barstow Police Department has teamed up with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department to work to get people like Fowler off the streets. The Homeless Outreach and Proactive Enforcement program (HOPE) was started in 2014 by the Sheriff's Department. It uses a community policing philosophy to link the homeless population with resources and services.

The Barstow Police Department started its HOPE program in August of 2015. Cpl. Jose Barrientos goes out once a week for six hours to make contact and offer assistance to the homeless.

Barrientos said there are numerous services available to the homeless who are suffering from mental and health issues. But he said it can be a long process to persuade some of the homeless to cooperate.

"The goal for cases like these is getting them involved with a case manager who then guides them to a health counselor or physician," Barrientos said. "Our goal is to keep in contact, building trust, building a good repore as police officers.

"For most of them (homeless), it (getting them off the street) doesn't happen in one contact."

Mike Lamb can be reached at 760-957-0613 or You can also follow him on Twitter @mlambdispatch.