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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Church cancels parking lot homeless car camp

Neighborhood opposition killed it.

It was, if you'll pardon the expression, a bum idea. Decentralizing homeless shelters is a little like decentralizing mental health treatment facilities. Many people don't want to live next to them, and never expected to. The city has spent a lot of money on big central facilities like the Bud Clark installation over by Union Station. That's always going to be an easier sell than setting up little pockets of car campers in the parking lots of charities in residential neighborhoods.

Comments (2)

I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, I think that being homeless and living out of your car, especially for a single woman with kids, is just about the worst thing, and its an indictment of our country that we let it happen. On the other hand, it doesn't sound like a particularly secure setup, having a woman and her kids sleeping unprotected in a location that is known to the outside world.

I live close to the church and went to the June meeting they had when things were spinning out of control. Like more than half the people attending (there was a show of hands at one point), I was basically supportive of the idea and frankly rather horrified by some of the neighbors' over-the-top negative reactions (CHILDREN could be near HOMELESS PEOPLE, OMG!), but by the time I left (a bit early), I really felt the church couldn't handle the responsibility well.

The big problems I remember were that the port-a-potty was 15 feet from a guy's yard, the church members were apparently going to have no interaction with the homeless person/people during the nighttime hours they were there, and despite that fact that any negative impact basically would fall on the neighbors rather than on the church, several of the church people were very dismissive and contemptuous of the neighbors (only some of whom deserved it!); even notification was very minimal, let alone co-planning.

The JOIN people seemed great, but got very little backup from Fish or the city. Practical issues were getting ignored because the city and the church didn't feel like dealing with them. Maybe they can flesh it out better, or at least have better planning WITH neighbors, for a future site.

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