In simple English, both the older city ordinance and newer version carry the same message. They say, "You homeless people can use the parks and river area just as the rest of the public can, which means not at night and not to make up for a lack of a place to live." There’s no place for the homeless people in town to camp unless you have the permission of the owner of the private property or the city manager's permission to camp on public property. Not on the river, not under bridges, nowhere.
Try to imagine being without enough food or money. Imagine looking for someplace to rest, some kind of shelter, someplace where you might be appreciated as a human being.
Both the previous ordinances that were in force and the suggested new ones appear to be targeting the homeless. It's as though the homeless are the problem and not their circumstances, their plight. Public health and safety is cited as the justifications for these ordinances. But what about the homeless people? Are we not to worry about their health and safety? Aren't they part of the public? Aren't they citizens? There are over a hundred homeless children in town — how about them?
Among these human beings I've met among today's homeless I've found a deep sea fisherman, a homemaker, a carpenter, a railroad worker and a pipe fitter. A goodly number of these people take jobs whenever they can. There are those that can find or take work and those who can't or don't. But both "live," or should we say "exist," with considerable physical and mental stress. They're unable to come up with enough to be allowed back into civil society. Our neighbors, if put in this situation, would be suffering the same hardships, pains, desperations, fears and anxieties.
If we or our neighbors were to find ourselves homeless, we would be able to get a hot lunch at the Salvation Army six days a week. Sunday the homeless pool their food stamps and/or money and share a meal with everyone that comes. The homeless have already formed mutual self-help relationships, and friendly people from the community are invited to add to the food and join them for a "barbecue" at Stillman Park every Sunday it is available.
Let's stand with the homeless.