PI Editorial: On the challenge of homelessness, we can’t expect government to do it all | PostIndependent.com

PI Editorial: On the challenge of homelessness, we can’t expect government to do it all

Post Independent editorial board

We can’t always put it on government to completely solve a problem, especially one with so many challenges and so much nuance such as homelessness.

Anyone who spends time in Downtown Glenwood Springs will be familiar with the homeless challenge we face as a community. While we would join many others in encouraging our government and local nonprofits in continuing to seek ways to improve our response and, most importantly, positive outcomes for those in need of help, we would also encourage every single one of us to consider our own roles.

So, how can we help as individuals?

First off, we can do even more to empower the agencies best in a position to help. Extended Table, Feed My Sheep and Catholic Charities are just some of the local organizations working to improve the lives of our homeless residents. Volunteering and donating are probably the two best ways we can help our nonprofits.

What if you’re afraid of being alone downtown at night, or if you have a friend or family member who is afraid? First, we would encourage acknowledging those feelings.

Everyone has a different comfort level with experiences in life, and that is perfectly understandable. If it is someone else who is afraid, offer to walk with them downtown. If it is you who are afraid, ask a friend if they can meet up with you. The “buddy system” is a longtime solution to many challenges.

What if something happens or you register an immediate threat to yourself or others? Don’t wait to call the police.

We’d also like to take a moment to acknowledge that homelessness is not just a problem downtown — this Youtube video from the Glenwood Springs Fire Department shows just how many camps there are on the outskirts of city.

If you’re a neighbor or landlord, don’t just call the city — call your county commissioners, your Garfield County sheriff, your federal land managers. We know there are many who feel like they’ve already done this to no avail, but we’d encourage you to keep it up — and get others to call in as well.

The more vocal we are as residents about a challenge, the more likely it becomes that our elected officials will act upon a solution.

What about providing help directly to someone facing homelessness? We believe that giving out $5 here or there doesn’t really provide a solution. Rather, those gestures are more often done with the goal, conscious or not, of making ourselves feel good. It feels good to help!

But this is one instance where a small handout doesn’t really change anything for the better. The person will still be homeless and our community will still be seeking a long-term solution. If you have a strong desire to help a person like this, we’d encourage buying them a meal or necessities.

The end result is still beneficial to them, and the gift of warm socks will last considerably longer than a $5 bill.

The Post Independent editorial board consists of Publisher Bryce Jacobson, Editor Peter Baumann and Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud.

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