Printed letters, Aug. 7, 2011
Where should we send those with no place to go?
In Grand Junction today we have approximately 800 destitute, homeless persons and 200 beds available at night for them to sleep upon. Although there are scores of vacant houses and buildings, they are neither affordable nor available for people without the means to pay rent, let alone a down payment.
Finding suitable housing for parents with children and other deserving persons has been the work of social service agencies, faith-based organizations and countless others for many years.
I include adult men in the mix of those “deserving,” particularly those with mental illness and seemingly hopeless alcohol addiction. Who has the will or the ability to overcome serious personal problems if they don’t at least know where they will be sleeping that night?
Whose responsibility is it to judge who deserves our compassion and who doesn’t? If, as some suggest, we create new laws to curtail the use of parks and public spaces specifically for those men who have no place to go during the daylight hours, where should they go?
Help for homeless must not encourage transients
I think we all want to help homeless people who really need the help, and no one should go hungry. However, some of these people are transients, who chose this lifestyle, and come here from other places after the word gets out of all the free things Grand Junction has to offer.
Panhandle without consequences, because the Homeless Outreach Taskforce team will come to your rescue, give you a high five and a bottle of water. We tried handing out food, but some just wanted money, which we were not going to give them to buy tobacco products or alcoholic beverages.
My wife has had transients exposing themselves, urinating in public by the urgent-care building. Where are our rights —the taxpayers who live here and help foot the bill? Where’s the H.O.T. team when we need them?
Just watch the different people getting off the buses with their backpacks to take up residence in the parks and near the urgent-care building. What are our elected officials doing about this invasion? And why are so many coming here?
It’s funny they don’t have this problem in Vail or Aspen. Let’s find out how they handle their “homeless” problem. I’ll bet they are given a bus ticket to Grand Junction. Let’s help our local homeless, but let’s not enable transients setting up camp here.
Contribute to those in need, but keep parks safe
As a dedicated and engaged downtown resident, I am deeply concerned by the trends that I have seen in the city, particularly in the parks and in the areas surrounding our riverfront trail. I wouldn’t consider walking, running or biking along those trails by myself.
As the lead organizer of the Grand Junction Main Street Community Garden, I teach our members how to grow their own food, provide nutritious meals for their families, and give (through emergency food agencies such as Catholic Outreach, Center for Independence and Homeward Bound, which utilize our donated vegetables to create fresh, nutritious meals) to the people of our community who are not able to provide this food for themselves.
While we are fortunate to have the means to share our bounty from the garden, there must be some parameters for what we can provide to people who are not contributing members of our community. We cannot continue to allow our public spaces to be overtaken by drunk, high, violent or threatening, transient individuals. When I put forth personal time and effort to make my contributions to this community in which I live, I would like to expect an opportunity to go to the park and enjoy a picnic with my family and friends or throw a Frisbee or go for a jog without feeling threatened.
Each person deserves consideration for their personal situation. However, no group of people’s imposition on public spaces should eliminate the free and safe use to others. This is not simply an issue for downtown residents and businesses. This is an issue that should concern everyone in the valley because the health and safety of our riverfront and the heart of our well-preserved, vibrant, cherished downtown have strong reverberations felt throughout the area.