To the Editor:
I am in complete agreement with (Dan O’Neil’s) assessment of the indigent population in our fair city. [The Soapbox: My frustration with how the community deals with the homeless population Oct. 6, 2022)
I concur that the mental illness component is at the very heart of the issue. “Sweeping away” the problem child from one public space, only to resettle the same day to another, is an obvious folly akin to playing “Whack-a-mole,” with the exception that the moles are people that lack any semblance of resources.
The quintuple of mental health, substance dependency, poverty, ethnic/color/sexual identity discrimination and underfunded social support programs ALL contribute, and ALL must be simultaneously treated. The readily apparent solution is also a three-part remedy: house, counsel, fund. Unfortunately, there has been historic highly effective community pushback: NIMBY, complete misunderstanding and fear, and “tax payer” opposition. It is ironic that the word “revolting” pertains to that of people resisting change, and also of the public attitude towards the homeless.
I would have thought that the town/city process of handling of property tax would make funding to alleviate homelessness easier at a local level. As demonstrated by the political theater that Texas and Florida have pulled on their homeless immigrants in sending elsewhere, localities like Manchester have developed a “Not my prob because they’re not ours” and refuse to financially commit to long-term solutions. Pushing the problem aside – through incarceration, temporary sheltering, and “out of site, thus mind” thinking – by physical pushing is only contributing to it. Unless residents of this city are willing to sacrifice more of their privileged advantage to help others help themselves, homelessness will, paradoxically, become a permanent resident.
And, by the way, this ridiculous addendum of the city ordinance just passed to ban shopping carts in public spaces serves squat but to relieve the conscience of the town council in pretending to be proactive. In reality, it’s completely unenforceable, counterproductive and vacant of purpose. The men in blue on Valley Street must be rolling their eyes on this.