There has been talk lately that the city of Ashland needs to create and provide, at the expense of the tax payers, a campsite for the cities transients. The people pushing this idea and those that support it say, as City Councilman Eric Navickas did, that upholding city ordinance and citing people for illegal camping is "cruel and unusual punishment" and "a civil rights violation."
Eric Navickas and his ilk say that the city has an obligation to provide a campsite for these people and that there is ample space within the city limits and the immediate surrounding areas for such a site. I am inclined to disagree and to ask the supporters of this proposal a few questions:
- Would this campsite be built solely for transients or for everybody?
- If you say everybody do you really believe that the average citizen is going to want to occupy a campsite that has been deemed dedicated for the use of transients?
- Why should we the taxpayers, who have watched our property taxes rise year after year, provide for a small group of people who give nothing back to our city and have no desire to do so?
Every single Ashland resident knows that it is not cheap to live here. Rent is not cheap, property is not cheap, food is not cheap, and yet we choose to work and contribute so that we may be a part of this great city. Now there are people saying that those of us that work and strive every day to take care of ourselves, our family, our neighbors and our community must not only accept but accommodate those who chose to do nothing more than hassle us and beg for our money.
That no one chooses to be homeless is a myth. There are people in our city who, regardless of the circumstances of their lives, have decided to be freeloaders surviving and even thriving off of the good will and pity of others. These people have chosen not to take part in normal society and are now asking that same society to provide for them. Many of the city's homeless are young people in their early 20s. If it was their desire to get a job or obtain some kind of work they would most likely find it relatively easy to do so.
No one can deny that there are people in this country and in our city that truly need our help. No good person could deny charity to those that really need it. All over people are losing their jobs and their homes and are struggling just to survive. But we are not talking about drug addicts and kids who have never held a job, never looked for a job, never had any desire to work and maintain responsibilities or contribute in any way to society. And now we are talking about building them a campsite where they will be free to do whatever they please and give nothing back to our city in return.
A city-provided, taxpayer-funded transient campground is a ridiculously stupid idea. If we are truly committed to helping people, we would be talking about building a shelter. One that employs a staff and a strict set of rules. The homeless will be given beds and showers and a place to relax but they will not be able to use these facilities if they bring in drugs or alcohol or start fights or any other kind of trouble.
The shelter will be there to help people find jobs and clean themselves up but it will not be a free ride on the backs of the taxpayer. Nothing in this life is free.