It’s time for change, not politics as usual.
Homelessness, like poverty, is a tragedy for the person, but it is not a crime, and should not be criminalized. We eliminated debtor prisons long ago. It is unfathomable that so many men and women who served our nation in the armed forces live on the streets in Colorado. We need to find solutions to homelessness and stop sweeping the issue under the rug and sweeping the victims up, simply re-locating them to someone else’s neighborhood.
As your state representative:
1. I will work hard to pass legislation that decriminalizes homelessness and instead, find both short-term and long-term solutions to the problem. This would include granting the same rights to the homeless we grant to every other citizen including the right to live, rest, and eat.
2. I will work to make sure that tax dollars are spent on public restrooms, showers, laundry facilities and places to safely store one’s belongings. I will work to provide mental health care and jobs for the homeless, not sweeps.
3. I will work with local governments, businesses, and charities to build more shelters utilizing cost-effective Tiny Homes, and set aside safe places where the homeless can camp legally without being moved or swept up.
There are as many reasons for homelessness as there are homeless individuals. Some are homeless temporarily due to loss of a job, a medical problem, divorce or some other personal tragedy. Others are homeless because they are simply broken human beings. Mental health issues like PTSD, depression, or other diseases often lead to homelessness because we as a society do not provide affordable mental health to all citizens when they need it–even Veterans. Addiction to drugs and alcohol are both symptoms and the result of mental health issues. We will never resolve homelessness until we treat mental disorders and addiction as a health problem not a crime or personal defect.
But, not every homeless person is an addict or mentally ill. In fact, the majority are not. They are on the streets due to poverty, lack of jobs, and lack of a home. We should stop stereotyping all homeless individuals. Many are parents with children. What we must do is show compassion, not judgement, and find real solutions, not just continue the ridiculous policies of moving the “problem” to someone else’s door.
I understand that businesses do not want people sleeping in front of their place of business or using their building as a rest room. I understand people would rather not see people sleeping in a park or along a trail. I know it costs local governments money to clean up after the homeless. But, the way to stop that is to provide alternatives to the homeless.
We should provide an alternate space for camping with portable toilets rather than ban people without homes from camping. We should provide public restrooms in public places like they do in Europe and other industrialized societies. We should provide public places where the homeless can shower and wash their clothes, and store their belongings safely. These solutions would go a long way to ameliorating the impact of homelessness on businesses and the communities, and make life a little less miserable for the homeless.
Studies show we spend millions of dollars a year to write tickets and move the homeless. That money would be better spent on the items I suggested above. Doing the same thing the say way over and over expecting a different result, is I submit, insane.