Letters to the Editor

Help should go to the truly homeless

Homelessness. I know the politically correct view is, "Oh, dear "… the poor things." I do have compassion for the unfortunate mother who lost her job and her apartment. I also understand others who "fall through the cracks" of services in Ashland. It's great the City Council is investigating this issue. Blessings on them if they find a solution that doesn't cost the taxpayers more.

However — and this is a big however — I know a story. Once upon a time a summer ago, a friend told me of a conversation with one of the men sitting on the sidewalk with his sign and basket. I learned that there is a circuit the "homeless" make over a year. They come to Ashland, particularly in summer, because the "take" is so good. This man said he "earns" $400 on a good weekend.

his young man was in his 20s. He protested the word "homeless," though, preferring "home free." He said he has a right to be "home free," meaning to live off other people, despite his youth and good health. He just didn't want to work.

I'll admit when I heard that $400 number, I did give some thought to dirtying my face, dressing in my worst, making a sign, "Anything helps," mussing my hair and sitting on the street near the park. Who wouldn't be touched, seeing a poor grandma sitting there, looking homeless? I wouldn't have to say anything but "thanks" when someone dropped money into my lap. After a hard weekend of sitting and holding my sign, I would come home, $400 richer, take a shower and stow my dirty clothes and sign for the next day's use.

Yes, let's help the homeless "… the truly homeless. Just as for any other social service, the homeless need to apply, expose their financial status, their reason for being homeless (if they really are). If living "home free" is a choice they have made, let them live with it, just as the rest of us must live with the choices we've made. Then, like the good old WPA, let them work to earn their keep.

Meredith Killmer Hanson


Homeless should have a place to camp legally

Thank you for shedding light on homelessness in Ashland. I am deeply saddened by the recent police citations for "illegal camping in Ashland's forests." The time has come to evaluate laws prohibiting homeless from camping on public land.

We're all aware of factors contributing to homelessness — job loss, mental/physical disabilities, drug/alcohol addiction, home foreclosures, family cycles, etc. And yes, some people choose homelessness. However, whatever the reason, the fact remains, the homeless are people.

They are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. They have hopes and dreams, hurts and disappointments. Many have been abused, forsaken and mistreated their entire lives.

Providing a place for the homeless to camp legally won't solve the ultimate issues, but it's a place to start. It is time for us to take ownership instead of assuming someone else will. I know I cannot eradicate the enormous problem of homelessness, but I am called to do more than just avoid eye contact with a panhandler in the plaza or turn my head when a vulnerable population is in crisis.

I can provide a hot meal for the man on the street corner. I can give away a blanket folded in my linen closet. I can invite that woman with a cardboard sign to take a hot shower at my house and help her find a job. What can you do?

The Bible says, in James 2:14-16, "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?"

Brianna Morgan


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