Good for the Community or the Homeless?

homeless garbageGood for the Community or the Homeless?
Take a good look at the attached image. A really good look. This is a very common image of what takes place at ‘unsanctioned’ or ‘illegal’ homeless encampments. I put unsanctioned and illegal in quotes because neither are true in the City of Seattle. Allowing these encampments IS sanctioning them. Allowing these encampments without trespassing charges (without removing them), makes them legal. It has been very clear that in spite of the rhetoric spewed by Seattle (even their ‘crack down’ on unsanctioned encampments) that Seattle condones such encampments. It is beginning to appear that some in Burien want to also condone such encampments.

Before I share more about this subject, this get something out in the open. A person can have compassion, concern, even love for the homeless, and yet be against certain behaviors and government policies. A person that may not be ‘politically correct’ in the eyes of any one group (liberal or conservative) does not mean that person is hateful, mean, uncaring, too supportive of criminal activity, enabling, etc. Name calling and judging the heart of individuals does nothing to help resolve the homelessness problem in our society. Saying that, certain actions/behaviors, opinions, comments can be hateful, mean, enabling, condoning, and unhealthy.

My Perspective
I believe that too many individuals look at the homelessness/addiction problem and swing the pendulum too far. Mainly focusing on what is good for society or what is best for the addict/mentally ill/homeless. A more balanced approach is what is good for society and the addict/homeless. Much harder to accomplish but the more balanced approach.

Good for Society?
How in the world is having people camping out on sidewalks, under bridges, next to freeways, good for society? How does having litter/garbage at encampments help society? How does that improve the quality of life? How does a city that condones this see a benefit? Is this what a city wants visitors to see? Doesa nyone actually think this reduces homelessness?

Good for Addict/Homeless?
Does anyone actually think that unsanctioned/illegal encampments actually help addicts, mentally ill, or the homeless? How does being surrounded by garbage, individuals who are law breakers, by blatant alcohol and drug abuse, by individuals who could care less about their hygiene or the hygiene of others helpful? How does it help an individual who would be willing to live in this type of environment?

Burien and Surrounding Neighborhoods
Is this what Burien residents want to allow? Is this what they want to condone? If so, why? Compassion? Is this compassion? I sure hope that the residents and businesses of Burien and outlying cities have compassion but realize condoning/allowing  such encampments is not compassion. It IS enabling. It is detrimental to the community and those living at these encampments.

Are There Solutions?
Needless to say that is a challenging question. That will require much discussion and looking at a variety of options. However, one of the solutions is not allowing these encampments. While exploring solutions, we need to say NO to Unsanctioned Encampments. There are those in city government that will do something about these encampments if residents and businesses say clearly-No to Unsanctioned Encampments. Make them illegal.

There are some solutions such as day shelters, night shelters, sanctioned encampments, affordable housing (obviously challenging but there are some options that individuals do not partake of because of guidelines), more pressure on individuals to take advantage of the resources available to them (counseling, treatment, getting back on medication, etc.). If a person refuses to take advantage of the resources available and still wants to live in unsanctioned encampments, then ship them to cities that support unsanctioned encampments. When more an more cities say NO, they will be forced to start making better choices. Why are getting more homeless in Burien? Because Seattle is starting to say no. We need to do the same.

There are organizations that are willing to help those who are homeless. BUT many refuse to take advantage of the help. In fact, refuse the help. It is time to ‘put the heat’ on them. Create an environment where the pain of staying the same is more painful than the pain of change. That’s called tough love. That’s called wanting what is best for them before they want the best for them.

Summary
Unsanctioned encampments are not good for society, or those living at such encampments. As long as a city allows them to occur, they will continue and more will be established. It’s time to say no in Burien. Its time to do all we can to provide other options. If individuals refuse to take advantage of such options then continue tearing down their encampments until they leave.

P.S. I know some individuals in law enforcement who have some great ideas on this topic. I do not believe they have gone public with it. I am going to ask if I can share their ideas in a public manner.

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