The extent of the homeless issue in Brookings is appalling. I just moved back from Tacoma, Washington, where there is a homeless issue of the same magnitude. Tacoma is significantly larger, yet I can draw many parallels between the two communities. That is sad.
Brookings is a beautiful city, full of life, love and hope. It is also full of small minds who refuse to acknowledge their part in perpetuating the homeless issue. What we are doing is clearly not working.
Citizens are blaming charities, churches, police and government officials for the issue. Police hands are tied by the law, funds and officer availability. Churches and charities are bound by funds, hands to help and a lack of resources. Citizens are often so busy pointing fingers that we fail to recognize our place in all of this.
In Pierce County, Washington, there is an organized movement between law enforcement, government agencies and charities (including churches) to offer resources to homeless. A group of officers and volunteers go around to various homeless camps, offer services and if anyone refuses, they are arrested. The charges range from trespassing, to outstanding warrants, to possession of illegal substances and more.
The cities have been cutting down brush and even clear-cutting entire lots where homeless have been known to camp. This has helped a lot. It took years and a lot of effort to put it together.
I believe we as a community have the ability to adopt this same or a similar plan as well, but it will require a lot of cooperation from many people. Are you willing to stop complaining and start helping? Or will you continue to perpetuate the issue?
Shaming people, grouping everyone into one stereotype and just screaming "arrest them all" will never solve the problem. It will only make it worse.
There are human trafficking and sex trafficking victims in our midst. They are trapped in the homeless community, scared and desperate to get out. Will you help them? There are disabled elderly who are homeless and unable to help themselves out. Will you help them? There are veterans with PTSD and TBI who are hopeless and homeless. Will you help them? There are domestic violence survivors whose only choice was to stay and be beaten or become homeless and get free. Will you help them?
The "career" homeless will stand out like a sore thumb once we take action as a community in helping those who truly want it. Surely many citizens have resources they can share to help solve this issue. Many hands make light work. Many hearts make the community light up.
Love your neighbor. Stop the hate.