The mayor's blog has a mini poll that may be of some interest to the downtown community.
Of interest to me was that a majority of people didn't favor a "crackdown" on charities that feed homeless in public places.
It seems that this question may be handled differently by the majority if the public park in question was one they took their kids to, or was located across the street from their home. Also the wording, "cracking down on charities", that just sounds wrong, doesn't it?
The rennaisance downtown will recieve a substantial boost when the city finds a way to move the public feeding at Lucas Park. After all, we may not be able to completely eliminate homelessness, but should we be showcasing it?
Participate in this poll though. The voice of downtown should be heard.
"Showcasing" is a bit strong --- it is not like the city puts up banners or celebrates the feeding of the homeless. Yes, fellow humans in need are being fed in public.
Life isn't always pretty and we can't always just brush the unpleasant stuff under the rug. Many homeless actually work but they cannot afford housing. We need to work on housing options other than $115K "afforable" 3-bed, 2 bath infill houses.
Showcasing may be strong language. Absolutely.
Homelessness is obviously a problem that shouldn't be brushed under a rug.
If I decided to have a gathering in the same park with the intent of serving food to my friends, I would need a permit. By allowing the homeless to be fed in public parks outside the scope of the law seems to me to be closer to brushing the problem under the rug since it would be more complicated, costly or time consuming for the city to find an alternative means to solving the problem. So for now, the problem is overlooked.
Another solution would be to provide a indoor location during the day that the homeless can "hangout". A big problem is that most overnight shelters do not allow people to stay during the day and the places that offer lunch don't have the financial ability to keep the door open for more than a couple of hours. A downtown community center might be the best solution. Having a safe, central location where meals are served, along with offering access to social services, TV's and a controlled climate. Many of the people would leave the parks, the library and street corners. For those that refuse to move, loitering, littering and panhandling ordnances could be enforced with the offenders encouraged to go to the center
As a result of a lack of enforcement of city ordinances, places like Lucas Park look terrible every morning after the homeless have been hanging out there. It ends up trashed and I believe it's the City that then has to clean it up (and they do a pretty good job). The other day I drove past with out of town visitors and people were laying on bare mattresses there. How can a city let that happen? The out of towners could hardly believe it. I'm not trying to downplay the plight of the homeless but the bottom line is that the proximity of the free food attracts legit homeless plus other less worthy people. This worsens the atmosphere in the neighborhood and the case could be made that it increases crime because criminal elements tend to follow the homeless. An alternative safe place needs to be established for the homeless and city ordinances need to be enforced.
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