Letter: We can do better for homeless
After talking with as many locals as possible over the last four years about homelessness in our valley, I wanted to share what I have learned.
According to the Garfield County Department of Social Services, there are approximately 200 people without homes in Garfield County. Feed My Sheep had over 9,000 visits to its day center in 2014. Extended Table served over 16,000 meals in 2014. LIFT-UP, The Salvation Army, Valley View Hospital, the Police Department, the jail, the schools and many other resources are impacted by our people without homes.
I’m not saying that’s good or bad. The homeless need to eat and use what we offer. After talking with over 65 leaders and private citizens, the majority believe we can do better, and we need to do better. We can look at it in a positive manner and find a solution that works for the whole community. When I say community I mean businesses, tourists, general public, the nonprofit resources, city leaders, schools, people without homes and churches. Everyone.
I have learned about Salt Lake City’s solutions, Denver’s new $4 million facility and other communities attempts to address the issue. Virginia has now offered homes to every single homeless vet in the state. Think about it. What are we doing? Ignoring this does not solve the problem.
The governor of Colorado has a goal to end homelessness in Colorado, and there is money now designated for such projects. The National Alliance to End Homelessness has recorded over 570,000 people in the U.S. as homeless. I hope someday we can be a model for other communities to learn from us.
I personally vision a safe place where people can regain their dignity by contributing to our community.
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