Home > Design the Details, Editorial > Homelessness in city parks more than an enforcement issue

Homelessness in city parks more than an enforcement issue

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City bans alcohol in pocket park

The Jay Smith Walkway downtown has drawn attention this week. Apparently, as Commissioner Michael Gillman described it, “drunken bums” and “dope heads” are making people uncomfortable (RE). In reaction mode, the City Commission banned the consumption of alcohol in the pocket park. As it is basically a sidewalk, where drinking is also banned, it seems warranted.

That said, I agree with yesterday’s editorial in the Record Eagle, the drive to further “clamp down” on homelessness, what ever that means, requires a “deft touch”. People have rights and they deserve respect, even when they make you uncomfortable. “Clamping down” involves supporting more than law enforcement. Arresting people and forcing them out of certain areas does nothing but relocate the issues.

Expectations of what the City can actually do need to be discussed. For instance, when mental health programs are cut at the state level, many of the issues extend beyond what a small town can be expected to address. However, if you have a public urination problem, it more than likely means you have a lack of genuine public restrooms.

I trust that the City will approach the increase of homeless people in the community, even the ones dealing with tough challenges like alcohol and drug addiction, with an inclusive manner. There are experts in the region who are more adept in the challenges of homelessness than elected officials. It’d be great to see the City reach out and engage them.

What’s your thoughts? 

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  1. Heidi
    October 4, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Lovely attitude from an elected official. “Drunken bums and dope heads?” Out of line.

  2. October 4, 2012 at 9:59 am

    If the City feels the need to “clamp down,” they need to provide places for our homeless population to go. This is generally a service tackled by non-profits and churches in the area, but everyone is feeling the weight of economic burden and funding cuts. That said, many conversations are being had to this regard.
    Arresting the homeless for drunken and disorderly conduct, or because you’re “uncomfortable,” does nothing but perpetuate the problem, both from a law enforcement standpoint and a taxpayer standpoint. If we’ve chosen to give them a place to stay for the night by way of a jail cell or drunk tank, so be it. But I honestly don’t think this is a sustainable solution to the problem. Let’s work together–as local government, non-profit agencies, and the private sector–to create safe places for the homeless to go. Because we obviously can’t have people feeling “uncomfortable” when faced with a reality they aren’t willing to help alleviate (READ: sarcasm).

  3. October 5, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Actually pretty right on.. have you ever taken time to observe a majority of these folks?…. Yes there are unfortunate circumstances for some, many are mentally out of control and refuse help.

  4. October 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Don, your comment is completely unsubstantiated and unnecessarily spiteful of people facing challenges in our community. Perhaps you’re fortunate enough to not have to confront addiction, mental health issues, or extreme poverty in your life, but many of us can empathize with these struggles because we realize it isn’t about “these or those folks” and that it is about community.

  5. Me
    October 5, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    I think this is one of best comment I’ve seen you make. It made my day. Thanks, Gary.

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