Two News Events

There were two shocking crimes against homeless people over the last few days.  Today in California a homeless woman was set on fire while she was sleeping on a park bench.  Just last week the National Coalition for the Homeless released a report identifying California as the most dangerous state in the union.   They actually had three times as many incidents of violence against homeless people as any other state in the union.  According to the story a witness followed the attacker.  The victim who was not identified is in critical condition.  The attacker was under arrest thanks to the witness who stayed with him as he fled the scene.  It only points to the need to add attacks on homeless people to the national hate crimes registry for the new year.

In a shameful example of government intransigence and another crime against homeless people, the City of Columbus is woefully ill prepared for the winter.   Columbus does not have shelter overflow yet, and it demonstrates the problem of bureaucracy triumphing over humanity by government officials.  If the Mayor was forced to sleep in shelters until everyone of his citizens had housing, this would not be a problem and the fire inspector would not be dragging their feet.  In Cleveland, upon realizing that the overflow was not ready and it was getting cold a couple of years back, the fire inspector made the staff agree to an hourly fire walks through the whole building while the inspections were being finished.   A staff person had to walk the entire building to look out for any sign of fire while the bureaucrats worked out their issues.  This was an example of "we the people" doing what is right in the face of human need.

Columbus has yet to establish an overflow for the shelters after two snowy winter nights.   The shelter was all set to open in November when the neighbors objected.  They claimed that it was too close to a childcare facility.  There was no real back up plan and now people are sleeping outside in the snow.  Why would a facility with round the clock staff not be allowed to open because it is next to a child care facility?  What is the issue with allowing people to sleep inside at night with a child care facility that operates during the day.  This is a horrible example of government failing, and could result in the death on the streets of Columbus. Another reason to be thankful that we live in a city with a commitment to providing access to everyone in need of shelter.  We are one of the last cities in the United States in which Republican and Democratic mayors and commissioners have put in the funding to keep all of our citizens safe especially in the winter.  In fact, over the last two winters Cuyahoga County has funded an overnight drop in for those who are resistant to shelter (Metanoia Project).  Also, the Alcohol and Drug Board (ADAMHS) has funded a house for women to get off the streets at night on the East Side of Cleveland.  How long does it take to walk State Route 3 from Columbus to Cleveland?

Brian

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