Letters and Opinion

Let's find ways to house the homeless

April 16, 2011

I read [Mickey Maurer’s] column in the April 4 issue. There is not one way to describe “the homeless.” The city has not yet faced the issue of adequate jobs for the working class, let alone adequate housing. “The homeless” are indeed a mix of persons with multi-layers of issues. We should not minimize the fact that many have serious mental health conditions and are in need of more active and involved mental health services. Some patients are placed in public housing without follow-up. The patient needs professional service and a regular visitation schedule to make sure [they take] the medications that help them maintain their ability to stay housed.

Second, the homeless with drinking and drug issues cannot improve if we go to them under a bridge and pray and give them food. While this is a nice gesture, it does not help. We cannot allow this population to sink further into despair and not give them alternatives. This group needs some boundaries and a place to go to get help with their disease. Alcoholism is a disease and should be treated like one.

I am amazed at the money that this city has put out for sports arenas—both current and the torn-down facilities that we are still paying for. Why can’t we find an apartment that houses people in need? To help people who want help, there should be a housing situation where the homeless person can be housed while he works in the building to maintain the structure, and those who have a job could pay an affordable rent until their job gets better and they can afford a higher rent. Affordable-housing programs are available though various community-development corporations, but most have income levels based on low-income standards of the federal government.

Housing the homeless would give them the environment that would possibly change their lives. This would give some an opportunity to bring dignity into their lives and hopefully give them the ability to leave the program for a better-paying job so that they can repair their lives.

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Leah Orr
Historic researcher and sculptor
 

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