Editorial: Homeless shelter opening good step for Sweet Home
February 1, 2023
Creating a solution for Sweet Home’s homeless problem has been a long road, which is still leading us to new places for our community.
It’s a relief that the Family Assistance Resource Center was finally able to get all the boxes checked that were necessary to get the facility up and running in mid-January.
As we reported last week, the homeless are on-site, they are no longer camped behind old City Hall. The situation has improved.
As should be obvious by now to anyone who has familiarized themselves with the homeless situation, it would be naive to assume that the FAC shelter will solve all Sweet Home’s issues in this area.
But the FAC facility gives law enforcement a legal alternative to, say, Sankey Park or a downtown doorway when a homeless individual needs a place to bed down. Court rulings require that a police officer must provide an alternative before forcing someone out of a location where they’ve settled.
Plus, it’s a charitable effort by our community to provide help to people who need it. Even in today’s self-centered world, charity is a virtue.
The FAC facility is low-barrier, which means it’s not too difficult to qualify to stay there. Basically, if there’s space and you obey the rules, you’re in. Behave, and you’re good. And FAC offers options for all sorts of help – food, clothing, counseling, social services, etc., etc.
In covering this issue, we confess we’ve become more sensitized to certain realities that might escape us all as we try to ignore the challenges posed by homelessness until they get too obvious to ignore.
In fact, the reality that the homeless feel ignored is one of those “hello” moments we’ve had as the issue has been discussed. Guilty as charged. Do we (speaking editorially here) characteristically greet a clearly homeless individual with as much enthusiasm as, say, someone driving a BMW?
But there’s more.
Over and over, as we’ve sat through meetings and observed the progress on the FAC, we’ve realized that many of the people around us who don’t have a roof over their heads suffer from more than the common maladies we assume they do: drug and alcohol abuse, irresponsible behavior, mental illness, etc.
Many have very poor self image. For whatever reason they’ve lost jobs. They’ve lost housing. Many have suffered physical or mental abuse. Many have had their possessions stolen. Many have little sense of security, which can manifest itself in behavior that is aimed at self-preservation, more than anything else.
For many of us who are not homeless, these might be, well, kind of foreign realities, but they’re realities that FAC knows very well, and is prepared to address in ways most of us probably could not.
Our homeless shelter will likely not end up being all that every community resident wants it to be. It won’t be the end-all solution to Sweet Home’s homeless challenges because those challenges are many and varied. Note, for instance, the City Council’s passage of RV parking bans (see page 6), an attempt to get a handle on another variant of the homeless problem.
But it’s a good start and it’s based on demonstrated success in a community much like Sweet Home. Instead of being as churlish as possible in dealing with this problem, Sweet Home has opted for a much more charitable approach. We hope it bears fruit, not only in reconstructed lives, but in public good.