OPINION: Offer solutions

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They can’t be swept under the rug.

It’s very clear too few people in Chatham-Kent take our burgeoning homeless issue seriously.

Sure, we all have seen our homeless, but it seems a number of our citizens have developed the ability to look right through them.

At issue Monday was a notion to make Hope Haven on Wellington Street a permanent overnight shelter run in partnership with the municipality. Pre-COVID-19, it served as an overnight men’s shelter, much to the chagrin of a number of downtown business owners.

The idea of it expanding has irked more than a few people, as an online petition quickly popped up.

People we spoke with said they recognize the need for a homeless shelter, and improved assistance for our homeless, but that the downtown is not the place for such a shelter.

Perhaps that is true, but if so, where?

The Not-In-My-Backyard crew acknowledged the need for delivery of services to help with mental health and addiction issues, but just not in Chatham’s core.

It makes sense for such a shelter to be located in close proximity to areas of need for our homeless.

It’s not like many of them have the ability to just hop into a car and drive across town to get food, access health care, attend a soup kitchen, or obtain clothing.

As we asked earlier, if not in the core…where?

We challenge the signatories on the petition to help come up with options. They know where they don’t want it, but perhaps several know where it would be better situated.

Be part of the solution.

It is a difficult subject. Wherever a homeless shelter is located, there will be concerns over petty crime, as many homeless are battling with addictions or mental health concerns. Perhaps policing has to be altered to accommodate: foot patrols in the area, improved dialogue with our homeless, respectful reminders.

Furthermore, transportation to needed amenities could be co-ordinated.

We can do so much more for a very fragile section of our society to help them just feel like they are being treated like human beings, and to help get them back on their feet.

Let’s not see through them, but rather let’s work to aid them.

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