If you have not heard the Fairmont City manager and others have decided to do away with “tent city.” Now at the outset let me make it clear we may be doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons in a very terrible way.
Again, let me be clear homeless people have shorter life spans for numerous reasons including poor sanitary conditions. I have often stated homeless people look for safety. Those with drug induced paranoia are going to feel safer in a way we do not comprehend. If one third of the homeless have mental illness we need to understand they are not necessarily thinking logically. If 40 percent of all homeless people have some income but cannot afford housing, a housing first mentality ignores them.
People are basically homeless because of a life altering circumstance or an addictive lifestyle that separates them from housing. A life altering circumstance can be a loss of job or even a sickness with a medication cost that makes them chose between housing and meds.
All homeless people are not criminals. It is not helpful when well-meaning people label the homeless such. I understand that the impetus of this was the discovery of a meth lab under the High Level Bridge. The Housing Coalition wants to house all of the homeless in government funded housing. This would mean my tax dollars would be paying for meth labs. Because if you do not change an addict’s thinking you will not change their actions.
The City and the Homeless Coalition state that the Mission and its rules create barriers for the homeless. Rules are necessary to an orderly society. Rules protect the residents and the Mission facility. The safety of all the residents motivates Mission rules. Put 50 to 80 people under one roof and the necessity of rules becomes clearly evident. The mandate for closing tent city comes from city law established for an orderly society thus creating barriers for the homeless.
Right relationship with God brings about moral living. Moral living is the basis of an orderly society. Union Mission began in 1937 based upon this principle and continues to adhere to this precept. We will not concede this principle to a politically correct agenda.
The city’s approach has just driven the homeless underground … has done nothing to protect them … and for some severed any hope of future help. Many of them have just learned to never trust government.
We will continue to be a beacon in the darkness as long as God allows. We are in the heart of the city to minister to those that have hit rock bottom and need guidance out of the pit. Recovery from homelessness is above all difficult and education does not prevent homelessness or addiction (See Lynn’s Story June 2017 Newsletter). Union Mission is not just a homeless shelter it offers recovery programs for all. I understand the word recovery is associated with addiction or disease, but if you ever were homeless you would use recovery to describe the horrors you have come back from.
In the future I hope Fairmont officials will take a different approach to drastic changes they want to undertake. They have done much to destroy the trust of the homeless people they are supposed to serve.
George E. Batten